Beware of rental scams

Read for how to protect yourself from recent housing scams

Image of students sitting on outdoor bench in courtyard


How to spot a rental scam and avoid being scammed...

The student rental market can often encourage tenants to move quickly to secure a property. Scammers use this sense of urgency to try and pressure you into sending money and/or personal information to secure a property that does not exist or has already been let.

Unfortunately, fraudsters often target students looking for accommodation, particularly via the likes of SpareRoom, Facebook and Gumtree. 

How to spot a rental scam 

Here are some of the signs of rental fraud to look out for: 

  • If the rental price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Scams often promise high returns for very little financial commitment, use your common sense with any listings that are significantly cheaper than others

  • Don’t be pressured into making a decision. Scammers often use pressure tactics to make students act quickly. If a prospective landlord is pushing you into transferring money or sending over personal information, take a step back and check the listing is legitimate before acting

  • Reverse image search. Two scams we came across stole images from legitimate listings on estate agents' websites. If you're suspicious of a property ad, it's worth running a reverse image search in Google to see if the photos have been stolen from elsewhere. Find out how to conduct a reverse image search

  • Don't give out personal data. Try to keep your conversation on the platform where the listing was posted if you can, and only hand over personal data if you're confident the user is legitimate. 

  • Check you're dealing with a genuine landlord. You can?search and verify landlord details for free on RentProfile, a service set up to protect tenants from fraudsters posing as landlords. If a landlord isn't listed, you can invite the landlord to sign up, or request a landlord background check for a small fee

How to avoid being scammed... 

  • Use a reputable letting agent. Check for Google reviews  

  • Avoid SpareRoom, Facebook and Gumtree. These platforms have few safeguards and are being currently targeted by scammers, see here for details 

  • Do not send money until you are certain the advertiser is genuine, or you have visited the property with an agent or landlord

  • Do not transfer large sums of money. Transfer funds to a bank account after obtaining details from the landlord or agent directly after the above steps have been followed. Be sceptical if you’re asked to transfer any money via a money transfer service like Western Union

  • Ask for tenancy documents. Legitimate advertisers will be able to provide copies of tenancy agreements and any safety certificates such as Gas Electricity or HMO Licence 

  • International students - seek help. If you need to secure accommodation in the UK from overseas, get a friend, contact or relative to check the property exists and is available. If you’re unsure if a landlord or agent is genuine, ask our Advice Team for help


Need housing advice? Read our Housing Guide or log an enquiry to speak with our Advice Team...

Find out more

Latest articles

Latest news from your Students' Union

Image BCU's Catering deals poster in Curzon Canteen

Student feedback secures 40% discount

Now available at BCU Catering campus outlets...

Tue 20 Feb 2024

Help make BCU a Hedgehog friendly campus

Get involved with sustainability at BCU......

Tue 06 Feb 2024

Where I can make change...

Luke talks through some of his key meetings and what impact they have......

Tue 23 Jan 2024
Image of BCUSU's President, Jay Dave

Jay's Officer update

Check out what your Officer Team has been up to this term......

Thu 14 Dec 2023
View more