How To Avoid Fraudulent Rental Listings
Written by Jonas Bordo
Protect Yourself with These Valuable Tips
Renting a home can be excruciatingly stressful. Going through hundreds of listings, contacting landlords, haggling for lower rent, and working out the utility expenses are all a lot of aspects to sketch out. Sadly that's not all! Another distressing dimension of renting an estate is the risk of falling into the trap of fraudulent listings.
As surprising as it may be, listing scams are real, and many renters become victims of such fraud. A 2018 survey showed that more than renters lost a little over $5 million due to fraudulent listings. Therefore, it’s safe to say that fake rental listing schemes are a painful reality of the housing world.
If you don’t want to become a figure of the staggeringly high number of renters who lose money to rental rackets, you need to stay on guard and watch out for the following red flags while renting.
Ask To Meet The MIA Landlord
One of the most common features of a rental listing fraud is the ever-absent landlord for different reasons. If your agent tells you that the landlord is out of town or they are too busy to meet in person, alarms should go off in your mind immediately.
Take Your Time To Transfer The Money
In rental listing scams, agents often ask tenants to wire the deposit in the blink of an eye. They pressurize interested parties into transferring money only to leave the poor fellows penniless.
If you are asked to pay the price then and there, you need to ask for time and observe the response. Should the negotiator try forcing you to send them money for any reason, such as the landlord has to go out of town and needs funds, don't pay heed. If the person you are dealing with is genuine, they will give you sufficient time to think before asking you to deposit the security money.
Check Out The Property Yourself
Perhaps the most conspicuous of all tactics that scammers use in renting business is not letting the tenant see the property before signing the lease.
Don't let your guide convince you to go without checking the property before closing the deal. No matter how sincere they seem, know that viewing the unit in person is your right, and you shouldn't give it up under any circumstances. Remain persistent and make sure that you inspect your potential abode before deciding.
Ask For License
One simple yet super effective way to work out the credibility of a rental aggregator is their license. So the first thing to do when you meet one is to inquire about their certification. If they don't present you with their license or try to dodge your request, make a beeline to the door.
The Rent Amount Is Too Good To Be True
A city has multiple areas, some of which are situated downtown while others are located on the outskirts. Naturally, based on their locations, neighborhoods earn a particular reputation, which also determines the real estate prices in the area. This means a property near the city center is more likely to have a significantly high rent price, and one in the suburbs will have a lower value.
So, if you find a listing with an unbelievably low rental listing value despite being close to or in the town center, you should know that you are in for a scam. Don’t let the enticingly low rents steer you towards scammers.
And if you don’t know about the rent rates in a neighborhood, do some research and find out to make an informed choice.
Don’t Give Your Personal Details
Typically, landlords ask for details like name, current address, references, etc., for renting a property, and rightly so. However, sometimes in rental listing scams, clients are asked to provide personal information that is not really relevant to the entire scenario.
If you find yourself in such a situation where your agent tells you to give unnecessary details, know that you have reached a red flag. That said, if the opposite party gives you a reasonable explanation for asking a particular question, then you can consider the listing if you feel comfortable.
Don’t Sign A Lousy Agreement
Certified professionals in the renting business always have immaculate leases without ambiguities or errors. But that might not be the case with fraudulent aggregators; since they are inexperienced and only in the industry to rob people, their paperwork will likely be lousy.
If you don't spot any of the red flags mentioned thus far and somehow end up with a contract on your table, be sure to read it carefully. Look for rookie mistakes such as grammatical errors, wishy-washy terms, and conditions to figure out the authenticity of the listing.
The Agent/Landlord Is Too Pushy
As already mentioned, a scammer will probably push you to speed up the process and wire the money in the twinkle of an eye, making you considerably uncomfortable. If you find yourself in such a situation where you feel rushed or the slightest bit of unease by your agent/landlord, don't sign the lease.
Every renter should consider all of their options before making a decision when renting a property. If doing so requires time and the opposite party can’t wait, they can find another prey to con.
Don't rush yourself nor let others pressure you into making a choice. Renting a home involves quite a large sum of money, so you don't want to be hasty with the proceedings.
Be On The Lookout For Duplicate Ads
Many fraud agents hijack ads and advertise an actual property with fake details. To avoid getting into such a scheme, keep an eye out for duplicate ads.
Naturally, a duplicated ad will have an original; if you find it, you'll know that one of the two is a scam. If it's hard for you to determine which one is authentic, pass on both listings and look for a new one.
If you are apartment hunting or looking for a condo to rent, stick to the tips mentioned in the articles and keep your hard-earned money secure.
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