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Home > Housing > Homelessness advice > Housing advice

Housing advice

Stay Safe

Looking for a new place to rent can be an exciting time for many of us, with thousands of rooms and properties listed every day in the UK. With so much demand for these rentals, you should always remember to stay safe.

A property rental scam using the Western Union service is scamming thousands of people each year, luring its innocent victims to send hundreds of pounds to cover deposits and rent. Then to find the property never existed.


The Western Union scam works like this:

  1. A property is advertised that looks ideal, at a great price and in most cases will have showroom photos
  2. You contact them to arrange a viewing
  3. They say they can’t make the viewing but have others interested
  4. They go on to explain how they have had their time wasted in the past with failed viewings
  5. They then ask you to prove you have the money and ask you to transfer 1 month’s rent and deposit to any of your family members or a friend via the Western Union service
  6. They then ask you to scan & send a copy of the Western Union transaction receipt as proof of the transaction, saying once this is done they can meet you for a viewing
  7. The scammer then uses this receipt to access your funds leaving you scammed out of hundreds of pounds and stops all communications

To avoid this happening to you remember:

  • If something doesn’t feel right, end communication
  • If something sounds too good to be true it normally is
  • Always view the property first
  • Always sign the tenancy agreement when handing over any money

Western Union is a service for transferring money between you and someone you know but give that unique receipt reference number to someone else and your money’s gone for good. 



Shelter is a national organisation with local solutions working to improve the lives of homeless and badly housed people. They provide free, professional and independent advice to over 100,000 people each year throughout England and Scotland.

Shelter has three main aims:

  • To prevent and alleviate homelessness by providing information, advice and advocacy for people with housing problems
  • To pilot innovative schemes which will provide new solutions for homelessness and housing problems
  • To campaign for lasting changes to housing policy practice

Whatever your housing problem, Shelter can help by:

  • telling you about your rights
  • explaining what options you have
  • helping you take action

Contact Shelterline on 0808 800 4444 - Britain's first 24 hour, free national housing helpline providing advice to anyone with a housing problem.