Beware of scammers when renting a house online

It is important to confirm if the owner of the property is renting it out before making any payments. File photo

What you need to know:

  • Get documentation. Kizito says that not getting everything in writing when renting an apartment is very risky because if the company is operating on the internet, getting an online contract is also a lawful option, as it is just as valid as a paper one!

Renting an apartment online has made the work of property agencies easier than before. Currently, different real estate agencies and companies are offering a range of apartments for rent on their websites.
This can help you choose apartments that suit your taste and wallet. You can even book online. Gerald Teywa, a real estate manager, says to ensure you have a good and safe experience when you rent an apartment online, there are several things you can pay attention to while looking for an apartment.

Payment methods
Tenywa says when you want to pay for your apartment, whether it is for a deposit of the rent itself, be careful not to use services of payment that have no traceability.
“By making wire transfers to a bank account or using credit cards, make sure the payment can be tracked. You can also pay directly through a website that displays secure payment methods,” Tenywa says.
He adds that conmen use all kinds of methods such as affected websites, unreliable emails and more to convince you of their authority. A way to guard yourself against fraud is to be very careful when giving out personal information online.

Not asking for details
Teywa says if you find an apartment online that you like and you do not have a chance to visit it in person, try to acquire as much information as you can such as pictures , videos, Floor plan and other information about a rental you are interested in .
“Genuine real estate companies have access to a variety of information about an apartment they’re listing for rent. It is important to be certain that the property owner can legally rent out the apartment,” Tenywa says.

He adds that in these modern technology era with digital cameras, internet and smartphones, it really does not make sense if a company or an owner is not at least able to provide you with some pictures. “When you want to rent an apartment online, always make sure that you know exactly who you are dealing with if you have ever heard about them,” Teywa says.

Failure to check reviews
Teywa says if you are using the services of a real estate agency, make sure to have a contract signed between you and the company that states clearly what you are renting, and for how long.
“If you are renting an apartment directly from an owner, always make sure that you sign a lease. When the owner collects your rent, also make sure to ask him for a receipt,” Teywa says.

Too good to be true
Tenywa says if you think something sounds too good to be true, be viglant like when a two bedroom house is at Shs 200,000 in one of the prime areas in Kampala you have to do further research about the property. “One way to avoid falling for such a scam. Carry out some research on the average price of apartments at locations you’re looking at. You can also have a look at some reputable real estate websites,” Teywa advises.

Allen Ndyanabo, who is a victim of online renting scams, says although renting an apartment online is easy, it is very unsafe if you are not very carefull.
“My working station shifted on a short notice and I was forced to look for an apartment in that new place online but I was very disappointed. What I was given was different,” Ms Ndyanabo says.
She adds that some real estate agencies use other people’s pictures to market their companies.
Muhammed Kizito, a real estate manager, says, when it comes to online business is very smooth but some companies are using this chance to kill others because people think that online marketing is not right.

Get documentation
Kizito says that not getting everything in writing when renting an apartment is very risky because if the company is operating on the internet, getting an online contract is also a lawful option, as it is just as valid as a paper one!
“Before you accept the terms and conditions of the contract make sure you actually agree with them, and do not hesitate to ask questions if you believe something is not clear enough,” Mr Kizito says .
He adds that make sure all the details are accurate and reflect the terms you agree on with the owner or agency.

Tricks by fake agencies

Using fake pictures on website
This trick involves the real estate agent getting a super-hot lead on a very desirable property, something which a real estate developer could make a lot of money on.

Double commission
The agent closes the deal with their own buyer and gets both sides of the commission, as well as the promise to get the listing once their developer client has undecided about the property.