Suspicious offer?

Hi! I recently came upon a great listing for a one bed flat in Paddington – rent per month was initially around 1,650 under at least a 12 month lease. Note the listing was made by a user who’s been registered in Openrent for over 5 years and has approx. 90 listings.

I requested a viewing and got a call from a UK number – the person speaking was a man claiming to be a semi-retired letting agent retired in Cornwall, who works with the person that posted the ad and apparently knows the owner of the property for decades. A viewing was promptly arranged with this man’s son. Property is unfurnished and it is in good condition.

Soon afterwards, I confirmed my interest via phone call and was asked to pay a holding deposit – the remaining moving in monies (2 months of rent, no deposit, no referencing) would be paid 2 days before I move in. In this phone call, an unsolicited discount on rent was given (now 1,600), I was informed that the owner of the property lives in Greece and that apparently they’ve known each other for decades. It’s worth mentioning that all amounts are required to be paid by this agent outside of Openrent directly into a bank account of his – he claims only the holding deposit and 2 months of rent are transferred to him and the remaining monthly amounts would be directly paid to the owner of the property.

Bank details do correspond with the name of this agent, and I’ve had a look at the land registry and it is indeed owned by a person who lives in Greece (even in the specific town the agent mentioned); I’ve had a couple calls with the agent and he seems legit (no social media presence at all of him or his son– he’s in his 60’s).

I’m not sure if I’m being paranoid but I don’t necessarily feel at ease. Do you think this is a scam? What else could/should I do to be careful?

Thank you!

I would suggest you ask for evidence of permission to let the flat/act as an agent before transferring any money. This could potentially be a scam. If you saw the property on Rightmove then there is a better chance its legit as they ask for such evidence before accepting it.

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