Welcome to San Diego Blog | April 13, 2018
Rental Scams for Renters to Avoid in 2018
As we enter the spring and upcoming summer season more and more renters are looking for a new place to live. Ever increasing home prices and interest rates are forcing even more people to rent, which is unfortunately bringing scammers into the rental industry. These scammers use a real rental property and often steal photos from a legitimate listing to steal not only your identity, but also your hard earned money. These scams used to only exist on Craigslist, but as more and more people try to scam applicants we are seeing scams across most rental sites. One quick tip is to check if the property is listed on multiple sites. With modern technology any property owner/manager should be posting their condo on multiple websites, so if they are not, it is a scam!
Here are a few ways to keep your information and bank account safe when searching for your next home:
If it Looks Too Good to Be True
If a rental looks like it is too good to be true, that’s because it is! Often times scammers will price their units well below market rents (sometimes as much as $1000!) and offer extremely flexible lease options. In a competitive market, real property owners are not going to do this as they purchased their rental property as an investment. Something else we have seen is landlords offering HUGE discounts for prepaid rent so they can take all of your money in one quick go, so be very careful!
Landlord Wants Too Much Before You See Anything
If the landlord asks for anything beyond basic information to prescreen you, then it is a scam. Often times scammers will ask you to drive by a property to see the outside before applying, and will not allow you to see the interior as they do not own the unit! A real property manager will ask some questions to determine that the property is the right fit for you, but should never take any money up front.
Sample questions that a legitimate landlord may ask:
- When are you looking to move in?
- What length of Lease Term are you looking for?
- Do you have pets?
- How many people will be occupying the property?
- What are your must have’s for a property?
If a landlord does not ask for an application and a processing fee for the application before they ask for a security deposit or rent, it is a scam, RUN! Every legitimate landlord will ask you to fill out a rental application, ask for a government issued photo ID, and provide documentation supporting your application before renting to you at a bare minimum. This protects the owner from potential rental scams just as you would like to be protected from landlords.
Bad Grammar, Illegitimate Emails & Not taking Your Phone Call
If the potential landlord sends consistent error-filled emails or refuses to take your phone call, this is a bad sign. While some landlords may not be as professional as others and may occasionally send an email with a few errors, be very wary if they will not take or return a phone call. Another thing to look out for is illegitimate, or fake, email addresses. These often look like a real address, but is actually a phishing attempt.
If the property is being handled by someone for an owner who is “overseas” or the owner themselves claims to be overseas be very wary. While owners who live abroad often rent their condos out while they are out of the country, most chose to use a management company to assist them. If an owner claims they are “out of the country for a mission trip,” “on a cruise ship,” or anything like that it is a scam. These scammers will ask for you to mail them a cashiers check and once it is received they will mail you the keys.
Best Practices to Avoid These Scams
If you are careful and follow your instincts you should be able to avoid common rental scams. Always do your research, and with technology it has never been easier. For example, put any address into Google. If it does not pop right up, it is a scam. You can also go a Google Image search to see if the same photos are anywhere else on the web. Or, if you want to take all of this out of your hands, you can consult a Realtor at Welcome to San Diego and we will be happy to help. Give us a call today!