A common rental scam occurs when a person impersonating a landlord lists a fake property. Their goal is to get an unsuspecting applicant to send or wire a deposit or first month’s rent. Once the money is sent, the landlord disappears.
There are clear signs and signals that reveal a scam; here is what to look for:
- Pictures: The online advertisement can be very well done, complete with pictures and all the listing details. But a lot of the times, the pictures are taken from another listing. If you see the place pictured twice, get suspicious.
- Rental Price: The scammers get people excited by offering below market prices. Excited by not wanting to ‘lose’ a great deal, applicants tend to be more willing to send a deposit to secure a place. Don’t! Below market rates often are too good to be true.
- Missing Property Address: Scammers won’t list the property address so that potential applicants can’t drive by and verify the property. A professional landlord or agent will provide the address.
- Excuses and Promises: Scammers are full of excuses and promises as to why the property can’t be viewed but will follow with promises and a sense of urgency. Out-of-town, occupied, and no-show policies are common excuses.
- Disappearing Act: Scammers will stop replying to your emails and phone calls if you ask too many questions. Remember, they are playing a numbers game. If you are taking too much of their time, they’ll simply focus on the next potential victim.
- Research: If you can’t find independently find the property management company, there is a reason why.
Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. A credible landlord will be accessible, responsive, and will never request money until a property has been shown and a lease is being signed.