Don’t Fall Victim to Rental Scams
It’s a scary scenario that plays out multiple times a day across the country. Eager renters sign a new lease for a place of their own, only to show up to the space to find it’s not really theirs and never was. They’ve become yet another victim of a rental scam. And now, not only are they left without a place to live, but more than likely they are out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
This might sound too cruel to be true, but, unfortunately, it happens all too often.
So, how do you avoid becoming a target of these housing cons? Keep reading to discover the red flags you should be on the lookout for when searching for your next rental.
Trust Your Instincts
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Think you found the deal of a lifetime on an incredible place that’s renting for a fraction of what similar properties in the area are? What you’ve probably stumbled across is a scam. The “property owner,” or scammer, may try to get cash or personal information from you such as your social security or credit card number under the guise of placing a hold on the property for you.
Property Details Seem Vague
Rental descriptions should point out the best features of a property if the goal is to get rented. If the details seem limited or don’t make sense, it can be a surefire sign of a scam.
The same goes for if you sense something is off when the supposed owner or agent is showing you around the rental but seems unable to provide much detail about the property. In this scam scenario, the con artist may have obtained access to the rental through illegal measures like stealing a key or breaking into the property. Then, of course, they collect your deposits and are never heard from again.
One way to avoid this is to perform a simple person search to ensure the person you’ve been in contact with is the actual owner or property manager. A public records search should reveal who the property belongs to, and if the names don’t match up, call the legitimate owner listed to get more information.
You’re Asked to Act Before Seeing the Property
Nothing should be done before you’ve viewed the property. If the owner or agent asks you to sign a lease or send money before seeing the space, you should be suspicious. And no, photos don’t count. You need to physically visit the place you are thinking of renting. Popular rental listing site Craigslist says that by following this one rule, 99% of scam attempts can be avoided.
The checklist of things you should be looking for in a rental may be long, but add these warnings to it to ensure you keep your peace of mind and your money. By taking advantage of a resource like an online person search, you can arm yourself with the knowledge you need to avoid rental scams.