Keeping an Eye on Rental Scams: 5 Signs & How to Avoid Them
What is a Rental Scam?
Rental scams are schemes where someone attempts to defraud you of money under the guise of offering you a rental. The scam can be orchestrated in various ways, although the consistent theme is that a person posing as a legitimate landlord or property agent attempts to get you to sign a lease and send money. In reality, there is no rental due, or the person who has leased you the apartment does not own it or have the right to lease it to begin with.
Continue to read to find 5 signs of a rental scam and how to avoid them.
5 Signs of a Rental Scam
The following that will be discussed are signs of a scam by a rental listing or agent.
1. Rental Pictures are Too Good to Be True
Everyone has run into a property ad at some point that displays a beautifully renovated rental at a price that appears well below the current standing market average. If a listing looks too good for the price, it likely is. Always make sure to ask to see the property before signing a lease or paying a deposit.
2. Rental Listing Shows Errors
Listings that showcase grammatical errors and other formatting errors might be created by a scammer. USA.gov advises to look for inconsistencies in the text of rental ads, for the overuse of uppercase letters, because these are red flags of housing scams.
3. You are Pressured to Lease Right Away
A legitimate landlord or rental agent will be more accommodating when you request to see a space before renting it with your hard-earned money. If an agent is pressing you to sign a contract without seeing the rental, that should raise some red flags for you. The agent may not wish to meet with you because the property in question is not actually for rent, or they don't have the authority to rent it out.
4. You Are Asked for Money Upfront
A landlord or representative working for the property owner should not be charging you a fee to tour a property. If there is a fee, someone could be attempting to charge you unfairly. A request to wire money is a major red flag of rental scams. Money sent through banking alternatives can be hard to reverse or trace, and that is why scammers use them as a payment method of choice.
5. There is No Credit Check Involved
Often, landlords and rental companies do a credit check before leasing a place to determine if a renter is creditworthy. Some places might not require a credit check, but you should be careful to vet the rental agent and ensure that they are not taking advantage of your need for housing by offering a fictitious home with lenient eligibility requirements.
How to Avoid a Rental Scam
Finding a new place to live is stressful enough, and you might be motivated to choose a place quickly to get situated as soon as possible. Taking the extra time to screen a rental can help to avoid getting swindled. Continue to read to find useful ways to avoid rental scams.
1. Request a Tour
Don't rent a home without seeing it in person first. Schedule a time to tour the place to make sure it exists and confirm it looks like the advertisement.
2. Skip Listings that Look Suspicious
Continue to scroll past and save your time on spam listings and be skeptical of listings that are priced below market for the area based on size and upgrades.
3. Ask to Speak to the Property Owner
People who pose as a representative of the owner could rent out a home without their permission. Asking to meet the property owner at the home could help you avoid a scam.
4. Don't Send Money
Avoid sending any money by wire, even if the landlord comes up with a story as to why they cannot handle the deal in person. If you are making a cross-country move, consider holding off on the house hunt until you arrive.