Monday, 24, June, 2024

Using online platforms is one of the most convenient ways to search for houses and apartments for rent. It is obviously cheaper: a potential tenant can identify good price offers in advance, filtering them as per the set parameters. For example, , 289,704 advertisements for one-day and long-term rental of apartments and houses were posted on olx.uz in the “Real Estate” category in 2022 and 330,067 in 2023.

Advertisers, using special options can provide detailed characteristics of estates. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to information about the area, price, living conditions, location, proximity to infrastructure and other important parameters.

It is possible that among the variety of offers from landlords, there may be fraudulent traps that not only beginners, but also experienced applicants can be trapped. The chief of the “Real Estate” department of OLX Uzbekistan Usman Aliev noted:

“Unfortunately, fraud, particularly on the Internet, has become a widespread problem in our country. And the real estate rental industry is no exception. Indecent people, under the guise of tenants, deceive gullible citizens. And in order to avoid the tricks of cunningly constructed schemes that lead to loss of money, leakage of personal data or security risks when searching for rental housing, it is necessary to pay attention to various important factors.”

How to protect yourself and not fall victim to scammers? We analyzed the experience of users of the OLX.uz platform and other resources offering rental housing, and identified several characteristic signs that may indicate fraudulent schemes. Having studied a certain number of cases of fraud in the field of real estate rental, we have identified a number of characteristic features that distinguish fake advertisements from real ones. Based on the experience of specialists and the recommendations of real estate expert Usman Aliyev, we have prepared a list of “red flags” that will help you recognize potential fraud and avoid trouble.

What to look for in rental advertisements

Conditions that are too good for its price. If it seems that the terms of renting an apartment are too good for its price than its market price (which you probably have already studied), this may be one of the indicators of a scam offer. Be careful and check the information.

Lack of photos or presence of photos with a Photoshop effect. It is suspicious if the ad does not contain photographs of the apartment or a specific location, rental costs and housing and utility conditions. Photos of the interior of the property for rent should also be carefully checked for watermarks or through an image search engine.

Contact Information. Don't open suspicious links. Avoid clicking on them, especially if they come from unreliable sources. Such links may lead to phishing sites or containing malware. It is better to check the reliability of sites manually in a search engine. As an example, a valid site URL looks like https://m.olx.uz/.

Checking ratings and reviews. Before making your final choice of rental housing, it would be a good idea to read the comments of OLX.uz website users under the ad. Or, if this is a different site, you can check the rating of the landlord or agency (depending on the technical capabilities of the web resource for your search). This, in particular, will help ensure the authenticity and guarantee of the offer that interests you.

Meeting with the advertiser. You should be wary of such things as the advertiser’s refusal to show the property at your request, provide you with documents for ownership of the property or permission to rent out the property. Also, such facts as the advertiser’s constant postponement of the meeting to get acquainted with the conditions of your future residence, the appointment of a meeting place (dubious location - deserted places or not related to the geolocation of a rented apartment) should be called into question.

Requests for advance payment or provision of your personal data. Be wary of asking or offering to pay upfront before you've even toured the apartment or signed a formal lease.

Requests to promptly finalize the deal. Signing questionable contracts or agreeing to terms that may be changed to your detriment. As well as the preliminary signing of a document that supposedly guarantees the advertiser your consent to his offer. It is better to complete the transaction in the presence of a specialist (lawyer, notary).

Actions to take when a suspicious ad is detected

React quickly and adequately when you detect suspicious advertisements for apartment rentals on websites to protect yourself and other users from possible risks and deception.

Contact the site administration. Report the detected suspicious ad to the site administration and the web resource support service. This will help admins take action against fraudulent ads and protect other users.

Use the report function. Many online platforms have an active function to send a complaint about an ad or advertiser.

Inform the authorities. If you clearly suspect fraud or criminal activity, you can contact the appropriate organizations - law enforcement agencies, consumer protection societies and others. If you encounter fraud when renting or purchasing real estate on the olx.uz website, you can file complaints using the link https://help.olx.uz/olxuzhelp/s/.

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