With an influx of university students and an apparent drop in the vacancy rate, the rental housing market is ripe for scam artists and unscrupulous landlords.
Yet student union president Dylan Robinson says local students and landlords alike are better assured of success if they use the TRUSU off-campus housing registry rather than online classified services such as Craigslist or Kijiji.
“Housing is pretty tight here in Kamloops and it’s really hard for students to find,” Robinson said. “We have a serious shortage of rental housing here in Kamloops.”
When the supply is low, renters feel the squeeze and can be more vulnerable to rip-offs.
Earlier this week, a Kamloops homeowner was shocked to find that her house was fraudulently posted on Kijiji as a rental. She only learned of the scam when a woman showed up at her door, believing that she had wired a $450 deposit to the proper owner. It turned out that the man who posted the ad lives in Africa.
“That’s a factor of how tight the rental situation is,” Robinson said. “The vast majority of people who rent to students are really outstanding people who are good landlords.”
Renters should never pay a deposit sight unseen and without first meeting the landlord or manager to confirm their legitimacy, he noted.
“And they should take advantage of the housing registry,” he said. “It’s a really robust online system that’s safe and secure.”
There is no current data on rental vacancy rates in Kamloops, but the CMHC spring report indicated the rate stood at 3.4 per cent, lower than in 2012, indicating renters had a tougher time finding accommodation.
The local rate is about the same as the vacancy rate in Vancouver and Victoria, but higher than Prince George’s 2.6 per cent.