Scammers

Scammers exploit WA rental squeeze, leaving people homeless and out of pocket

PHOTO:  Varney has been forced to move in with her mother while she looks for a new rental property. (Supplied)

Two young mothers are among a growing number of people losing thousands of dollars to rental scams in WA, with regulators linking the rise to the end of the state’s rental moratorium almost two weeks ago.

The moratorium ended on March 29, leaving many renters without accommodation and allowing landlords to raise prices and evict tenants with far fewer restrictions than had been in place since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Consumer Protection WA said those fearful of the end of the moratorium were easy prey for scammers, with at least five West Australians left thousands of dollars out of pocket so far this year.

Among them is Varney, who lost $1,800 when she transferred money for what she believed was a bond payment for a property in Piara Waters.

She told ABC Radio Perth it was a bitter blow after spending about seven months looking for a rental.

Varney found the property at the beginning of April through Facebook Marketplace.

A cluster of houses at Alkimos Beach all with rooftop solar panels.
Demand for rental properties in many areas is outstripping supply. (ABC News: Briana Shepherd)

She said the person who created the listing told her they were out of the state, but she could visit the property and inspect it from the outside.

They claimed they would post the keys and lease agreement once the bond was paid.

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