Not everyone out there is as honest as we are. There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there that are hoping to take advantage of prospective tenants. Here are 10 tips on how to identify a rental scam. Apartment hunting is hard enough without having to worry about a scam artist.
Rental Scam Tip #1: Apartment Scammers pray on Tenants with Deadlines
If you are in a rush to get an apartment, this can make you more vulnerable to scam artists that pray on your desperation.
Rental Scam Tip#2: Watch for Super Cheap Rents
“If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.” Well that advice from your mom applies here too.
Rental Scam Tip#3: No Background Checks before a Showing
Scammers want your social security and credit card numbers before you even take a peek at the apartment – only to take your identity and run with it.
Rental Scam Tip#4: Deal with Your Landlord in Person
You can suspect a con job if you “landlord” or their “agent” wants you to send them your deposit and first-month’s payment and you have never met.
Rental Scam #5: Double-Check the Listing
Scammers often take legitimate listings and then re-post them with their contact information. A simple Google search can verify if that is the only ad out there.
Rental Scam #6: Who is the Legal Owner?
You assume that you are dealing with the legal owner, but are you really? Public records are mostly online these days and looking up who owns a property is free and only takes a few minutes.
Rental Scam #7: Is the Property Manager Legit?
Now the really low blow is the fake property manager that is “representing” the owner. We really hate those guys. But you can easily find the truth by checking to see if they work for a real local property management company – like us!
Rental Scam #8: Make Sure You See the Inside
Don’t fall for the lame excuse that the unit is being “rekeyed,” “painted,” or “being renovated.” Never rent an apartment or house sight-unseen or at least do not pay a single dime until you see inside.
Rental Scam #9: Is it Listed for Sale?
Another target for scammers is empty houses. They figure out how to gain entry and then “rent” out the unit. Once they get your deposit and first month’s rent, you never see them again but the police show up and accuse you of squatting. Bummer. Head over to Realtor.com and type in the address and see what comes up.
Rental Scam #10: Get a Written and Signed Lease
Scammers hate a paper trail, especially one that involves a legal agreement. Make sure the lease has the name, address and phone number of the landlord and that you watch them sign it. Post office boxes don’t count.
We do not want you to get taken advantage of in any way. If you want to feel secure that you are not being jacked by a rental scammer, then we recommend that you deal with a genuine and well known property management company. We would be happy to help you find the perfect rental.