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Renter Beware: Common Rental Scams

By Colleen Colkitt

There are several common real estate scams involving renters. Avoid the hustles by becoming familiar with the different types of cons out there right now! Here are the most popular scams that you can recognize and learn to avoid.

The Fake

This con is usually online because you won't ever see the property in this circumstance. You get drawn in because of an appealing low rate, and when you ask to see the place, the landlord says it's unable to be shown. There might be an excuse given, like someone still lives in the apartment, or they're making repairs so it'll be comfortable when you move in, or just that they're out of town.

The landlord gets you to send a deposit for the lease, and since the pictures you see online seem very nice, you have no worries you'll be able to move in. It turns out the property isn't even theirs to lease, and the website and ad are fake as well. Avoid this by insisting to see the property first.

Overseas Scammers

Although this is similar to the fake apartment scam, it is slightly different. In this case, you see an advertisement online about low rent for a beautiful apartment. When you call the landlord, he says he's about to leave the country and he needs your security deposit check or first months rent immediately.

This sounds sketchy, but many renters get scammed because the landlord tells them he needs the money from you in order to reserve your spot in the apartment, and usually the low rate gets you to make a quick decision. Don't get caught up in this scam, because typically the landlord will cash your check, and never respond to you. In most cases the apartment is not even real, and the photos are from another online property.

Craigslist Identity Theft

Craigslist can be a great site to find jobs, appliances, cars, and even apartments for rent. It's tricky to know if the ad you're seeing is too good to be true. When you see an extremely nice set of photos for a place with low rent, you want to do everything you can to qualify for the place.

Don't fall for the identity theft scam. After you click on a link to your dream apartment, it might send you to a credit form application you need to fill out in order to continue the process. This is a scam to get your information to be used by someone else. Do not fall for this trap!

Long-distance Roommate

Even with roommates there's renting scams out there. This happens when you post an ad for a new roommate and someone responds to you and pays the first month's rent. The catch, is that the roommate sends way too much for the rent and she asks for a money order to make up the difference. Once you send it, the roommates check bounces and you lose out on your cash.

Avoid Scams

A general tip to follow when apartment hunting includes always having your guard up. If a deal sounds too good to be true, usually it is. Also, never send money or any form of payment until you have proof the landlord and property itself checks out. Obviously a trusted real estate friend can help you get a good deal on an apartment and you might not need to see it, but this should not be applied to landlords or agents you don't know! Always get a lease or some form of legally binding contract that will protect you from cons as well. Keep your guard up and protect yourself from rental scams.

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