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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Alamy Stock Photo Gardaí suggests criminals are catching on to how vulnerable the situation truly is by knowing when, who and where to strike.
Scam Warnings

Student Accommodation: Landlords join calls for caution and blame 'unfavourable conditions' for scarcity

Three separate warnings have been issued in the last week, as availability of student accommodation continues to dwindle.

THE IRISH PROPERTY Owners’ Association (IPOA) has joined other calls for caution  for students to look out for signs of accommodation fraud ahead of the upcoming academic year.

The latest warning, from the landlord representative group, advocates for “heightened vigilance” among students who are seeking accommodation this year, in a dwindling market.

The IPOA said that the lack of available student accommodation is due “many property owners choosing to sell up and leave the rental market” because of “unfavourable conditions”.

The property owners’ representative body suggests that the shortage has “opened the student rental market” to criminals attempted to scam artists.

However, a separate warning from An Garda Síochána suggests that criminals are aware of how precarious the situation is and know who and where to strike.

Gardaí last week warned students “to be wary of rental scams” after its economic crime branch found around one-third of all accommodation fraud occurs during August and September each year – when students are most desperate for a place to stay as the semester begins.

Additionally around a half of all rental scams also take place in Dublin, where only one student-specific accommodation unit is advertised to rent on property portal as of today. 

The economic crime branch also found that over half of all victims to rental scams are aged under-25, leading the student cohort to be most vulnerable to this crime. There was a 38% increase in rental scams in 2022, compared to 2021.

Housing charity Threshold, in partnership with various national students’ unions, also warned against rental scams in a new campaign. The charity say false websites, fakes accounts on social media and dummy replica websites of popular renting portals are becoming common methods that criminals use to scam students.

John-Mark McCafferty, the charity’s CEO said: “Threshold is increasingly aware of a surge of rental scams, particularly ahead of the academic period, with students unfortunately being easy targets. In a highly competitive, low supply rental market, scams are on the rise.”

The charity were particularly targeting international students, who are attempting to find accommodation before the arrive in Ireland, as Vice President for Welfare of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Colette Murphy told The Journal last week that scams are common place especially international students.

Murphy said: “In terms of prevalence – yes, it’s very prevalent among international students.”

According to the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS) a recent survey determined that one in seven international students who travelled to Ireland fell victim to a rental scam.

Laura Harmon, Executive Director of the group said: These students are often more vulnerable as English is not their first language and they usually don’t have relations or friends they can stay with in the short-term while looking for a place to live.

“We encourage all students to read and heed all the advice in this campaign, and to contact the various channels provided if they have concerns or queries.

Murphy said last week that domestic students usually have much more freedom in their choices and can spot a red flag easier, compared to students who are attempting to find somewhere to stay from outside of the country.

McCafferty said that it is important that students and all renters are aware of scams and take “appropriate actions to prevent themselves from falling into these traps”.


All three warnings came with preventative measures to that students should take so they do not fall victim to rental scams. All three warnings advised tenants to always inspect the property in person, before determining and finalising any lease.

Additionally, the warning from the gardaí said that “ideally” the landlord should be registered with the Residential Tenancies Board and the rent match the average price for location in the area.

Threshold and An Garda Síochána both warned students against paying through cash, and advised that all transactions for rent should be done through bank transfer, as a a renter will would have a higher chance of recovering their money from your bank.

Gardaí go further and suggest not to transfer money via Revolut and do not send funds by cryptocurrency or to a random PayPal address.

“Pay in a way that is traceable and/or refundable,” their warning added.

Threshold, along with the USI and ICOS, both advise students to look out for “red flags” such as very low rent, a landlord living abroad and providing foreign bank account details or inconsistent information.

Additionally, IPOA says that prospective tenants should look out for rent prices that are “too good to be true” and offers through messaging services like WhatsApp.

Chair of the association Mary Conway said: “While it is disheartening that these precautions have become necessary, the presence of unscrupulous actors across various sectors, not just in the rental market, necessitates that people are ultra-vigilant when paying deposits.

Conway added that the property owners group are committed to protecting the reputation of real landlords and protecting future tenants from fraud.

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