Looking for a decent rental is often a tiring and challenging process on its own. From the struggles of finding something close to your dream property to scouring numerous rental listings in your preferred area, there’s so much work involved in the apartment-hunting journey. The last thing you want is to find yourself caught up in rental scams!
Yes, they do exist, and many people fall victim to these scams.
There are so many scam artists out there that take undue advantage of prospective tenants and benefit from their vulnerability.
But the bigger problem here is how do you distinguish between a legitimate rental and a scam?
Why Have Rental Scams Become So Common?
Online listings are one of the biggest reasons for rental scams, especially given the current pandemic going on, due to which everything is taking place virtually.
There’s no way to tell if the apartment listing that caught your eye online is real or fake.
Another reason behind rental scams is the volatile housing market, which makes it very easy for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting tenants.
Lastly, scammers tend to target those people or tenants who are in a time crunch and don’t have any time to spare. This provides the ideal opportunity to scam artists to take advantage of their desperation to find a new apartment and end up scamming them.
Common Rental Scams that You Should Be Aware Of
Fortunately, though, there’s a pattern when it comes to rental scams. This has made it easy for apartment hunters to lower the risk of getting scammed at the hands of rental scammers.
We’ve rounded up some of the most common rental scams that you should be aware of in order to stay safe and protect yourself.
Fake or Copied Listings
Have you ever come across two similar apartment listings with almost-same details, except with maybe different contact information? Or that you went on an online rental site and saw a listing that sounded way too good to be true?
Well, the chances are that it was probably copied or fake where scammers copy the details from another actual, real listing and made it their own. What they do is they change a few details in the information here and there and then probably ask you to pay a certain deposit amount in order to reserve the apartment.
If you ask them to show you the apartment and give you a tour, they are likely to refuse before you pay the deposit. That’s the ultimate cue or hint that the apartment listing is fake or copied.
The Price of the Property Is Too Cheap
Imagine coming across a listing for a house or an apartment of your dreams on a rental site with literally every amenity that you imagined but at a surprisingly low price.
While we all love a good deal, especially when it comes to houses and apartments, isn’t it a little suspicious if the price mentioned is way below the market value?
This is quite a common practice among rental scammers where they list a property at too low a price to target prospective tenants. And then they tend to pressure the interested tenants into paying the deposit along with rent for the first month to hold the property.
Again, this is a common tactic and a clear sign that you are in for a rental scam.
The Landlord Refuses To Show You the Apartment without Payment
So you found a great apartment online and are way too eager to rent it, and you ask the landlord to give you a tour of the property. They refuse to do so before any kind of payment from your end.
That’s classic scammer behavior because who pays money for a rental before even looking at it or visiting it in person?
If the person that posted the listing demands payment before you lease the apartment, you should be highly alert. Don’t ever rely on virtual photos or details, and make sure that you visit the place which you are thinking of renting.
Most scam attempts happen because sometimes people fall victim to the online trap, so be aware at all times.
The Bait-and-Switch Tactic
In other words, offering one thing, but selling something completely different.
The bait-and-switch is one the most common rental scams in which the scam artist lists a very attractive apartment on a rental site in order to tempt potential tenants and sells some other apartment to them when it’s time to finalize the deal.
A clever strategy that they use here is when you go to visit the said apartment, it suddenly becomes unavailable, and then they show you an alternative that isn’t even close to what they showed you in the first place.
In other cases, there might not even be an apartment to lure you!
So, the ultimate key here is awareness and alertness.
A Pushy or Too-Eager Landlord
Most landlords follow the standard method where they run background checks on you or want to know your credit score.
If a certain landlord doesn’t do any form of tenant screening and seems way too eager to lease the apartment to you, it’s a clear red flag.
A pushy landlord is a great indication of scamming behavior, and you should steer clear of such landlords.
Just because there are rental scammers out there doesn’t mean you’ll never find a legitimate apartment of your choice online.
The key is to be aware, alert, and don’t ever let your guard down during the apartment-hunting process.
There are so many real and genuine rental websites online at your service, such as Dwellsy, where you are likely to find a place of your choice at your preferred price too!
Do a quick search and see if it has anything for you!
If you’re ready to start looking for a new apartment, we’re here to help.
Check out our other blog posts here.