When looking for rental accommodation or purchasing property, it’s crucial to be aware of potential red flags that could indicate scams or fraudulent activities. Here are some key warning signs you should never ignore:


Rental Red Flags:

  • Non-Refundable Deposits Before Viewing: Be cautious if a landlord or agent asks for a non-refundable deposit before you’ve seen the property or met them. This could be a scam.
  • Repeatedly Cancelled Showings: If showings keep getting cancelled, question whether the property is real.
  • Unbelievably Low Rent: If the rent seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Poor Communication: If the agent or landlord stalls or ignores you, be wary.
  • Pressure to Pay Deposits or Sign Paperwork: Don’t rush into paying deposits or filling out paperwork before proper procedures are followed.
  • No Credit Check or References: If they say a credit check or references aren’t necessary, this is a red flag.
  • Lack of Information on the Agent: If you can’t find any information about the agent online or they don’t provide an office number and email, be cautious.
  • History of Doubtful Dealings: If an internet search shows the agent has been reported for dubious activities, avoid them.
  • Unprofessional Agency Websites: If the real estate agency has an amateurish website or no online presence, think twice.
  • Unknown Agents: If the claimed agency doesn’t recognize the agent or says they no longer work there, be suspicious.
  • No Valid Fidelity Fund Certificate: Agents should be able to produce a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate, which you can verify on the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) website.


Home Buying Red Flags:

  • Too-Good-To-Be-True Prices: If the selling price is extremely low, it could indicate a scam.
  • Undisclosed Office Locations: If the agent or seller doesn’t disclose their office location, be wary.
  • Unresponsive Agents/Sellers: If they avoid providing necessary paperwork, question their legitimacy.
  • Inconsistent Paperwork: Look for inconsistencies in documents like land size or registered owner details.
  • Direct Deposit Demands: Never deposit funds directly into the seller’s account without using a reputable lawyer or agent.
  • High Pressure to Sign and Pay: Be cautious if pressured to quickly sign agreements or pay deposits.
  • Cash Buyers Without Proof: If a cash buyer can’t provide proof of funds, be sceptical.
  • Discrepancies in Title Deed: Ensure the title deed matches the seller’s claims.
  • Early Occupation Requests: If a buyer insists on moving in before paying a deposit or securing a loan, be cautious.


Tips to Avoid Property Scams:

  • Use Reputable Agents: Always use estate agents registered with the Property Practitioners Regulatory Authority (PPRA). Check their registration on the PPRA website.
  • Verify Property and Seller: Conduct thorough research to confirm the legitimacy of the property and the seller. Verify the property’s existence on Google Maps and ask for identification from the landlord or seller.
  • Meet in Person: Insist on meeting the agent at their office or the landlord/seller in person before viewing the property.
  • Secure Transactions: Be cautious with personal or financial information online and use secure platforms for transactions.
  • Be Wary of Unrealistic Deals: If a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is. Question extremely low rentals or sale prices.
  • Avoid Upfront Payments: Legitimate agents won’t ask for upfront payments other than for lease or credit check fees. Walk away if asked to pay a deposit before viewing the property.
  • Consult Legal Experts: Ensure all documentation is legitimate by consulting legal professionals and property experts. They can identify discrepancies.
  • Trust Your Instincts: If something feels suspicious, walk away.


Additional Advice:

  • Verify Agent Credentials: Check the agent’s Fidelity Fund Certificate number with the PPRA. Confirm their employment with the claimed property company.
  • Use Trust Accounts: Ensure deposits are paid into a trust account managed by a reputable entity.
  • Work with Verified Agents: Use verified agents and platforms for better security and peace of mind.


By following these precautions and consulting professionals, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to property scams, whether you’re renting, buying, or selling.