Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Derry university students warned over accommodation ad scams

5 September, 2009 - by Maeve McLaughlin


Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Martina Anderson has appealed to students from Derry planning to go to university and who are looking for new accommodation to fully check out the letting agencies and the track record of private landlords who advertise on the internet before they sign any tenancy agreements or hand over large deposits for rent.

Martina Anderson said:

"Currently hundreds of A level students in Derry are making plans about what university they will attend and what accommodation they will need for the duration of their studies.

“For many of those students it will be the first time they have lived outside the family home and looking for accommodation can be a daunting task particularly in a new area. I would appeal to students and their parents to go through well established letting agencies and check the track record of private landlords who advertise on the internet before they sign any tenancy agreements or hand over large deposits.

“I was recently contacted by the parents of several students from Derry who had been caught out in a rental scam. The students were looking for accommodation in Belfast and saw a house they liked on the internet and paid nearly £800 pounds of a deposit. Then it all went wrong.

“They spent weeks trying to get paperwork and keys, both of which never materialised. The owner never answered their calls, the contact ran cold and they lost all their money. They then had to find a deposit for a new house. But it was a very costly and stressful period.”

Martina Anderson concluded by saying:

“Tenancy agreements help to protect your rights as a tenant and outline what your obligations will be. It’s important that anyone handing money over for a deposit for accommodation gets a receipt and copy of their tenancy agreements.

“I would urge students not to hand over any money until they have had a good look around the property; and to check for obvious signs of disrepair, damp, badly fitting doors or windows, or anything that could compromise your security. It might also help to take a friend or relative with them you to get their views on the property.” ENDS

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