How to Avoid Rental Scams

Last updated May 26, 2022 | By Robert Wilson
How to Avoid Rental Scams image

It's no secret that rental scams are on the rise. In fact, they're so common that many people are hesitant to rent anything at all! However, with a little bit of knowledge and caution, you can avoid becoming a victim of a rental scam. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common rental scams and how to avoid them. We will also provide some tips for finding trustworthy rentals online. Stay safe and happy renting!

The Listing is Full of Errors

You found the perfect apartment on Craigslist. It’s in your price range, in the right neighborhood, and it even has a washer and dryer in the unit. But something seems off. The listing is full of grammatical errors, the photos seem to be from different apartments, and the contact information is a cell phone number from a country you’ve never heard of.

Unfortunately, this is probably a rental scam. Scammers will often post fake listings for apartments or houses, hoping to lure in unsuspecting victims. They count on the fact that people are desperate to find a place to live and will overlook red flags like poor grammar or suspicious contact information. Often, these scammers will even use real estate photos stolen from other websites. If you’re not careful, you could end up sending money to a scammer without ever getting the keys to an apartment.

So how can you avoid rental scams? The best way is to be careful and pay attention to detail. If a listing seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request more photos before you send any money. 

Bait-and-Switch in a Time Crunch

By definition, bait-and-switch is an illegal marketing tactic whereby a business uses one lure to draw in customers and then uses another, often less desirable, item to make the sale. For example, a dissatisfied customer who rented an apartment sight-unseen only to find it in disrepair may feel they've been bait-and-switched. 

In the world of online rental scams, bait-and-switch takes on a slightly different meaning. In this context, scammers will post attractive ads for rental properties that don't actually exist. When would-be renters inquire about the listing, the scammer will try to rush them into signing a lease for another property - usually one that's in poor condition and overpriced. 

If you're in the market for a rental property, be on the lookout for any listings that seem too good to be true. And if you're pressured to make a decision without seeing the property first, it's best to walk away. Chances are, you're about to be the victim of a bait-and-switch scheme.

Money First, Signature After

If the landlord asks for money before giving you the keys, it's likely a scam. The landlord may say that they need the money to hold the unit for you or that they need it for repairs. Whatever the reason, don't fall for it. Once you hand over the money, there's no guarantee that you'll ever see the keys or get your money back. If you're ever in doubt, ask a friend or family member for their opinion before handing over any money.

You Can Look, But You Can't Enter

You’ve found the perfect apartment on Craigslist, and the price is too good to be true. But when you try to schedule a showing, the landlord says that you can’t enter the property until you’ve paid the deposit. This is a huge red flag, and it’s likely that you’re dealing with a rental scammer. These scammers will often post fake listings for properties that don’t actually exist, or they may try to collect deposits for units that are already occupied. If you can’t enter the property or meet the landlord in person, it’s best to walk away and find another rental. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.