Students beware of fake accommodation

By Drum Digital
19 January 2017

The South African police have sent a strong warning to students to make sure they are not conned out of their money while looking for accommodation.

As students wrap up their registration process, those who have been accepted into university have the task of looking for accommodation if they do not get into student residences provided for by the university.

In Port Elizabeth an 18-year-old student paid a deposit of R3 500 for accommodation that she found on a popular website, only to find that the address did not exist.  The SAPS is investigating a case of fraud.

Keletso Makeng of the Rental Housing Tribunal says students need to be careful when responding to adverts for private accommodation.

“Students starting university face being ripped off by dishonest landlords and letting agents when it comes to finding a place to live,” she says.

“The common unfair practices affecting students include failure to refund deposits, unfair lease agreement terms and being sold non-existing accommodation.”

She encourages those looking for accommodation to call the Rental Housing Tribunal for assistance.

Here are tips for students who are looking for accommodation:

  • Do not, under any circumstances, deposit or pay money to anyone for accommodation before viewing the actual advertised accommodation and verifying that the person is the actual landlord or acting on behalf of the landlord.
  • Insist on a receipt for any money paid.
  • Always ask for a copy of the lease agreement and make sure that you read and understand the terms and conditions.
  • Insist on viewing the advertised dwelling, this helps in ensuring that the property exists. It also helps in making an informed decision on whether to rent the property or not.
  • Always take time to check and verify that the person is genuine before parting with any money.
  • Don’t be desperate.

How to identify scams:

  1. The scammer will ask you to pay monies upfront to secure accommodation.
  2. You are asked to pay a deposit and rent to secure the property at the viewing site.
  3. The advertiser refuses to take you to the advertised property until monies are paid.

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