Australia's rental market is suffering from a major crisis due to the high demand for accommodation in Australia and the market's inability to meet demand. As such, scammers are using the tumultuous rental market to take advantage of vulnerable people who are in need of accommodation.

As this is a big concern for renters and international students who are in need of accommodation, we're going to take a look at what rental scams are making the rounds, what to keep an eye on, and how to stay safe.

Just remember that if you need support or someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.

What sort of rental housing scams are out there?

Renters who are facing homelessness and international students with very few accommodation options are at their most vulnerable and are more likely to be exposed to scams. Some common rental scams to watch out for include:

  • Paying a bond, a deposit or rent up-front for a property that doesn't exist.

  • The property does not appear as advertised. This can be scenarios like certain amenities missing from the advertised property or the photos were taken a long time ago and no longer accurately showcase the property as it is now.

  • Paying more than your fair share of the rent (e.g. a lease-holder using their subtenants' contributions to cover their portion of the rent).

What do I need to keep an eye on?

The general rule of thumb when it comes to renting is that if something is too good to be true, then it almost certainly is. Other things to be mindful of when looking for rental properties include:

  • The rent is a lot cheaper than other similar properties in the area.

  • You're asked to sign a lease or pay a bond/deposit before you have seen the property.

  • The photos or descriptions of the property don’t match up.

  • The landlord or real estate agent constantly makes excuses as to why you can’t view the property, (e.g. they are in another state or overseas).

  • The landlord or agent requests money via a transfer.

  • The landlord or agent creates a sense of urgency, saying that the property won’t be available long.

What can I do to stay safe?

The important thing when looking for a rental property is to do your due diligence when researching. This means not revealing your personal details, inspecting the property in person, getting second opinions from people you trust, and triple-checking that the advertised property information is correct. Furthermore, you lower the risk of running into a rental scam if you use well-known rental platforms, such as Domain and Real Estate, compared to a sheet of paper with a number stuck to a light pole.

In addition to using common sense and doing your due diligence when researching rental properties, it's important to understand your rights as a tenant. Each state and territory in Australia has its own tenant rights body so you can head over there to get all the info you need about tenant rights:

If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.

Information sourced from: ABC #1 and ABC #2

Image credit: Community

All content in Sonder's Help Centre is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

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