Looking for a place to rent? Watch out for these red flags to avoid falling victim to unscrupulous individuals. Scammers typically resort to the following:
Asking for money before showing you the property.
Scammers tend to ask for a viewing fee or a referral fee upfront. Don't agree to pay anything until you've met the other party in person, examined the property, and drawn up a contract with your broker.
Keep in mind that viewing fees are not industry standard -- tenants should be free to examine the property without paying any fees.
Arrange for a viewing of the property. Be wary of individuals who make excuses as to why they can't meet up or show you the property.
Check whether the property is located in the address provided. Examine it thoroughly, hiring a contractor or inspector if needed be. Don't hesitate to ask questions about it or about the neighborhood. Do your due diligence with the help of your broker and look up rental fees for similar property in the same area.
Properties advertised by more than one individual on multiple websites.
Some scammers resort to "pirating" listings: they copy-paste the information on someone else's listing and use the very same images of the property to market it as their own.
These pirated listings often crop up on one or more websites, listing a different landlord, broker, or representative.
Be sure to look for properties on trusted portals to avoid this particular scam. Arrange for a meeting and a viewing with the landlord, broker or representative in person and ask for documents that prove that the listing is theirs to rent.
A rental property that seems too good to be true.
Say you've found the perfect apartment. It's in good shape and it’s in a good location to boot, but the rent is surprisingly -- perhaps worryingly -- dirt-cheap. Look into it. There may be hidden defects with the property; defects which the landlord, or broker, may be keeping from you. The area may be flood-prone for instance; the property might’ve been built on top of an active fault line. Due diligence is a must.