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In focus: How to stay away from property scams in UK

Let us begin with a situation…

You’ve started a new job that is far from where you’re currently living. After considering the time spent commuting, daily travel expenses, and post-work me-time, you decide to relocate to a property closer to the workplace. During your property search, you encounter a man who introduces himself as the landlord (but is a tenant who is supposed to leave). He shows you the property and successfully convinces you that everything is in order. The deposit is then collected upfront from you. On the day you decide to move into your new home, you discover that you have been duped.

In recent times, property scams have become a significant problem for many people in the United Kingdom. People have lost millions as a result of scammers and fraudulent activities in the real estate sector.

You may have had instances where you had a gut feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Trust your instincts in these situations. You never know when something might turn out to be true. If you are unsure about a property deal, here are some pointers to consider before deciding on any property, whether for rental or purchase.

• Lack of images- you may come across listings with either few or poor-quality images at times. In such cases, do not hesitate to request additional images or videos. You will be staying in that property, so it is best to have a thorough inspection or clear any doubts you may have.

• Low price for the area- whenever you are looking for a property, it is important that you are aware of the current rates of a property. Because of the rise in fraudulent activities, it is essential to research before contacting the landlord or agency.

• Prior viewing of the property is not permitted- you have the right to view the property before signing the contract for rent or purchase. Excuses such as the property being under renovation, current tenants being unavailable or unwilling to be disturbed until they move are a red flag. Hearing these excuses should immediately raise suspicions that it is a scam or that the property is in poor condition.

• Upfront partial or full payment- never pay any amount without first inspecting the property and obtaining all necessary documentation. Be wary if they insist on making an upfront payment first.

• Poor online content/advertisements- a website or advertisement with poor content, unclear structure, or grammatical errors should be enough to warn you that something is wrong with this property. While scrolling, keep an eye out for any missing information.

Now that you know how to tell if a property is a scam, the next step is to ask the landlord or agent these four questions when you meet or speak with them.

• Inquire about the property- the person showing you or telling you about it should be able to answer all of your questions fluently and without hesitation.

• The property requires repairs— it can so happen that certain item aren’t in working condition. If the landlord or agent is unwilling to repair before handing over the keys, do not sign any contract.

• Legal deed- double-check that all of your legal paperwork is in order. In addition to your contract, it includes fire alarm, gas, and other necessary certifications.

• Reference check- check with neighbors and previous tenants before making a decision. It will assist you in making your decision.

While we have seen above the various ways by which you can identify a property scam, also having a basic understanding of what type of properties are more prone to scams and fraudulent activities will be helpful.

• Rental property- because the owners aren’t always present, these properties are an easy target.

• Vacant property- there are cases where the owner has died or there have been no tenants for a long time.

• Overseas owner- the owners may be in another country and the property is in the care of an agent.

• High-value property- Scammers target high-value properties because they can earn a lot of money.

With so much property hunting done online, property scams on the rise, and so many scammers around, there is a high chance that you will fall into a trap if you let your guard down. It is crucial to stay alert and up to date on happenings. Keep the preceding information in mind whenever you are looking for a property for yourself or family, and you will be certain to make the right decision.

When you sign up with Househat, you sign up with security. At Househat, all the landlords who agree to share the house have to go through a thorough verification process so that the tenant can stay assured and stress free. The verification process is designed as such that all the fallacies in the system/house (if there are any) come across. We make sure that each and everything is taken care of before handing over the keys to tenants, and hold ourselves accountable.

We stand against Property/Rental scams.