Rental frauds are not very uncommon and international students like yourselves are the most vulnerable to it.
Here are a few tips to keep you protected:
1. If you see a room or house advertised that is too good to be true then it probably is so, please INVESTIGATE FURTHER before providing your personal information.
2. Please avoid sending money to anyone online until you’ve done some checks. Unfortunately for you, it might be a little difficult as many of you might still be in Pakistan while booking.
3. If you are booking accommodation from overseas, try to book it through your university as that would be your safest option. However, it is more expensive, and you’ll be bound to a long-term contract of 3-6 months.
4. University you are coming to, or get a friend, contact, or relative to check the property exists and is available.
5. Check if the landlord has a history in the platform.
6. Ask for copies of tenancy agreements and any safety certificates such as Gas Electricity or HMO Licence. Remember by law the landlord must also provide their name and a contact address so please ask for this.
7. DO NOT be pressurised into transferring large sums of money.
8. DO NOT under any circumstances transfer any money via a money transfer service like Western Union. Please do not fall for any story no matter how plausible it sounds – no legitimate landlord should ask for a wire transfer of any money.
9. ALWAYS attempt to meet the landlord in person – if you’re not available, you should ask a friend or relative to help.
10. MAKE SURE your deposits are protected under the DPS “deposit protection scheme”. Ask the landlord regarding this as it is a legal requirement and protects your deposit. It’ll be kept in a secured government account and released after both you and the landlord have agreed.
11. Where possible make payments via cheque as this may provide some protection in the event of a scam.