Scammers Fleece Rental Home Owners

By Sharon Fox-Slater on 28 Oct 2015
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Holiday home Courtesy CC pbkweeA

Photo credit: Copyright CC courtesy pbkwee

It’s becoming a common story – with a bad ending for property investors…

Your holiday home is sitting vacant when a last-minute rental booking comes in.

Keen to secure the booking and meet a desperate-sounding request, you view a copy of an online bank transfer receipt as proof of payment and handover the keys.

A week or so later, you realise the rental funds never arrived.

So, you try the credit card they supplied – only to have that bounce too.

When you visit your home you find it unlocked, with keys and contents missing, items damaged and the property in a general mess. You feel a little stupid. But you shouldn’t.

Over the past few months, RentCover has received several insurance claims in Western Australia that follow that very story.

Landlords and property managers have viewed an online funds transfer receipt as proof of rental payment – and taken credit card details as back up – but both have been forged or rescinded by the rental scammers.

For home owners covered by the appropriate RentCover landlord insurance product, such as RentCoverShortTerm, they’ve recouped the costs of stolen and damaged items, as well as lost bookings while the property is repaired. Those without cover would be left high and dry.

So, as we enter a busy summer season of holiday and home rentals, RentCover is advising holiday home landlords and property managers to tick all the boxes before they handover the door code or keys:

  • Wait until rental payments clear in your account, even if the renter insists otherwise.
  • Request cash payment in person.
  • Use a property agent who can facilitate the process.
  • Visit the property immediately if you feel uneasy about the renter or notice payment funds haven’t hit your bank account.
  • Consider taking out landlord insurance to cover you if the worst should happen.


About the Author

Sharon Fox-Slater is the Executive General Manager of RentCover, a division of EBM Insurance Brokers which insures 120,000 investment properties around Australia. With 20 years’ experience in landlord insurance, Sharon’s top priority is customer service and positive customer comments are her biggest marker of success. Despite leaving school at 15, Sharon has forged a ground-breaking career – she was the first woman to become a Fellow of the National Insurance Brokers Association. Sharon was recently honoured to have been included in Insurance Business magazine’s Elite Brokers 2013 list.

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