Sadly, when searching for accommodation, you need to take great care that you are not being scammed. Here's a link to a BBC story which shows the level of deception involved and may help you be on your guard.
A scam is when someone tricks you into sending money when renting a room/flat that does not exist or belongs to someone else. Scammers can be very convincing and appear genuine. Here are some tips you should consider before renting a room/flat:
Be very alert and careful if:
- The room is cheap
- Most of the communication is by Whatapp and Messenger
- They offer you passport and registration details (which are easy to fake)
- They pressure you for swift agreement and payment
- They are overly polite, communicative and encouraging
- They ask you to pay via Western Union or Moneygram (these transfers are hard to trace)/
It is easy for someone to pretend to be a registered landlord by using their name. Try contacting the registered landlord separately, to check that it is the same person you have been communicating with.
Make sure to:
- Check if your Landlord is registered. All landlords in Edinburgh have to be registered with the City Council. When looking at property adverts, the Landlord Registration number should be listed and if not, ask for it! Search the number and make sure it matched the Landlord name and address at Landlord Registration Scotland.
- Check if your Letting Agent is registered. All letting agents should be registered and abiding by the Letting Agent Code of Practice. You can check this by searching on the Scottish Letting Agent Register.
- Check if the room is too cheap, or the deal seems too good to be true. If a room/flat is much cheaper than similar rooms/flats in the same area then be suspicious. Cheap prices are used to make you interested to take the risk knowing you won’t be able to find a better deal.
NEVER transfer money to anyone without:
Seeing the flat
Reading the contract properly
Checking the deposit scheme information is correct
Matching the name of the bank account to the name of the landlord
What to do if you’ve been scammed?
- Contact your bank immediately (if you have made a payment through your bank account): If you have transferred money through Moneygram or Western Union, contact your bank to try and stop the payment. In some special cases, you can claim compensation.
- Report the scammer. Scammers rely on your reluctance to report them to keep going because you might think you have been irresponsible. You are not to blame, the scammer is 100% at fault. Reporting the scammer and their advert will help stop someone else being scammed.
If you are in Scotland, you can make a report of the crime to a local Police Station or by calling 101. If you are not in Scotland, you report the crime through the Action Fraud website.