Students who are looking for accommodation for the coming academic year should be aware of bogus letting agents, the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PRSA) has warned.
The statutory body with responsibility for licensing and regulating the property services sector in Ireland pursues reports of unlicensed activity with a view to prosecuting or seeking a High Court injunction against any bogus agent.
The Authority has previously received reports of fake letting agents targeting students at this time of year and advises them to be aware of the risk of bogus letting agents attempting to extract financial payments from prospective tenants. Such bogus agents often set up online and, in some instances, they may claim to have a valid PRSA license number.
“Students starting and returning to college need to be vigilant of bogus letting agents when searching for accommodation,” says Ms Maeve Hogan, CEO of the PRSA.
“A key action that students should take to help safeguard themselves against rental scams is to check that the letting agent they are using is licensed.”
All Letting Agents, Auctioneers, Estate Agents and Management Agents operating in the Republic of Ireland must hold a PSRA licence to provide a property service. The PSRA regulates all licensed Property Services Providers and ensure that the consumer is protected.
When using such a provider in their search for accommodation, students should ask to see the Property Service Provider’s licence and note the details, in particular the licence number, says the PRSA.
The individual licence is a credit card sized licence, which contains the licensee’s name, photographic identification and a unique 6 or 12 digit PSRA licence number, which always begins with two zeros. This licence number can be checked on the PRSA Register of Licensed Property Services Providers at psr.ie to ensure that the licence is not only valid and in date, but that the provider’s details match those on the register.
“Using a licensed agent provides consumer protection and if something does go wrong, a client may be entitled to compensation from the PSRA compensation fund,” says Ms Hogan.
It is illegal for a Property Service Provider to be unlicensed and do not provide any consumer protection.
The PSRA was established on 3rd April 2012 pursuant to the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 and is chaired by Mr. Michael Quinlan. The Board comprises of members from within the property services sector, consumer interest representatives and an officer of the Minister.
If you are in any doubt as to whether a letting agent is licensed, you can contact the PSRA on 046 9033800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are aware of unlicensed operators you are urged to contact the PRSA by email at the above address.