Tips to avoid a rental scam in South Africa

Tips to avoid a rental scam in South Africa

Finding a flat to rent is one of the first steps to take when moving towards your independence. 

Not only does independence give you freedom, but also a sense of accomplishment. But because of rental scams, the journey to finding the perfect home can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, the internet has made it easier for scammers to find their next victim; they know people are desperate, and they use this to their advantage. So, when flat hunting, you need to be able to identify peculiar situations. 

Read how you can spot a scammer and what the telltale signs are. 

Meet the landlord before anything else

The first tip on how to avoid rental scams is to meet the landlord in person. When you see a place you like, contact the landlord and ask to view the property and to meet in person. Meeting in person will allow you to view the flat you’re looking to rent, see if it meets your needs, and it gives you a chance to verify the listing information to ensure it’s correct. For extra precaution when meeting the landlord, make sure you are accompanied by someone whom you trust. As we all know, two eyes are better than one. So, this will ensure you aren’t pressured or manipulated into agreeing to anything. If the landlord makes excuses as to why you can’t see them or the flat, then, this is a telltale sign that you might become a rental scam victim.

Speak to tenants

There is nothing wrong with getting a second opinion. When viewing a flat to rent, ask to talk with a few tenants. The tenants will confirm the information the owner gave you, and you will have the opportunity to ask them any further questions that might concern you. Asking around allows you to get a glimpse of what it is like to live there, and whether there is anything you need to be aware of. 

The price is too good to be true

As much as you’d like to save money where possible; be realistic. Yes, there are many affordable flats in Johannesburg, but if it seems too good to be true, then it usually is. If you find a flat that fits your budget, is in a safe area and has all the trimmings you want, you need to reassess the situation. 

This is not to say you cannot find a good deal, but you need to investigate your findings. Find out what the average price for renting in the area is, and see if it matches what you have been offered. 

Always trust your gut and avoid getting into a deal simply because it’s too “good to miss out on”. 

Listing is vague with little information

In the digital space, you need to really sell what you’re selling. Now, the same applies with rentals as you need enough information on your listing to attract prospective tenants. If you come across a vague listing with hardly any information, then this is a scam alert. Trusted listings and websites will have sufficient information and pictures to help prospective tenants like yourself get an idea of what they’re offering. So, to avoid scams, a listing should at least have the following: 

  • Several pictures.
  • A unit description.
  • A unit type. 
  • A landlord or housing supervisor’s contact information.

An eager owner wanting you to sign the contract

Avoid a landlord who is eager for you to sign on the dotted line. 

Before a rental agreement can go through, tenants need to be screened. Most landlords need to look at your credit score and do a background check to ensure you are trustworthy and able to pay the monthly rent. So, the lack of screening should tell you that this is a potential scam. 

Final thoughts

Although scam artists have become savvier over time, you can still catch them out. All you need to do is be on the lookout, don’t trust easily and always ask questions when needed. At JHC, we understand that finding a flat to rent can be difficult. This is why we are here to offer you our services and guidance when needed. So, if you’re searching for a flat to rent, whether it is your first apartment or you need a change of scenery, visit the Johannesburg Housing Company website and make contact with us using any of the communication channels we have.