Call for vigilance as scammers exploit Western Australian tenants during the current rental squeeze.

09 Sep 2022

The Perth rental market has been hit by low supplies and high demand. Out of desperation, more tenants searching for a rental, are turning to non-real estate website, which puts them at a higher risk of being scammed. The scammers are pretending to be landlords and, in most cases, presenting a fictitious property for lease.
According to Scamnet, “The scam works like this: the hopeful tenant is sent pictures of the property and answers a few questions, before being informed that they are the successful applicant. They are even invited to drive-by the property to view it externally, but excuses such as COVID-19 or the owner being overseas are provided as to why they can’t go inside at this point in time.
Then the money-grab begins – in order to ‘secure’ the property, the victim is told they need to pay the bond and rent upfront via bank transfer.  Funds paid into the trust account of a licensed real estate agent are protected by legislation.
A time is then arranged to meet at the property to receive the keys and that’s when the penny drops that it’s a scam. The property is either occupied, not available, or is in-fact for sale instead of being available to rent.”
What do I need to look out for?
Tenants should be wary when responding to ads on (non-real estate) “selling” websites or social media chat groups as Agencies don’t advertise or search for tenants on there. Agencies will not ask for money up front.  If they do, Google the address and google search the person that is asking for the money up front.  Is the property listed with an agency? If so, call that agency direct to confirm legitimacy of the rental.
Who can I turn to if I think I have been scammed?
Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) Consumer Protection, or call the agent who manages the property (this can be found through Google searches).  Report the scammers to Scamwatch.
How to protect yourself:

  • Be suspicious of properties being rented for well below the current rental value.
  • Never solely rely on photos being provided to you – do a reverse image search to see if they have been used previously.
  • Search the address given online to see if the property is listed by a different agency.
  • Only deal with landlords you can meet face-to-face or go through a licensed real estate agent.
  • Always inspect the property prior to signing a lease agreement.
  • Ensure you receive a copy of the signed lease agreement and the keys of the property in exchange for any funds you have agreed to pay.
  • Be careful if asked to pay funds via direct bank transfer unless you are sure the funds are being paid to a licensed real estate agent.
  • Know your rights as a tenant. Information can be found here on the Consumer Protection website
  • If in doubt – contact WA ScamNet on 1300 30 40 54.
Reasons you should go through a licenced real estate agency
We only advertise on genuine real estate websites.  We won’t ask tenants for a holding fee or rent upfront without viewing the property.  The property must be viewed and applications submitted through the agency and approved by the owner before we ask for any financial transaction.
During these times, it is always wise to do your due diligence. If you’re unsure about any part of the rental process, one of our highly trained professional Property Managers would be more than happy to assist you.

Back to blog