Students warned to look out for bogus landlords as accommodation hunt begins

New flyer campaign urges homeowners to rent their spare rooms to students

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Trinity College Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

Students have been warned to look out for accommodation scams as they begin the difficult search for housing after today’s release of Leaving Cert results.

The Irish Property Owners Association (IPOA) has advised prospective tenants to ask landlords for some form of identification, such as a membership card or utility bill, to confirm ownership of the house or apartment being rented.

This will help students avoid many of the kind of bogus operations that scam people out of thousands of euro in deposits each year.

Renters have also been urged to inspect accommodation to ensure it is suitable before handing over any money.

Students should then get a receipt from the person they have identified as the owner or agent.

Those who are new to the market can familiarise themselves with legislation on the private rented sector on the Residential Tenancies Board website, www.rtb.ie.

Stephen Faughnan of the IPOA said: "It is alarming that a student may be conned by a person purporting to represent our sector.

"Thankfully, this is a rare occurrence but to try to prevent it happening we appeal to students to make sure that your landlord is a member of the Irish Property Owners Association or a licensed letting agent."

Meanwhile, as record numbers vie for third-level places, homeowners have been encouraged to rent their spare rooms to students, tax-free.

The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is to flyer 100,000 homes across Ireland this week to promote its new digs campaign, www.homes.usi.ie.

Under the government’s rent-a-room scheme, homeowners don’t have to pay tax on rental income earned from digs unless it exceeds a yearly cap of €12,000.

The USI is highlighting the tax incentives as part of an initiative to secure more affordable accommodation for students.

Annie Hoey, its president, said: “We will be targeting houses located close to colleges across Ireland that have spare rooms.

“On August 1st, there were only 87 rental properties in Cork city – 1,000 less than there was the same day six years ago.

“The flyers will be a direct marketing means to inform the public about how bad the rental crisis is and how much money they can make from renting out spare bedrooms to students.”

The campaign will also see geo-targeted online ads being rolled out on DoneDeal.ie and Adverts.ie, alongside a social media campaign.

To qualify for the scheme, your home must be occupied as your sole residency.

While tenants may also avail of the tax incentives, relief only applies in cases of residential tenancies, not short-term lets.

Renting your room out to a student over the course of a college year is covered, for example, but taking different people in every weekend is not.

The scheme will not affect your mortgage interest relief or your exemption from capital gains tax (CGT) if you sell your home.