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Finding a student property: advice on how to avoid scams

Written by: SU Advice https://www.upsu.com/advice/

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On occasion, we have seen University of Plymouth students who have posted about their housing search on various social media sites and have then been contacted by potential scammers asking for them to pay a deposit for a property that potentially does not exist. 

We have put together some top tips on staying alert, avoiding scammers, and ensuring the property you are looking to rent is genuine.

1. Check the property exists. Use a search tool such as Google Maps to check the address of the property and that it is situated where you are expecting it to be. 

2. View the property. This way you can ensure the property exists and see the condition of the house/room you are looking to move into. If the person is refusing to offer you a viewing of the property, this should signal that something is not right. Never hand over any money until you have viewed the property. 

3. When you pay the deposit, it is preferable that the funds are transferred via bank transfer and not cash. 

4. Ensure the communication you have with a landlord/letting agent is professional. This communication should take place via email and should not be aggressive, threatening or make you feel pressured. We understand students very often use social media platforms to communicate, however, these channels should not be used to communicate with landlords or letting agents. 

5. Get your contract checked by a member of the advice team to ensure, as far as possible, that this is not a scam or fake tenancy. Please ensure that you send through your contract to advice@su.plymouth.ac.uk before signing. 

If you have any doubts, feel it’s too good to be true, or are unsure about anything related to taking on a new property, please do not hesitate to reach out and speak with our Student Advice team. We are here to support you and want to ensure you have a good experience when finding a new house. You can contact the team either by phone, 01752 588373 or via email at advice@su.plymouth.ac.uk and a member of the team will be happy to speak with you. 

Find out more about our accommodation support services on the SU Advice page here, including advice on finding accommodation, contracts, and deposits.

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