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Imogen O’Flaherty Falconer, Joe Mee, Sai Gujulla and Barry Ó Siochrú (NUI Galway Students’ Union)

Clare students warned to be wary of accommodation scams

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CLARE students hoping to move to Galway for college this year are being warned to be wary of potential rental scams. With housing options in short supply NUI Galway Students’ Union is urging those seeking accommodation for the upcoming academic year to exercise caution before committing to a private residence this year.

The union advises that before rushing into signing a lease/contract it is extremely important to make sure the property fits the needs of all tenants and to look out for rental scams.

Imogen O’Flaherty Falconer, Students’ Union Vice-President/Welfare and Equality Officer says, “There are still some properties available so don’t panic and make sure you keep a close eye on all the accommodation websites especially www.nuigstudentpad.ie

The union have set out some handy tips for those seeking accommodation:

1. Be aware of the following rental scams: Scammer claims to be out of the country so can’t show you the property but requests a deposit. Scammer is living at the property, and shows a number of people around. They get a deposit from several people and then flee with the cash. The transaction appears to have gone smoothly until the renter finds that the keys don’t work and the landlord has disappeared.
2. Take your time when viewing a property. Ensure all the necessities are there eg washing machine, furnishings etc. Check that all gas and electrical appliances are in good working order.
3. Take photos of the property and make sure to highlight any damages already there eg cigarette burns, carpet stains, etc.
4. If there are any repairs to be made in the property, be sure to get it in writing from the landlord or agency that these problems will be rectified before handing over your deposit.
5. Avoid paying the deposit in cash and ensure you get a receipt for any moneys exchanged. You are legally entitled to a receipt so make sure to insist on one.
6. Request a viewing prior to the move in date to ensure that all outstanding issues have been rectified.
7. Ensure the house is well ventilated and that heating sources are identified prior to signing a contract/lease.
8. Insist that a building energy rating (BER) certificate is provided prior to signing the contract. This will help you know how cold the house is likely to get and will give you an idea of the cost for heating.
9. Ensure you are clear on the duration of the tenancy. If you sign a lease and leave early you may be liable to pay outstanding rent even though you are no longer living there. Check what the situation is in the event of a lockdown.
10. Make sure it’s clearly outlined in your lease which utility bills you must pay.
11. Take out contents insurance as the landlord’s policy will not cover your personal possessions.
12. For online learning check what the broadband speeds and deals are in the neighbourhood to make sure you will be well connected.

Imogen concludes, “Finding accommodation can be extremely stressful and people tend to rush into it. It is paramount that you follow these guidelines to avoid scams and ensure that the house you live in will be sustainable for you and your friends. Never rush into getting accommodation, be cautious and insist on receipts and any repairs where necessary. This will be where you stay for at least nine months so make sure you have all the necessities before making any commitments. Students still seeking accommodation should check www.nuigstudentpad.ie

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