As we are now at the beginning of the new academic year, a lot of students will be coming to work and study in Ireland and will be looking for accommodation.
At present, Dublin is experiencing a rental crisis with the supply of student accommodation unable to meet the growing demand. This has resulted in sky-high rents with quality and affordable accommodation becoming impossible to find.
This trend is also set to continue, and it is predicted that the number of students in the high-quality English Language Teaching sector will increase by 25% by 2020.
Although most schools offer host family and student residence accommodation, with average prices around the €220 per week price range, long term students who want to work and study in Ireland prefer to find cheaper apartment shares through websites such as www.daft.ie.
This issue of high demand versus low supply has resulted in an increase of rogue operators entering the market, capitalising on the lack of information given to students.
What types of scams are there?
Our safe guide to finding accommodation in Ireland will advise you on what pitfalls to look out for and how to avoid being the victim of accommodation scams.
Scam # 1 – Paying cash upfront
This scam involves visiting the apartment you would like to rent and meeting the landlord. The landlord then requests a deposit and some month’s rent in advance (which can be more than €1600), all paid in cash. Following this you are given keys but when you arrive to the apartment the next day you discover that they keys don’t work and you have in fact been scammed into paying for an apartment that the landlord may have rented to falsify it as an available property.
Scam # 2 – Landlord abroad
Some rogue landlords claim that they are based abroad and rent their apartment while it’s empty. Using the Airbnb model, they then request that money is transferred into an account (sometime abroad) and following this an invite to meet the landlords ‘rental agents’ at the apartment. In this article a couple discuss how they were scammed by this particular scheme.
Scam # 3 – Illegal & cramped accommodation
There have been recent cases of rogue landlords placing bunkbeds in bedrooms and asking tenants to pay cash-in-hand for beds. In many cases there is one shower, one kitchen, fines for cooking and refusals to return deposits unless a new tenant is found by the exiting tenant.
One way for landlords to legitimise this practice is to live in the property. This means the landlord is exempt from landlord-tenant legislation.
Dublin City Council recently discovered a landlord who rented 16 bunkbeds in 3 bedrooms with no tenant’s right, fire hazards and an extremely unhygienic environment. Each bed was rented for €445 per month.
How to avoid being scammed
1 – If you suspect something strange is happening, talk to your teacher and ask them to call the number. As rogue landlords generally target vulnerable foreign students, they may hang up and be scared off when they hear an Irish person calling them.
2 – If it’s too good to be true – it probably is. There are many email spam collection agencies advertising on Facebook rental groups, using attractive and cheap apartments as bait. When you click on the photo on Facebook, you are either diverted to a completely different page to boost their presence on Google, or asked to send an email which will in turn be used for spam marketing.
3 – Never pay any money online and make sure you can see the apartment before making any agreement or signing any contract
4 – Report the scam to www.threshold.ie (housing rights authority). If you are suspicious of a listing on Daft.ie you can also click the “Report Ad” beneath the photographs on each listing.
What are my rights as a foreign student?
On July 1st 2017, new regulations were introduced to set a minimum standard for tenants.
The standards relate to, structural condition, provision of sanitary facilities, food preparation, storage and laundry, availability of adequate heating, lighting and ventilation, safety of oil, electricity and gas installations, fire safety and refuse facilities.