Airbnb Long Term Rental Scam

Morning All
I am searching for a rental property and have come across one that is being rented through AIRbnb, I have been communicating with the owner who has given me some information.
I have asked the rental cost and he has advised of an amount which to me sounds too cheap. It is paid monthly to AIRbnb. He has said I need to pay one months rent + security deposit to secure the apartment via AIRbnb. The keys will be delivered to my address within 2-3 business days after process is completed and confirmation is received from AIRbnb. I will be given a 5 day inspection period from the day I receive the keys and rent agreement. If I’m happy with the apartment, I sign the lease and it’s good to go, if I don’t sign lease, full refund will be received.
I am not familiar with this rental process.
Any advice on how I can check this is valid and above board.
TIA
Jo-Anne

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Others will have more experience but one inviolate truth is when something seems to good to be true, it is usually not.

Some obvious questions.

  • How long has the landlord been on AIRbnb?
  • Is AIRbnb a long term rental site or a quick tourist site for short term stayers?
  • Do you think AIRbnb acts as an escrow agent for property owners or only as a rental platform?
  • Can you do (is it possible to do) a property search to verify the name of the property owner is the same one advertising the rental, and at the same registered address? Can you contact them outside AIRbnb to verify the bona fides of the rental, or alert the real owner of a probable scam?
  • How much below market do you think the rental is? Why would it be below market?

Moving ahead if you choose to go ahead, what do you do if the keys don’t work? Or there is a family living there who is surprised by your knock on their door? Can you make that ‘knock on their door’ to check up? Is it an empty premise?

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This sounds dodgy to me, particularly since everything is done remotely without any contact with anyone else. It is worth noting Airbnb has been subject to scams.

If you decide to proceed, I would be asking for the address for a drive-by and also arrange an inspection of the property (or virtual tour with the owner you are dealing with) before making a commitment to pay. If it is a scam, they will use excuses why address can’t be given, along with why an inspection cant occur.

If they do give you an address, do a drive-by. I would also knock on the door to see if anyone is there. With address you can also do an owner search at a council to make sure the owner is also the person you are dealing with.

Generally the saying ‘if a price is too good to be true, it wont be true’ - it is and therefore is likely to be a scam. This is particularly the case where there is a high demand for rental properties in Australia - scammers know this and use this as it increases the chance the unsuspecting depart with their cash quickly as they don’t want to miss out.

A landlord using Airbnb for long term rentals can be expense compared to traditional methods. This also raises flags as well.

In your case it might not be a scam, but there are enough red flags to indicate things don’t look right. I would not be parting with any cash until you confirm independently they are the property owner, it is a legitimate Airbnb listing and you have inspected the property to ensure it is suitable. If you give them money before this is done, there is a risk it may be lost to scammers.

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Depending on which state or territory one lives in longer term rental agreements including the collection and holding of bonds are regulated. The agreements are on standard forms, signed and witnessed in advance.

It would we wise to check these requirements are being met with reference to your relevant government office. The proposed agreement through AirBNB is not only unusual, it may not be legal.

EG - for NT.
Renting in the NT | Northern Territory Consumer Affairs

General Support:

P.S.
AirBNB take a significant commission/charge from the owner. In comparison letting through a regular real estate agent, the costs ongoing are typically much less. I’m a ex landlord.

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In addition to the good advice provided by others, google “Airbnb long term rental scams” or similar to see how similar the “facts” provided to you are to reported scam cases.

What form of communication? If it has all been by email from somewhere in the world it might be wise to not have a lot of trust. On the other hand, if you have met someone in person there might be a higher, but by no means guaranteed, probability that rental is legitimate.

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So you pay rent and security deposit up front before you get to look at the property and before you have any right to the property with a lease in place?

That has scam all over it.

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Probably a scam. This news article mentions AIRbnb:

They get your money upfront and that’s the last you ever hear of them.

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No one would send you the keys to a property via mail / courier. Definitely a scam.

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100% a scam

I put the heavy on the guy who was “advertising” the unit. Asked him for more information, why the unit was so cheap. Told him Airbnb had no knowledge of him or this listing. Funnily enough, the listing has now disappeared. I read a post somewhere else where it was just about identical, word for word to the one I read.

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Glad for you that you avoided becoming a scam statistic.
:smiley:

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