Am I being scammed?

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    Am I being scammed?

    Hello everyone, sorry for the stress post but I'm panicking a little bit.

    I was contacted by a private landlord a few days ago in response to a Gumtree ad I posted (I have to move asap so was advertising everywhere), and the property that she showed me fit the criteria I had specified in the post. We chatted over text and email and all seemed well, so we arranged a viewing date. In the meantime she asked me for a 'holding deposit', as she mentioned that other people were viewing the property and she would refuse offers if I was serious about renting. I had heard of holding deposits and did want the house, so paid it. This was £600 and was to be credited as my security deposit once I moved in (she said she would refund if I decided not to rent.) The asking rent wasn't 'too good to be true', it was about what I expected for the area.

    However, after I paid this I got very paranoid and started to regret not questioning why she was asking me for this before viewing the house (I'm a first-time renter). I managed to dig up old Rightmove photos from when the house was originally being sold (these are 2 years old), and some of the property, from what I can see, doesn't quite match up with the photos she showed me. The only thing that I think looks the same is the kitchen and some of the windows. The Rightmove photos showed an empty, unfurnished house which needed some work. She showed me a house which was fully furnished and had been lived in, I do think it possible that she may have just paid for some work to be done to the house the 2 years she lived there but now I really don't know.

    I also checked the address on the land registry - her name is not on it.

    I'm very worried at this point that I've handed over £600 to someone who is having me on, and I'm by no means rich so this will really hurt me financially with trying to secure another rental quickly. Can I hear some thoughts, is it possible for her to still be the landlord even though her name is not on the registry?

    I'm going to supposedly view this property on Thursday and I'm very anxious that this landlord might not turn up and run off with my money. Was I stupid to pay it, and what can I do if the worst happens? Thank you all.

    Stop panicking & attend the viewing.


      As above..... yes it was a little foolish to pay over the cash without even knowing that the property exists as its described but its done now, if i were the scammer and i already had your money i would not bother to continue with the charade and have you attend the 'viewing' i would just turn off my pay as you go mobile.......was the appt to view done at the same time as paying the cash or have you had other contact to arrange this viewing ?


        Spend £3 with land registry on house deeds and see what name & address is given for owner. If different from person you meet be suspicious:. But still could be legal.
        I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...


          Name not on the land registry is pretty dodgy, however there are cases where landlord is not the property owner.

          You should pay the holding deposit only after viewing, after all, what happens if you attend and it is a run down shed? Do you lose your holding deposit?

          As you have already paid however, I think you should just attend viewing with fingers crossed.


            Thanks all, I did pay the £3 and unfortunately this is where I said the name on the deed and the name of the person I've been talking to didn't match up. It was definitely lesson learned, never paying anything before a viewing again no matter how much I'm pressured. Tried not to stress but barely slept last night thinking about it.

            The viewing was arranged before she asked for the holding deposit, and sadly I did let myself get pushed into paying it. I stated originally to her that I might not be able to pay it immediately due to having already paid my current rent/bills and needing money to live off for the rest of the month. She said she understood, but had already turned down 2 offers due to my interest and needed some security on her end if she was to turn down more. She did state that this didn't meant I had to rent the property after viewing and that she would refund if I didn't decide to sign the tenancy (which I hope she was being truthful about).

            Will just have to see how Thursday goes I think.


              I don't know how much the rent is but the landlord should be taking just a weeks rent as a holding deposit so, if they have taken more then that may indicate either that they aren't aware of the recent change or indeed they are a scammer?


                Goobs27 The rent is £700 pcm and a holding deposit of £600 was taken.

                I have heard word from the landlord today - I had asked for the deposit back and that I would repay after the viewing if I wanted to put a deposit on the house, she responded that she had put the money into a Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS) and that if I was insisting on the money back then she would bring it in cash to the viewing on Thursday. I'm a bit confused as to why she has put it into a scheme when we have not yet entered into a tenancy agreement, is this normal?

                I'm also a bit worried about leaving a potential refund to Thursday as, if this is a scam, it may be too late for my bank's fraud department to potentially get the money back.


                  Definitely sounds like a scam. Money does not go into a deposit protection scheme until the tenancy is agreed.


                    The only question is why are they still responding? If a scam, it is either to give them time to scam others, or because they have plans to milk you for more money.


                      I'm starting to wonder if she's just new to being a landlord, and perhaps wasn't aware that holding deposits don't need to go into a deposit protection scheme? If she had not responded at all I think my suspicions would be confirmed, but now not sure. I'll see how Thursday goes I suppose, will report back here then.


                        if she has put the money into a deposit protection scheme there should be a number and log in detail so that you can check its safe in there - did you not get any paperwork from the lady ? Receipt ect ??
                        is the property still being advertised ect ?
                        Its quite possible that she isnt on the land registrly if shes an acting landlady for someone (a brother a husband maybe) or shes only just purchased it - you said it was advertised or rightmove some time back ? its possible that its been sold to someone who has done work on it -
                        is she still advertising the property ? get someone else to go onto gumtree and see if she is legit -
                        did she ask to see you passport /bank details/ anything like that , how exactly did you pay for it ? on line ?
                        Do you know anything else about this person ? full address ect
                        If i were you I would try to get the money back and be more careful next time


                          Hello overalltea

                          Hope this is Not a scam.

                          but if it is you could try claiming the money back via charge back, with in 28 days..


                          Banks offer a slimmer scheme if you paid by using the one off payment method

                          Good luck
                          Fed up with nitpickers and rivet counters...


                            Contact whatever organisation you used to transfer the money and explain what has happened.

                            When did you pay the money (the "1 week" rule came in at midnight at the start of June 1st).

                            If it is not a scam, then LL does not know what she is doing; holding deposit should be taken only when someone says "yes", and no further viewings should then be made. Up until that point she should have people viewing.


                              Get a friend to give her a call from a different number, pretending to be interested in the property and see if friend gets the same offer of a holding deposit etc or if they are told 'no, sorry, its gone. I can take your number incase it falls through'. Do that today.
                              If any doubt, issue a chargeback asap!


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