The international student encounter rental scam after returning to Australia


Rental House.
Rental House. Photo by Jose Alonso on Unsplash

The girl made five phone calls to the landlord and no one answered, and she realized that she was cheated. Emily Liu is a girl who returned to Australia and suffered renting scam.

On the 28th of January, a week before the start of the Australian university, China Study Abroad Service Center issued a notice announcing that it would no longer recognize degree certificates obtained from online learning.

Therefore, according to ABC NEWS,  more than 40,000 Chinese students will return to Australia to take offline courses. The supply of houses in Australia will be in short supply, so house prices have risen as a result.

According to CoreLogic, Sydney rental prices are up 12.6 % year-on-year. The average rental price for all dwellings has risen to $699, and the average price of a house has even risen to $747.

The photo shows an Australian rent.
Australia rent table. Screenshot from CoreLogic

“After learning of the policy change, I hurriedly booked a flight back to Sydney. However, It is difficult to rent a house because time is too urgent, and housing prices in Sydney have been soaring,” Emily said.

“The price of two bedrooms and two bathrooms even soared to 1,800 Australian dollars a week, which is too expensive.”

@Twitter: Snow Leopard Financial Group: Sydney is the most expensive city to rent.

@Twitter:RxBBIE in their melancholy era: Consider selling organs to afford rent.

Hence, Emily started to look for cheap listings on Redbook, a Chinese social platform and found a 2b2b house close to the school with only 1,000 dollars a week. She felt that there were few high-quality houses at low prices, so she quickly contacted the landlord.

Emily said that the landlord is Chinese and a student, and she was preparing to graduate, so the house needed to be sublet.

“She answered our questions in detail and felt reliable, and she said that many people want to rent her house after reading her post. If we are sincere, she can rent it to us first,” Emily said.

“I discussed it with my roommate and we thought it was pretty good, so we decided to rent it as soon as possible. However, the landlord said that we cannot inspect the house now because she is out of town and will not return to Sydney until February.”

It means that Emily would not be able to see the house until the landlord returned to Sydney. She felt that it was strange.

However, they were anxious and just wanted to rent a house quickly, so they asked the landlord to provide a real estate certificate to prove that this house was her own house. If she took the money and disappeared, they could also use this document to report to the police.


We were cautious at first and learned a lot about renting a house in Xiaohongshu in advance. I remember that there was a post with a perfect house, close to the school, and the price was not so expensive, and then the person who posted it claimed to be a student. She was preparing to graduate, so the house needed to be sublet. We thought it was great, and we were afraid of missing out on a good property, so we contacted her in a hurry. And, Chatting with her, I felt that she is quite reliable, and the answers to our questions were also very detailed. She said that now many people want to rent a house after reading her post. If we are sincere, she can rent it to us first. But she said that we couldn’t see the house now, because she was outside, and she won’t return to Sydney until February. It means that we couldn’t see the house until February. We felt a little bit strange. But we were very anxious and only wanted to rent a house at that time. So we asked her if there was anything she could give us as a guarantee that we wouldn’t worry about being scammed out of money. And she gave us rea al estate certificate.

After receiving the real estate certificate, Emily transferred 5,000 Australian dollars to the other party’s account. Emily was excited after transferring the money because she thought she would not have to worry about finding a house in Sydney.

At that time, Emily’s friends asked her if she signed the contract after transferring the money. If she did not sign it, it would have no legal effect.

However, when she went to ask the landlord about the contract, the landlord stopped replying to messages and even canceled the accounts on social software.

Emily realized she had been scammed by a scammer.

She said: “ I was helpless at the time, so I quickly contacted the bank to ask the bank to help me freeze the transferred money. Nevertheless, the bank said that the money had already been transferred to the other party’s account, and hence it could not freeze it.”

“When I arrived in Sydney, I immediately called the police. The police said they would try their best to help us catch it. However, no information has been obtained from the police yet,” Emily said.

“I think international students must raise their awareness of fraud prevention. Although it is difficult to rent a house in Sydney now, do not transfer money to people you have not seen online. I hope the government can formulate some policies against these scammers, and also protect the rights and interests of international students.”

Finally, with the help of her friends, Emily used Realestate, a rental software in Australia, to apply for a room that costs $700 a week and is half an hour away from school.

She said that hoping the government can help these “homeless” international students to provide accommodation. Although many people have not been cheated of money when looking for a house, they may not be as lucky as her and can rent a house. Many students are still living in hotels.

Video: Sydney’s rental market has gone from bad to worse. @7NEWS Australia

Landlords make money by letting tenants sleep in one room

The photo shows Jelly's pieces of luggage.
Jelly was going to move to the hotel. The photo was taken by Jelly

Jelly Xu is also a student who encountered scammers when she returned to Australia.

After she paid the rent online, she arrived at the house she was renting and found that other tenants in the bedroom had not checked out.

Jelly said: “I was dumbfounded when I got to that house, and I felt cheated. To earn money, these landlords tricked us into sharing a bedroom with others. I do not want to share a bed with others, so I have to leave.”

The landlord’s approach made her leave the house where she had paid a deposit to rent and temporarily lived in a hotel.

However, due to her signing a contract, if she wanted to leave early, she could only pay liquidated damages to the landlord, which is one month’s rent.

Jelly discussed the liquidated damages with the landlord because the landlord did not tell her in advance that the room was occupied by the other, so she only paid two weeks’ rent in the end.

Look for housing at a regular rental agency

Jessica Walker, a rental agent in Sydney, said that with the increase of overseas immigrants and international students, the rent price of houses in Australia has been rising. It means that there are not many low-priced vacancies left in Sydney now. Even if there is, it will be snatched up in seconds.

Hence, Jessica reminds all international students that if they see low-priced houses, they must verify whether the information is real and not be deceived.

The photo shows the renting website.
Rent a house on a regular renting website. Photo by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

“Although there is a shortage of housing resources, rental agencies will release some suitable housing prices for students from time to time,” she said.

“I suggest that people can spend more time with regular rental agencies, and try to find housing in regular rental agencies instead of being greedy for cheap.”


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