The rental market is very competitive, and there are many ways to search for listings. Competitive rental markets often cause desperation in tenants to find somewhere to rent. This is where you often find rental scams becoming more common. Usually scammers will advertise a unit for rent that might already be occupied, is not theirs (was copied from another ad online), or is not in a position to be rented. They will ask the potential tenant to e-transfer the first and last month’s rent to secure the unit, and will hold onto it with no intention of renting the unit to them. Another common rental scam happens when the “landlord” keeps the security deposit. In either case, once the scammer gets the money from the tenant, they disappear.
Here are 10 tips to avoid rental scams:
1. Keep Your Guard Up – Don’t expect the worst, but don’t expect the best either. Keep your guard up and be careful which sites you use to search for units.
2. Verify All Information – Make sure all the information you receive is correct and the person you’re dealing with is legitimate and reputable. Do a quick search of the person’s name advertising the rental.
3. Meet The Landlord – Don’t send money to someone you don’t know or have not met.
4. Don’t Use Cash – Legitimate landlords will often accept regular or cashier’s cheques. Cheques are also easy to trace by the police where cash and money orders are not.
5. Go See It – Take the time to physically go to the unit and check it out.
You can’t always rely on pictures alone! Viewing a unit will help prevent fraud and ensure that you are aware of the condition of the unit.
6. Trust Your Gut – If there is anything alarming, suspicious, or that just gives you a bad feeling, trust your gut and walk away.
7. Get a Written Lease – Written leases will identify the name and contact information for the landlord. Also, search Google and Canada Post for the address on the written lease to make sure it is a legitimate address. Go to this link to get a copy of the new Rental Tenancy Agreement.
8. Get Familiar With The Market – Get to know average rental costs for similar units in the area to what you’re looking for.
9. Ask Questions – Ask as many questions as you can, especially about the landlord, their plans for the property, the rent and utilities. The more questions you ask, the more you can find out if they are telling the truth.
10. Use Legitimate Sources – If you want to be absolutely sure, rent from a Realtor or property management company. Using a licensed real estate agent to represent you and help you find a unit will also ensure that you will rent from a legitimate owner.
For more information, or if you have a question, contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 416-222-1212.