Scammers can access it in several ways. They usually create ads on social media platforms that are not geared towards real estate. The only thing that does not change is that this practice harms landlords and potential tenants.
From the perspective of the defrauded tenant, this can be shattering. These victims tend to be people who cannot absorb the loss. They usually have limited funds and less than perfect credit. Although we never thought it could happen to us, we are all vulnerable to scammers.
Fortunately, there are ways to protect ourselves from simplistic to rather sophisticated staff, even when things are virtually happening in these pandemic times. The question is, how will you know if it is a legitimate rental or a rental scam?
COMMON RENTAL SCAMS
- COPIED LISTING
Have you ever experienced a rental site and seen an ad that looks perfect, maybe too good to be true? Scam ads often look like real news. One of the crooks’ favorite hobbies is copying actual offers and changing contact details and prices. This post is probably hidden by a con artist waiting to take advantage of your enthusiasm.
Before letting those interesting viewing of actual unit, they will first request a deposit or the first month’s rent. They can also refuse to visit you virtually through the unit without payment first.
- CHARGING EXTRA FOR BACKGROUND CHECKS
It is common for landlords to do background checks on all tenants before moving in. Homeowners need to be sure that the people they agree with are exactly who they say they are. While landlords often perform background and credit checks on potential tenants and pass those costs on to the tenant, a common scam is for less scrupulous landlords to inflate the prices for these services.
Some crooks, however, will charge an excessive amount of money, claiming that is the amount they need from you to cover the cost of a background check. Keep in mind that the rental application fee will include the background check price.
- PROPERTY IS TOO CHEAP
As tenants, we need to check the value of the property. Everyone wants a proper and a good deal. Beware that something must be wrong if a property is far below the market value.
Usually, the rental scammers often advertise a property at low prices to attract and encourage interested potential tenants. Then they will pressure and force the tenants to post a deposit and rent the first month to secure the property.
- NO LEASE SIGNING
Some scammers will ask you to rent an apartment or unit without signing any papers. Scammers and shady landlords will ask potential tenants to rent a property without signing any documents.
This pandemic, this rental scam is likely to become more common as many tenants move towards virtual apartment tours, remote lease signing, and limiting interactions with landlords and managers of real estate. When you request the rental agreement, the landlord will come up with an excuse for why they can’t or won’t use one, in case you know it is a scam.
They use this technique to avoid identity tracking, and slum owners use it to circumvent taxes and housing laws for tenant safety. A reminder, do some background checks about additional owner background checks to check criminal background, property liens, and foreclosures.
Now, if you are asked to rent without a lease, the agreement is likely to be bogus, or the landlord may have a history of wrongdoing.
- NO IN-PERSON SHOWING
When the owner says they can’t meet you because of sickness or lack of time due to family issues or emergencies, he’s out of the country or detained in another way but still wants a deposit to secure the apartment. It is likely a scam.
Scammers will use many excuses to hide your identity: military service, work reasons for being out of town, illness, etc. Usually, they will hire someone you meet most of the time to gain your trust. Regardless of where they live, a legitimate owner or property manager will be ready to meet you and show you inside the unit.
Any potential scammer will avoid showing you the place and prevent any kind of interaction daily, including property viewing and signing of the lease, which a lawful landlord generally prefers, and landlords who refuse to show a property often hide serious maintenance dangers or structural problems with the property.
FIVE THINGS ON HOW TO AVOID RENTAL SCAMS
Let’s face the reality that this world is subject to so many scammers. It happens most of the time, and we know it’s a big deal. Our rental experience could turn into an absolute disaster if we are not ready to step into this business; that is why having basic knowledge about scammers and their techniques are necessary for anyone who wants to be successful in renting an apartment without having to deal with scammers and their tricky schemes.
Follow the acronym of SCAAM to avoid rental scammers.
S-EARCH THE ADDRESS LISTED ON RENTAL SITES
This is for verification purposes. You need to know if the address that was posted online is accurate. Always make sure that it exists, and it is better if it has reviews.
C-RIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK
It is also essential to check the owner’s background profile to know if they were involved before in any kind of crime. From this, you’ll be able to understand what kind of person you’re going to deal with, and if they have the worst criminal record, it is better to find another landlord for your peace of mind. For clarification, we’re not imposing discrimination here. We just want to assure not just every tenants’ safety but also their mental health.
A-LWAYS SIGN A WRITTEN LEASE
Make sure a lease is presented. You should consider the only form of contract in writing, even if the owner is someone you know personally and trust. The reason for avoiding verbal agreements is simple. Although it is legally allowed in many states, working in disputes or disagreements is challenging.
A-SK ABOUT THE COST OF UTILITIES
By asking about the cost of utilities, you’ll determine how the owner fully knows their apartment. You can now assess things by simply asking about the house’s utilities.
M– EET THE LANDLORD
Schedule a date, time, and place where you and the landlord can meet to deal with things personally. It is one way to know more about the owner and have a good and smooth transaction.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU EXPERIENCE BEING SCAMMED?
The scammer who took away your money is probably far away and perhaps has taken steps to ensure that they cannot be tracked when paid. However, you still need to report this kind of activity, and here are some ways you can do it.
- Contact your local authorities.
- Contact the listing websites.
- Please report immediately to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- Take care when apartment hunting.
- File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
Let us know if anyone can become a victim of a scam. However, if we invest a little effort in learning more about renting an apartment of approximate capacity scams, the risk of at least one prey falling becomes considerably less.