We often get calls from users asking about security when using SpareRoom. As with any form of online dealing, it's always important to be careful when renting or letting a room. Here are some of the most regularly asked questions and our advice on how to stay safe when using SpareRoom.
Do you pre check advertisers?
SpareRoom is a classified listings website rather than a letting agency. We provide an advertising space which allows users to quickly place and view adverts and it would not be practical or user-friendly to reference check every advertiser on the site. We do, however, take the safety of our users very seriously and take various measures to prevent any scammers from advertising on the site or contacting other users. Please read on for details of what we do to protect you and how you can further protect yourself.
What we do to protect you
We have systems in place (both manual and automated) which pick up on the majority of attempted scams, preventing scammers from sending messages or placing adverts. This level of protection requires considerable time and money to maintain, SpareRoom is the only flatshare site devoting the staff hours and financial investment to protect users in this way.
Although the odd scam does slip through the net this is very rare and, as we educate our users, they will usually bring it to our attention immediately so that we can remove the offender and warn other users of their activities.
Only registered users are able to contact you through SpareRoom, making them subject to our various checks.
What you can do to keep yourself (and your money) safe
Be vigilant and use your common sense, if something seems too good to be true it usually is! You should exercise particular caution if:
- Anyone offers to take your room without viewing it first and asking reasonable questions. At the very least if you are going to be living with someone you should speak to them on the phone first.
- Someone wants to pay by cheque or bank transfer and says that they have overpaid for whatever reason. NEVER send any money back to them via Western Union or other money transfer. This is known as the overpayment scam, and their initial payment will bounce out of your bank account even after is has first 'cleared' as the cheque they sent you will be fake or stolen.
Although it is important to remember that the vast majority of people are honest, it is also important to be aware of your personal safety. You should follow a few basic rules to avoid potentially unsafe situations when showing people around your home.
- Try to get a work or other landline number from them that you can call them on to confirm the viewing (and satisfy yourself that they do work at that company).
- Make sure you have their full name. Let a friend know what time you are expecting them and what time you expect the viewing to be finished (and tell them that you will call around that time). If you have not called, ask that they give you 5 minutes and then call you. As we say, the vast majority of people are honest and you should not be paranoid, just take sensible safety precautions.
- When conducting viewings don't leave any sensitive documents (such as bank statements or utility bills) lying around. This also applies to credit cards and passports. Documents of this kind are extremely useful to anyone involved in ID fraud so be sensible and put them somewhere out of sight.
- Once you have found a suitable tenant we would always advise that you check their references and offer the room dependent on satisfactory results. References taken can range from a simple credit check to a full comprehensive check including previous landlord and professional references to assess suitability as a tenant. We provide a comprehensive Tenant Referencing Service that you can trust.
- Always have an agreement in writing between you and your tenant. This will protect you both and help avoid any misunderstandings.
Don't be scared. By exercising a little caution you will vastly reduce the risk of anything untoward happening to you. The vast majority of SpareRoom transactions are safe and secure because we invest time, money and staff hours into making sure they are. Good luck renting out your room!