How to avoid falling for rental scams

Avoid rental scams

February 2024 - 3 min read

As a tenant looking to rent a room or apartment urgently, it feels like a dream come true when you finally find an online listing that fits your needs, budget and desired location.

A person claiming to be a real estate salesperson (RES) responds to your query via WhatsApp, says the property is available right now and urge you to make a decision soon as the property is on a “first come, first served” basis.

The only catch to secure the renting of the property is that you must pay a few months of rent in advance or you will lose the opportunity as “there are other people waiting to rent”. You feel the pressure of missing out, and so you pay as requested.

Suddenly the RES stops responding. No more calls, no more contact. 

Finally, you realise that the RES was an impersonator and you have been scammed!

Scam variants

The above scenario is just one of several ways in which scammers carry out their dirty tricks.

They may pretend to be a property owner or landlord, or even impersonate an actual RES and put up fake property listings on social media channels. 

They will then pressure prospective tenants into making a deposit to view the property, or even paying the rent in advance to ‘secure’ the property, before disappearing for good.

What you can do

If you are seeking to rent a room or apartment, follow these tips to help you avoid falling victim to a rental scam.

  • Before dealing with anyone claiming to be an RES, always verify the identity of the person by searching the advertised phone number against CEA’s Public Register. If the search does not result in a name of an CEA-registered RES being shown, then it is very likely that the person who put up the listing is a non-RES and you should stop dealing with him or her.
  • Visit the properties in person, with the CEA-registered RES managing the rental of the property if possible. You do not need to pay to view a property.
  • If you have to make payment, you should pay the property owner directly, using verifiable payment modes such as crossed cheques and bank transfers.

Stay informed


To stay ahead of evolving scams, here are some online resource pages you can visit to stay informed:



Information accurate as at 8 February 2024

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