Scams and Possible Safety Issues

Written by Ilia Ryzhenko, OPSA Student Host

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Source: Gemma‘s blog

Overview
Looking for apartments in Hong Kong is stressful: the rent is relatively high, and the best options, it seems, are already taken. However, every once in a while you will come across an advertisement that looks too good to be true. Affordable rent, a nice area, fully furnished rooms with a kitchen – is it all a dream? In this article, OPSA Student Hosts would like to remind you of the possible risks that you may encounter while looking for an accommodation in Hong Kong. However, we will merely cover the basic safety precautions needed, therefore, you are highly recommended to research the topic more thoroughly yourself.

Scams
There are a lot of scammers in Hong Kong who target those who are looking for a budgeted apartment. They usually post attractive advertisements on social media platforms, inviting people who are eager to seek for apartments to rent in Hong Kong that promise a well-furnished, promising living area for a decent price. However, once you message them, their response may  contain some information regarding the owner of the flat not being able to see you in person. Sometimes, the scammers will go as far as to say that they would like to have the deposit for the apartment in exchange for the keys, all while not being present. There are many more fishing techniques that scammers use, such as:

  • They may accept cash as payment.
  • Suggesting to meet a previously unmentioned third party to pass on the deposit.
  • Refusing an in-person viewing of the apartment before payment is made.
  • Asking you to refrain from disclosing any information regarding your payment or agreement

When you are making an agreement, you should ask for all the necessary proof of ownership and agreement-related paperwork, if issues arise, treat this with suspicion.

Safety issues
Unless you are fully sure about the trustworthiness of the owner of the apartment (for example, it is a well-known student apartment or hostel), you should try to visit the accommodation first-hand before you rent it. It is recommended that you visit the apartment twice at different times of the day (or even different weather conditions). Make sure to ask the owner of the apartment all the questions that you find important. Here are some questions that you may ask:

  • Are there any noise issues in the apartment (e.g. flat is located near a railway station)?
  • What is the state of the tubes and canalization (how is the plumbing maintained)?
  • Are there issues with the water flow or temperature?
  • Are there any potential health hazards (mold, chemicals, etc.)?
  • Who are the neighbours?

OPSA Student Hosts will continue to introduce to you all sorts of advantages of living in different districts in Hong Kong. Tips and tricks about living in Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin, Sham Shui Po, Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei, Fanling, Sheung Shui and Yuen Long are available at OPSA website. Please stay tuned with us!

You are also welcome to contribute your ideas and let us know your needs. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with us by email.

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference only. In case of doubt, please refer to the relevant laws or seek advice from licensed real estate agents.