Nothing is as exciting as a first-time renter moving to their own house. However, moving to your own house isn’t so rosy, especially if you find yourself entangled in a rental scam.
Perhaps you have heard a story or two of people who have lost huge sums of money on shady rental scams and you think you can never be a victim of such. Think again. Rental scammers have devised all manner of dubious ways to con unsuspecting renters. Unless you are aware of the various scams, it might be easy for you to fall prey. Read on to find out some of the scams renters fall for and how to avoid them!
6 Forms of Rental Scams
Here are some common rental scams that you should be aware of as you search for a new house!
1. Empty House
It is easy to fall prey of the empty house scam. The scams using this approach find an advert for an empty house, duplicate the listing, but insert their contact information. Others are so malicious such that they will make separate keys which they use to show the house to individuals. You will then be asked to pay a deposit and the month’s rent and when you try to reach the supposed landlord when bringing in your belongings, he will be long gone!
2. Fake Landlords
You have found your dream house. The “landlord or caretaker” gives you all the details you need from the amount of rent to how to make the payments but they are not willing to meet you in person for further talks. That is a major warning. Other scammers will hide behind being out of town to lure you to make the payment. Anyone willing to rent out their houses will avail themselves. So, if someone appears to be too busy for a one-on-one meeting, don’t spent another cent talking to them – look for another house.
3. Tenant Scams
Some tenants have become scammers nowadays. You will see a house that matches your ideal house and then there will be a friendly tenant willing to show you around. Who will suspect anybody offering them help? Ideally, the tenant assumes the behaviors or a real landlord. You see how easy it is to fall for this trick? Then next time you come across a friendly individual claiming to be the landlord, think twice before paying any money as collateral or deposit.
4. No Lease Scams
A lease agreement is a binding agreement between a tenant and landlord. It protects both you and the landlord against any eventualities that may occur during the tenancy period. A verbal agreement may end you up in big trouble. Some individuals will lure you into making rent and deposit payments without any lease agreement. If someone is insisting on payments without an agreement, it is a red flag!
This is one of the most common rental scams that usually occurs. Someone wants you to send them money in exchange for information about a house you haven’t seen. Because you are anxious to move out for whatever reason, you could find yourself paying the quoted amount. And the worst thing is that they are very sleek and tactful when asking you to send them money. A trustworthy landlord won’t make you pay any money before signing a lease agreement.
6. Too Good to Be True
Chances of finding your dream house are very high. However, before you commit any amount, it is important you consider a few aspects. For instance, a house with all the right features but is cheap should be a red flag. Scammers are now taking advantage of first-time renters to lure them into paying deposit for a house they have not seen.
5 Simple Ways to Avoid Rental Scams
Rental scams are on the rise, while being aware of rental scams is important, it isn’t enough – you need to know how to avoid or solve them. Here are simple ways to avoid falling prey of such scams the next time you decide to move.
1. Visit the House Before Paying Anything
You must ensure that you see the house to make sure that it truly does exist and meets your standards. If the person you are dealing with doesn’t want to show you the house, that’s a sign that you are about to be conned. Serious, professional 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.
2. Never Pay For a House You Haven’t Seen
Insist seeing the house first before paying any cent. If anyone asks you for money to show you a house, avoid them like a plague. Most scammers will ask for cash upfront and if you refuse to pay, they move onto the next victim. So why not do the same and move on to the next house search? The only time you should pay money is after you have read and signed the lease agreement.
3. 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 that 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.
4. Understand 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.
5. Don’t Be in a Rush to Get a House
Most first-time renters fall prey of rental scammers because of being in a hurry to move in. An honest landlord won’t put pressure on you to move into his house. You want to find a house that matches your needs and is within your budget. If you come across someone who is asking you to pay rent quickly, think twice.
In an ideal world, you’d want to get a house easily without going through any challenges. However, this is not usually the case, as there are numerous cons looking for the slightest opportunity to con unsuspecting first-time renters. The above tips will help you reduce the chances of becoming victims of these scams. Be on the lookout and help a friend.
Feel free to share your experience with rental scammers. Also, share these tips to save a friend.