Avoiding rental scams requires one to be cautious and aware of some of the red flags which signal a scammer. Despite our desire to trust people, there is an element out there that is willing to do anything and everything it takes to take advantage of that desire to trust. Scammers exist in all corners of the economy, and they prey on anyone and everyone without discrimination. Rental scams are particularly more common than some other times of scams. Most people are looking for a place to live assume the deal is a legitimate one and often people are desperate to find a great deal on a place to live. This combination of factors makes rental scams hard to detect. Take a look at the following red flags which can help you identify an avoid rental scams.
Too good to be true
As the saying goes if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. This is one of the easiest red flags to recognize in any scam, not just a rental scam. Anyone landlord or homeowner looking to rent their property will have done some research on fair market price for their rental. If the surrounding rental prices significantly differ from the rental you are viewing, then it is very likely a scam. While this may not always be the case, be sure to take a good hard look at it and be extra cautious.
In today’s market, you can always look into who is renting the apartment of the home. Never hesitate to ask for the names of the owners and their contact information. If the property is managed by a property management company, then you can ask for a business license number and for them to provide an address and contact information. Do research online to verify the information given to you and look for reviews on sites like Yelp or just in a Google search. All businesses should accept cash, checks, debit or credit cards for transactions. Be wary of anyone who accepts cash only; this is especially true if they ask for payment via wire transfers. These are giant red flags that you are dealing with a scammer.
Never rent sight unseen
It should go without saying, but you would be surprised how many people move from one town to another without ever even looking at the rental property in person. Always make sure to look at a place before you rent it. Take a few days to look into properties you are interested in before moving so that you can protect yourself from being scammed or simply being disappointed.
This same advice applies to anyone considering a lease-to-own home. Make sure you do your due diligence before signing any lease agreement that you might be a scam.