Do your homework – research a number of rental properties in your desired area so that you have an idea of the average prices being charged. Be cautious if the rent seems unusually low – if it seems too good to be true, it usually is!
Use online maps to double-check that the property being advertised actually exists, and is at the address specified.
Watch out for error contacts – if you notice the advertiser has given you incorrect contact details, that the phone keeps ringing out or that emails are bouncing, it might be worth asking for more information from them.
Keep copies of all correspondence between yourself and the advertiser, including bank details and the advertisement itself.
Don’t hand over any money until you have seen the property and are happy with its condition. It might be a good idea to bring a friend or family member with you – it can be useful to get a second opinion, especially if this is your first time renting.
If you pay cash to secure a property and it turns out you have been scammed, you will have little comeback. Paying by cheque ensures that your money is traceable. Always get a receipt for any payments made and keep them safe. You could also consider paying by card.
Get the landlord/agent/advertiser to meet you at the property and pay them the deposit when you are face-to-face. Don’t make any payments until you have been given the keys and signed the rental contract.