Friday, August 8, 2014

How To Spot Rental Scams on the Internet

This article will help you find scams in rental property and apartment searches on the internet with sites like craigslist, roomster, as well as the credit checks, application process, and countless emails with landlords.

How to Decide if it is a Legitimate or Shady Landlord During Your Apartment Search

As we approach the end of Summer 2014, that means one thing for many: starting anew by picking up all our belongings and moving to a new apartment, house, or condo. The transition of moving in itself can be quite tiring, but the process of searching for a new place can be just as exhausting.

Renters cite frustrations via online outlets like Craigslist, Roomster,, as well as going through the application process, credit checks, et cetera.

In the mind of a renter, the following criteria usually comes into question:
  • What is the neighborhood like?
  • Is the rental rate per month affordable?
  • Is there a lease or is the living space rented on a month-to-month basis?
  • If there are multiple living spaces in the apartment, what are the other roommates like personality-wise?
  • What is the landlord/owner like in terms of personality and efficiency?
  • Does the landlord use a property management company to promptly handle tenant inquiries?
  • Is he/she reliable for future incidents within the living space that require their care? (i.e. running out of hot water, broken thermostat central air/heat during the warm/cold months)
During the search for a new living space, one must be aware of the scams where people pose as landlords looking to swindle would-be security deposit money from the potential renter. 

Keep reading to learn how to discern what makes a listing and landlord legitimate versus what makes them a scammer, and how to protect yourself. These online thieves prey on renters who look to fulfill this criteria for their new living situation.

A Listing Too Good To Be True? False!

We can't say "friend-or-foe" in theses types of cases because landlords are not there to be friends. Rather, these scenarios we can classify as “spend-or-faux” in making the right decision to invest on your next move without succumbing to shady scammer that poses as a landlord.

These are examples of scenarios in which you have likely come across a rental scam in your new home search online:

  • E-mail Scamming While On A "Mission"
  • Communication with an E.T. (Elusive Thief) & Your Inability to Phone Home (owner)
  • Stealing Personal Information Through an Application
  • A Fake Owner Showing A Home That is Not Theirs

Listing offers a great low price, for too many unimaginably nice amenities 

This is a case in which a renter can be duped by a scammer by being drawn in by the price of an apartment that has a workout facility, "superb" property management, brand new hardwood floors, a kids play area and other top-of-the-line amenities for a low monthly rate? It seems tempting, but you have to consider that in today's real estate market, what landlord or property manager would be so nice enough to charge their tenants with so many expensive items for a low monthly rate? That literally just does not add up.

E-mail Scamming While On A "Mission" 

So you found an ideal living space on a apartment search website that seems really afforable for your monthly budget, and has great amenities in an ideal location. Also, the home's supposed "owner" emails you with a long-winded message with details about the apartment being vacant due to reasons that make it seem either plausible or absolutely unconscionable based on the writing.

The lie could be about a real estate agent looking to broker the apartment to potential tenants for the landlord, giving you a ridiculously long questionnaire to fill out that is a makeshift application, and telling you that keys to the vacant home they are willing to send to your permanent homes address only after you send the deposit for the new apartment.

Communication with an E.T. (Elusive Thief) & Your Inability to Phone Home (owner)

Shady people thrive in hiding, but you know how they say that things in the dark will eventually come to light? If you have contact information from the owner on an apartment search listing site such as Craigslist, but you only have the multi-letter email as contact information with either no name and nor phone number of the owner listed. The email address is neither within the response email to continue the negotiation process or set up for a showing time. Many of times without being seen, they will text you without the willingness to call you direct nor see you in person for the showing.

Stealing Personal Information Through an Application 

If you see a questionnaire in an email response to you asking for your personal information (i.e. credit card information to debit a security deposit amount, social security number, then don't waste your time and money disclosing your identity and bank information

A Fake Owner Showing A Home That is Not Theirs 

Many faux-landlords understand that nobody wants to rent a site unseen. So they take advantage of a foreclosed house and somehow steal keys from homeowners or the property managers to copy in order to open the home's entrances and show you the place.

How To Protect Yourself From Scammers When Searching for an Apartment or Rental Property 

  • Do your research on the local area and you will see how comparable the prices should be to discern what makes a legitimate listing from a real estate agent, landlord, or property manager.
  • Only exchange information with the person showing the apartment after you agree to stay in it, and have had a conversation with a neighbor in the building. As they ask for references upon your application for the home, identify the landlord's or agent's name online, or check into the HOA or the agency they are a part of.
  • Ask the neighbors of the home you are looking at about the landlord's reputation. Also, you can refer to the local county property records office for verification.
  • The worst question is the one that you don't ask. Make sure you are as inquisitive as possible when assessing if this investment in a new rental home is right for you.
  • Meet at a rental office if in the apartment complex.
  • Make sure that the home for rent is not in foreclosure.
  • Contact the FTC, to file a complaint for any suspicious behavior.

    Final Thoughts on Rental Property or Apartment Scams

    Do not give out contact information to a land lord or property management company unless you are sure it is a legitimate listing. Contact a reliable property management in the Greater Boston area for real property listings so you can avoid the negative experiences of internet searches through cragislist and other online rental property listing sites.

    Have you experienced these types of scams? How did it make you feel when you came across these scams in your apartment search? Please talk about your good or bar rental property search experiences in the comments below. Thanks for reading and good luck in your apartment search!

    1 comment :

    1. The internet is a vast collection of information that could be useful or harmful if we are not careful. Scammers nowadays are really convincing as they advertise professionally to make their ads look credible enough for buyers to believe. I would strongly advise to consult an estate agent for all of your housing needs rather than thinking of saving a little and might risk getting scammed in the end.