It is not unheard of that crooks gain access to an empty house by breaking open locks, the next thing you know is an individual having lived in and paid rent on a house for months before discovering it was a rental scam and that the “landlord” didn’t own the house. Such rental cons are not only notorious in Nigeria, but also common tricks employed by Kenyan scammers which costs innocent victims a fortune.
As my husband recently also moved over to Kenya, we decided to rent a place of our own. The Kenyan house hunting experience has both been interesting and fascinating. Not only does local agents have almost no knowledge about the rental properties he/she is taking you to see until the moment you get onto their car, some may not even have enough money to pay for the $1 USD petrol fuel required for the car trip! If you had the time, it might even be a better idea to walk around the neighbourhood and find the apartment block of your choice – then you would give its security guard some “little something” so that when a flat becomes vacant, you will be next on the potential tenants list.
For us, we were blessed with the help of my real estate agent friend Ciku. In almost no time, we found a spacious apartment at a safe and convenient location at a reasonable price. As we were about to sign the contract, there was one suspicious request. The caretaker of the compound had requested an advance deposit cash payment (with an amount of 2 month’s rent) to be made in order to complete the small apartment fixes whilst the landlord was said to be away from the country. On the very same day, our agent encountered another interested person at the apartment who was also “about” to make the deposit payment. In light of the many possible rental scams faced by tenants, our agent insisted on paying directly to the landlord and stood firm to speaking directly to the house owner before any further discussions. Yet, the caretaker would not give way. Instead, then she offered our agent an additional cash payment as further commission in striking the deal for the property. In the end, our clever bona fide agent Ciku got in touch with the landlord through multiple encounters with the evening security guards and ultimately met the landlord’s niece at the property. Of course, the landlord was unhappy about the caretaker’s attempt in taking additional cash payments from his potential tenants. Unfortunately, such rental scams continue everywhere around the world – we were lucky that we were scam busters without having to learn the lesson the hard way!