Rental Listing Scams happen more often than we’d like to think about. The world is at our fingertips on the internet, and scammers will use this to their advantage. Scammers know that finding the right apartment or home is hard work, and that good deals may be hard to pass up!
Whether you are moving to a new city or just shopping around for a new home, you will be considering the costs associated and the location of the property. Also, consider that the listing that you may be viewing could be a scam.
How To Spot Rental Scams
They want a security deposit or rent paid before you’ve met or signed any documents
Our world has changed a lot over the last few years. It is not uncommon to do business strictly over the phone or through email these days. If you are out of town or unable to do a drive-by of the rental listing, ask someone you trust to view the home and ensure it matches the listing. In addition, at the very least, set up a virtual meeting to meet the owner or property manager.
The advertised price is much lower than comparable properties in the area
One of the surefire ways to spot a scam is that the price will be significantly lower than other homes for rent in the area. Scammers know that in today’s world, everyone is seeking out a good deal. Do some research on the surrounding areas and the average rental cost.
There is a charge to view the home
A property manager, property owner, or agent will never charge you to view a home. There are instances where a management team could vet the potential residents prior to viewing a home with a few questions to ensure that they are qualified residents. This protects the listing parties from scams as well.
The owner or agent uses very high-pressure sales tactics and pushes you to rent the property right away
The rental market is very competitive today. But, not so competitive that you should ever feel pressured to sign a lease without the ability to view the home whether virtually or in person. Listing agents understand that the market has shifted and rentals go quickly. Agents also understand that future residents are entitled to viewing a home prior to signing any documentation or paying anything.
They hijack ads
Scammers are sneaky. Another tactic used may be that they will find a legitimate real estate listing and change the email address or other contact information. The altered ad could include the correct name of the listing agent, but with incorrect contact information. Scammers have even gone as far as hijacking the correct email addresses on rental sites.
They tell you that you have to wire money
The most certain way to tell a rental scam is that the listing requires you to wire money. Wiring money is the same as sending cash, and once you send it, there is usually no way to get it back. Property owners, managers, and agents are typically flexible in how they will accept funds for security deposits, fees, first month’s rent, etc. Scammers will only accept wire-transferred funds.
How to avoid rental scams
- Get the terms of the rental in writing, including fees, rent, and maintenance.
- Do some homework on the owner, property management company, and listing. If the names are different, or there is no contact information, this is likely a scam.
- Ask to view a copy of the lease that is to be signed by the property manager and/or owner.
- Check out other listings in the area and see how they are worded and how the photos look. If there are big discrepancies, this is a red flag.
Rental Scams are a huge deal. Don’t feel bad if you fell for one, it can happen to anyone! Stopping scammers is so important and there are many resources available. The Federal Trade Commission asks that you report any scams to them at ReportFraud.ftc.gov
You never have to worry about being scammed here at RentWise Property Management. Honesty, Integrity, and Transparency are our core values. We build great relationships with all of our property owners and our residents to ensure that everyone is having the best experience. To learn more about how we do business, visit us at rentwisepm.com/rentwise-property-management/