Rental property scams: How to avoid them

rental property
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Rental property scams in Thailand are on the rise. That’s my view from the number of incidents I’m hearing about.

The most common rental property scam appears to involve landlords retaining deposits at the end of a property rental, and using spurious reasons as an excuse to keep the cash.

If you believe you’re in the right then you should have no hesitation in involving the Royal Thai Police or the Office of the Board of Consumer Protection, but ensure you have all the required documentary evidence, including a copy of the original contract.

If you do need to involve Thai authorities it’s probably wise to have a trusted Thai friend or colleague with you to help with any language issues.

Many non-Thais think it’s not worth the hassle of chasing unreturned deposits, and many see it as a “cost” of living in Thailand, but the more this happens the more property landlords in Thailand will be tempted to try rental property scams in the future.

Here are some tips for you to help avoid potential rental property scams in Thailand.

  • Obtain and copy official, government-issued identification from anyone you’re dealing with, whether real estate agents, landlords and property managers.
  • Understand the legal aspects of your rental property contract. Some landlords will only issue Thai versions but you can request an English one. If there is anything you’re not happy with, question it. Most landlords are amicable; they just want you to rent their property and start earning returns.
  • This may be obvious, but ensure the person you’re signing a rental property contract with actually owns the property. This can be done tactfully, and you can even say that best-practice for renting property in Bangkok is to ask for evidence of ownership. Having this request declined should be seen as a red flag.
  • When it comes to all payments, make sure you get a receipt from a company or names person with an address. This might be difficult as some landlords will operate ‘under the radar’ and will not want to leave paper trails that could have tax implications. But if problems happen you need evidence of al payments.
  • Never send payments to anyone through PayPal, Western Union, etc, to someone you have not met. Rental payments using inter-bank transfers are common in Thailand.
  • In terms of the property rental itself, make sure you view your chosen unit at least three times, and at different times of the day and week. Do not accept what a landlord or real estate agent will tell you without checking it yourself, with your own eyes.
  • Never rent a property without seeing it. You’d be surprised how many foreigners will rent a property without actually seeing it. If you don’t know Bangkok I strongly suggest that you invest in a few nights in a hotel before viewing rental properties.
  • Ensure a full and proper inventory is taken before you sign any rental contract. Take your own photographs and keep them. These could become useful when any claims of damage or wear-and-tear are made against you.
  • Understand what you can, and cannot, do to the rental property. You may be allowed to make minor modifications, such as painting the walls, but be aware you will almost certainly need to paint them the original colours when the rental ends.

If you run into any issues with your property rental in Thailand do let me know. I am not a lawyer but I am happy to help in any way I can.

Andrew Batt
The author of this article is Andrew Batt, the founder and editor of Andrew has been writing about property and real estate issues in Thailand and Southeast Asia for more than 10 years. He has worked for PropertyGuru Group, DDproperty, Dot Property Group, Hipflat and AsiaRents. He has also produced content for leading Thailand property developers and real estate agencies.

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