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Safety and security

People have been renting out rooms in their homes for centuries – and the vast majority of time it has been successful. We would be dishonest to say that it is 100% safe. However it is natural to have concerns when opening your home to a stranger. Or if you're renting a room, you're required to put your trust in a stranger.

TheRoomLink's profiles, gives detailed information that will give you a good idea whether it is a suitable landlord-renter match, and could show up when something seems wrong.

IMPORTANT: keep personal information safe

Please do not provide personal information such as your bank account details, credit card etc to avoid misuse of your personal information.

Safety for homeowners, landlords and house-sharers

One of the biggest concerns is whether it is safe to open your home to a stranger. I think we need to remember, people have been renting out rooms in their houses for years. But the important thing is to minimise your risks as much as possible. Keep yourself safe.

Here are TheRoomLink’s tips on how to keep yourself safe:

  • Take your time. Speak on the phone before meeting at the house. Trust your instincts. Often this sends out the best warning signs. You don’t have to take the first caller – or make your mind up immediately after one meeting.
  • Do viewings in the day time – Wherever possible, try to arrange viewings during daylight hours or over the weekend.
  • Don’t go it alone – Ask a friend or family member to be around during viewings, especially if you're single. There is safety in numbers.
  • Get references. You should always try and get previous landlord, employer, bank and personal references.
  • Check out the prospective renter online. If he/she is a professional commuting during the week you may ask them to connect on LinkedIn. Otherwise, Google them – see if anything comes up! Read any reviews you can find about them.
  • Take deposits. Take at least one month’s rent upfront, to be held as a deposit.
  • Sign a contract. Protect your rights and your property by signing a contract. You can email Lisa@TheRoomLink.com for a contract template.
  • Be wary of anyone willing to overpay you. Even though most people are honest, there are scammers out there who may overpay by cheque and then demand a refund. And then guess what? The cheque bounces!

Safety for renters

It is not only homeowners or landlords at risk. Renters need to ensure that they keep themselves safe too.

Here are TheRoomLink’s tips on how to keep yourself safe if you're a renter:

  • Ask for a reference: It is not only landlords or homeowners who can ask for references. Feel free to ask for testimonials from previous renters or tenants.
  • Take your time. Speak on the phone before meeting them at the house. Trust your gut instincts. Often this sends out the best warning signs. You don't have to take the first room you see – or make your mind up immediately after one meeting. It is going to be your home so make sure you feel comfortable.
  • Take along a friend – try to take along a friend or family member to all viewings. There is safety in numbers!
  • Do viewings in the day – wherever possible, try to view rooms during the day, or over the weekend. However, you might want to visit the area at night – just to see it in all possible scenarios.
  • Check out the landlord online – Google them. See if anything comes up. People are very quick to complain if something is seriously amiss.
  • No deposit without seeing the room. Even though most people are honest, there are scammers out there who may ask for a deposit on a room that does not exist. See the room before you pay any deposit.
  • Get a receipt. Ask for a receipt for your deposit. If you don't receive a receipt, send an email that confirms that you paid a deposit, the date paid and the amount paid.
  • Feeling threatened. If you feel threatened or uneasy during a viewing, make an excuse that you need to get something from your car and get out of there! Your safety is important.
  • Beware of paying registration fees to unknown parties. There are a number of unscrupulous and dodgy individuals who make you pay a registration fee with the promise to provide you with a room. They often don’t deliver.

If there is something seriously wrong, please report it to TheRoomLink's so that we can contact the advertiser and keep our records up-to-date – all listings should be reliable and a reflection of the true facts.

We don't want to scare you off, because most people enjoy the experience and the positives are very strong. But the reality is that in South Africa you need to do a little more to keep yourself safe. And at the TheRoomLink, your safety is very important to us.