Moving to your own house brings a lot of excitement, but it can also cause frustration if you happen to get caught in a rental scam. You might have heard about people getting conned, and thought it can never happen to you. You meet a shady character who lies that he has a house ready for you to move in, and all he needs is for you to send him some "deposit" so that he or she can “keep” it for you.
Spotting a scam from a mile away even before it hits you will help you avoid getting conned by these people. Here are some of the most common rental scams people fall prey to:
Once you find a house that you love and the “landlord/caretaker” gives you all the details but they don’t want to meet you in person for further talks that should be a major red flag. In addition, they keep lying to you that they’re out of town. If you keep reaching out, and the landlord is too busy for you, do yourself a favour and continue your search.
This type of con artist will look for listings of an empty house, duplicate it and put his contact information. Some go to the extent of making separate keys for you, just to make the whole scam more believable. The owner of the house might not know that a scam is taking place, until someone brings it to his attention or until he visits the property.
Some scammers will try and get you to pay for rent without signing a lease agreement. If you make a verbal agreement with the landlord, you will end up getting yourself in trouble if anything goes wrong. Be no the lookout.
You find a house, visit the place and meet someone who shows you around and makes you feel welcome. They even give you a fake lease agreement to sign. The current tenant will behave like the landlord who will ask to collect a certain amount of money before as collateral.
A trustworthy landlord won’t make you pay any money before signing a lease agreement. Someone wants you to send them money in exchange for a house you haven’t seen. Because you are anxious to move out for whatever reason, you find yourself paying this money. And the worst thing is that they are very sleek and tactful when asking you to send them money.
Too Good To Be True
If you find a house that you absolutely love with all the right features but somehow the rent is cheap then you should think twice. If you come across a listing ad which looks too close to perfect, do some research first before giving out your money. Scammers will take advantage of first-time renters who have no clue on what to do when they’re apartment hunting.
How To Avoid Rental Scams
Being aware of rental scams is not enough if you don’t know how to avoid or solve them. Follow these tips to help you reduce the chances of getting caught in a fix when you decide to move.
Don’t Rush to Get a House
An honest landlord won’t put pressure on you to move into his house. You want to find a house that fits your needs and budget. If you come across someone asking you to pay rent quickly, think twice.
Visit the Place Before You Rent
make a point of visiting the house yourself to make sure that it truly exists, and meets your standards, and If not, move on to the next house. Serious, landlords want to get tenants in their houses and they will gladly show you the house to let you make an informed decision. If you can’t visit the place by yourself, ask a friend or family member to check it out for you.
Sign a Lease Agreement
A lease agreement will protect you from many things if you ever go to court. It will also help you secure your rent deposit when it’s time to move out. To make sure the house is rented out legally, look for the owner’s name in the lease agreement. If someone is working on behalf of the landlord, ask for documentation to prove it.
Never Pay For What You Haven’t Seen
If anyone asks you for money to show you a house, avoid them like a plague. Most scammers will insist on asking for cash upfront, and if you refuse to pay, they move onto the next victim. The only time you should pay money is after you have read and signed the lease agreement.
Research on the Market Rates
Do some research on your own to know the rent prices in the area you want to move to. This will give you an estimate on what to expect when house hunting. You can differentiate the fake ads from the real ones.
In an ideal world, you’d want to get a house easily without going through any challenges. There are people looking to take advantage of first-time renters who are not aware of how the renting process works. Don’t fall prey to any of these scams. Be on the lookout.