Online rental scam signs to look out for

Mandurah resident Jayden Horsfield warns others to look out for rental scammers. Photo: Supplied.
Mandurah resident Jayden Horsfield warns others to look out for rental scammers. Photo: Supplied.

With so few rentals to choose from many have jumped at the first house they've found online.

While the majority of people online are genuine, scammers are taking advantage of the desperate market by faking rental availabilities.

Mandurah resident Jayden Horsfield, who has been looking for rentals online, said he was targeted by at least four scammers.

One scammer was so convincing it was only when no one was available to show him the house that he realised the deal was "dodgy".

"It is easy for people to fall for it who are in desperate need," Mr Horsfield said.

"I've had many people comment and message me saying the same thing happened to them and unfortunately some people have been ripped off. Some of them have lost more than $2000.

"It's absolutely ridiculous and I can't believe people are taking advantage of others when they're low and struggling."

The house the scammer advertised for rent turned out to be listed for sale on realestate.com.au

Mr Horsfield warned others looking for rentals to be wary of scammers.

"Check their Facebook profile for the amount of friends they have, if they're in our country, and how long the profile has been active for," he said.

"Make sure you search the house you're sent online to check it's actually up for rent.

"I realised the people were scamming me when they were all sharing similar excuses for wanting the money before I saw the house."

Related:

A Gumtree spokesperson encouraged its users to be vigilant when looking at rentals online.

"At Gumtree, we encourage our users to always maintain a vigilant, critical eye over online interactions and be aware of the signs of a scammer," the spokesperson said.

"We also encourage our community to report any suspicious listings so we can investigate and remove ads that are unlawful as part of our report and takedown process."

When looking for a rental property online look out for the common signs in potential rental scammers:

  1. The seller avoids arrangements to meet in person.
  2. The seller does not allow you to see the rental property.
  3. The seller publishes a price that is too good to be true.
  4. The seller publishes a rental listing with spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.
  5. The seller places an unnecessary sense of urgency or pressure for a user to move in or make payments immediately without a chance to visit the rental property.
  6. The seller requests payments before signing the rental lease agreement.
  7. The seller's listing includes unusual rental property locations and strange contact requests such as moving conversations to email, SMS, or WhatsApp.
  8. The seller does not complete a proper screening process.
  9. The seller provides a vague or incomplete lease.
  10. The seller asks for a suspicious form of payment.

If you notice any suspicious behaviours or receive any strange messages when looking for a rental, report it.