When looking for a unit to rent, platforms such as Facebook and Carousell may not come to mind immediately. However, the two platforms have come to become a source for great deals, primarily due to the fact that owners can sidestep agents and list their properties directly to prospective tenants.
But, despite its positives, such platforms can also serve as a hotbed for scammers to fish for victims. To help prevent prospective tenants from falling prey to such scams, we’ve created a guide highlighting what you need to know and look out for when searching for your next home on Carousell and Facebook.
Pros & cons: finding a rental unit on Carousell & Facebook
Image credit: Rooms Rental Singapore Facebook group
Groups such as Room Rental Singapore and Singapore Rental Rooms For Professionals And Students have over 50,000 members, providing an excellent avenue for landlords and tenants to connect. Carousell, on the other hand, is an online marketplace for Singaporeans looking to buy and sell things – and rental homes are on the menu too.
The upside to using these platforms as opposed to more traditional property portals is that you’re mostly dealing with homeowners, not agents. And with that comes the benefit of not having to part with up to 1-month’s rent that goes to the agent’s commission.
Here’s a caveat though, an increasing number of agents have started to list their properties on these platforms, so you’ll want to read the post description thoroughly to suss out whether or not agent fees are involved.
Image credit: Carousell
An additional benefit to using Facebook and Carousell is the likelihood of the homeowner seeing your message sooner and responding, as these apps usually have push notifications. Carousell also lets you see when the last time the poster was active, making it great for those looking for a home urgently.
Carousell even compiles collections of listings that meet specific attractive criteria, such as Home Rentals under $900, to help you narrow down your search and help you find your ideal home.
But as navigating property listings on Carousell and Facebook groups is akin to a treasure hunt, concealed amidst the hidden gems are potential pitfalls.
Besides facing the risk of falling victim to a scam, as the listings depend on landlords to advertise their properties properly, some listings may lack information or have unclear photos, possibly turning off potential renters.
Tips to protect yourself from getting scammed
1. Verify the listing
Image credit: Carousell
Here are some ways you can stop yourself from falling into any traps when looking for your next home:
One way you can tell a bogus listing from a genuine one is by making sure that a legitimate lister made the listing by looking out for a verified landlord tag. Be sure to also keep an eye out for any available reviews which may give you a clue as to whether or not the seller can be trusted.
If it happens to be a listing by an agent, you should look out for the UEN number to prove that it’s a registered firm.
2. Ensure the landlord’s contact number is valid
Image credit: ACEAS
Regardless of whether you find yourself dealing with a landlord or an agent, you’ll want to run that phone number through Truecaller to ensure the number is valid and hasn’t been previously flagged for spam. Agent numbers are also stored in the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) database, and you can easily search to see if the agent you’re dealing with is as legit as they claim to be.
At this point, it might be helpful to request for proof of identification in the form of a passport or NRIC copy – it’ll come in handy when you’re viewing the apartment.
Do note that under law, landlords are not obligated to give any proof of identification apart from their name, but if your landlord is understanding enough with nothing to hide, it’ll definitely help give you greater peace of mind.
3. Request to see title deed
During discussions with the landlord, there’s no harm in asking to see documentation to prove that the person you’re speaking to is indeed the true property owner if they claim to be the landlord.
This Title Deed can be easily accessed via Singpass within a few minutes, so if someone refuses to show you this, it might be a telling sign. If the apartment you’re renting is an HDB, you can also ask to see the letter of eligibility to rent that HDB will issue to all HDB homeowners looking to rent out their properties.
According to HDB’s rules and regulations, owners are required to seek approval before renting out their units, and failure to do so may result in an imposition of a penalty and/or compulsory acquisition of the flat.
4. Do a proper viewing of the rental unit
Image credit: Zula.sg
Before you ink that deal or part ways with your hard-earned cash, do a full tour of the property to see what you’re getting yourself into since pictures can often be deceiving. You’ll want to go in armed with this rental checklist to make sure that you’re covering all grounds and safeguarding your rental deposit from unnecessary claims.
Don’t let the landlord rush the process; you mostly get only one chance to check everything before signing off on the apartment.
5. Sign the tenancy agreement before making any payment
Image credit: Property Guru
Once everything is done, the last thing to do is to put pen to paper and finalise the agreement via a tenancy agreement. But before you make that final step, it’s important that you thoroughly read through the terms before accepting them.
By doing so, you can clarify any terms or request for an amendment to avoid any unnecessary future misunderstandings or headaches with your landlord. The signing should occur in the presence of both the tenant and the landlord and a third-party witness, such as an agent or a lawyer.
Because there isn’t a comprehensive law in Singapore that governs landlord-tenant relationships, the tenancy agreement is critical in protecting both the tenant and the landlord’s rights.
Is it safe to rent units through Carousell & Facebook groups?
The verdict: It is relatively safe to rent a unit you find on Carousell or Facebook, but you’ll have to do your due diligence to make sure you’re not getting fleeced. So keep this list handy the next time you chance upon what seems like an unbelievable rental deal, and you’ll be fine!
Read our other rental-related articles here:
- 5 horrible landlord & tenant experiences
- 6 most important things to know as a tenant
- 7 landlord red flags to look out for
Cover image from: Better team, Pexels
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