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Deposits, Advance Payments, Bonds and Investment Schemes conmtinued
Money paid in advance can be risky

Everyone at some time will have repairs that require calling in a skilled worker. Electricians, plumbers and carpenters generally do a good job, when you can source them; but always ask for a receipt for your payments, and make sure that their work is guaranteed before they commence. The same applies to vehicle repairs and servicing which should have some kind of warranty covering parts and labour to rectify faults that occur within a specified time after the initial work was conducted. In this regard, unless you know and trust them, watch out for the backyard mechanics who are only cheaper if they complete the job to your satisfaction, and you don't have to take it elsewhere if they haven't done it properly.

When renting a property, whether it be residential or business premises, usually a bond is required up front. This is to safeguard the owner should the tenant cause damage to the property or fittings; and also to cover them for non-payment of rent, particularly if the one who signed the lease agreement decides to skip town. Conversely, when the resident decides to leave and has taken good care of the property as well as keeping up with the rent, it is only fair that their bond payment should be returned in full. It doesn't always happen. The owner or agent will inspect the property and if they find damage of any kind, part of or the entire bond will be withheld to cover this. Quite often the tenant might explain that the broken shower screen or chipped plaster and carpet stains were there when they moved in; but did they think to have proof of this? Before signing the lease, they should have inspected the property with a witness and taken photographs of all existing damage and faults. Any reputable letting agent would accept this as normal practice. Should they get grumpy or resentful about it, find another place to live.

One final warning about investment deals and proposals: They come in all shapes and sizes, and generally involve large sums of money. Rule of thumb - avoid putting your cash into anything that is sight unseen. Don't rely on flashy brochures picturing artist's impressions. If you can't go to the location and walk around, it might not exist. As for retirement schemes, one went pear-shaped in Australia a couple of years ago. Retirees lost thousands, in some instances their life's savings. The scheme required a considerable one-off up-front payment that should have seen them in a home for the rest of their lives - no rent, no maintenance costs, simply carefree. What happened? The management company that set it all up went bust. The actual residences were owned by others who had been sucked into the scam; but, it seemed, they were out of pocket, receiving no regular payments as presumably agreed. The residents were summarily evicted with no home and very little money left to start over again. As for the perpetrators of the scam, the huge amounts of money they'd been paid went walkabout. A class action undertaken by those who had been cheated goes on still.

There are many instances of cheats and scammers taking money under false pretences, and we have been warned to be on the lookout for them; yet there are those who continue to get caught. So, don't part with your money unless you are absolutely certain the deal is genuine and above board. Obtain receipts for deposits and advance payments. Read and understand the fine print of all agreements before signing. Never assume that you are fully protected by the law; because others may know it better than you, in particular the loopholes; and discovering this after the fact could be a financially painful lesson to learn.

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