Tips & Tricks to avoid Rental Scams

1Rental scams are at a fever pitch right now, and protecting yourself and your money while apartment hunting should be your number 1 priority.

In most cases, using common sense will help you stay out of trouble (we’ve all heard of the Nigerian Prince who will wire you a Million dollars as long as you cover the transaction fee) but even a street smart consumer can be fooled by a believable scam. Here are some tip & tricks to avoiding being duped.

1. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is…

1That newly renovated townhouse with all new stainless steel appliances, a small outdoor patio complete with a finished garden, and large three car garage that just happens to be in the heart of the city, and is going for a fraction of average rental? Yeah, thats too good to be true. Business Insider’s tip #6 is great advice – “Trust your intuition.” If the apartment of your dreams is at a price you didn’t even think possible, it is most likely a scam.

2. Never, under any circumstance, wire money to someone you have never met.

1Boston.com details the nightmare situation of finding out you have been duped online. If a landlord “had an emergency come up” or is “out of state working another property” do not wire them money to secure the apartment! Wait until they they are back (if they are actually coming back) and see the listing then. In the meantime, start your search up again. I can guarantee you, starting your apartment search over again is much less of a headache then wiring a few thousand dollars you will never get back!

3. See the listing in person!

1This is easily the best advice you can take to ensure you are not getting duped online. Schedule a showing, tour the apartment, and then you can start the process of actually applying for the apartment. If you physically cannot be present for the showing, make sure someone you trust is. Touring the apartment is your best way to ensure you are not getting scammed. Not to mention, actually seeing the apartment you will be renting for at least a year is a great idea.

The underlying theme in these tips? Common sense. Do not get yourself into trouble by rushing the apartment rental process. Take your time, do you your homework, and actually see the apartment in person.

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Rental Scams: What you need to know

We have all been on a rental hunt before; plowing through dozens of listings with little to no luck, when suddenly we find one that seems to too good to be true. Well in the fast paced, competitive, and murky waters of rental housing…it usually is.

Rental scams are found all too often on rental search sites and, with each passing season, scammers and their devious plots become more advanced and increasingly difficult to detect. Here a few notes to look for when search sites for rentals:

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  1. Funds Up Front: Never send money or provide your credit card information before seeing the property, even if the landlord or agent says its just a holding fee or sends you to sight that seems legitimate. Take your time and make sure to see properties or have someone you trust go see properties for you.

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  2. Holy Grail:  If it seems to good to be true, it most likely is. If the rent is well below market value or the lease terms are very flexible, these are probably not due to an overly generous property owner. Run your own search for the property and make sure it does not come up for a different price or as a for sale property. Often scammers take one listing and replicate it as their own.

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  3. Grammar and Gotcha: Emails, text messages, and other communication that includes broken English, excessive punctuation, and other grammar mistakes are often signs of scams. The use of “God bless,” “reverend,” or “doctor” can be signs of a scam as well hoping to build trust.

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  4. Outlook is Out: Email addresses from Outlook are 19 times more likely to be a scam than those from Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail — and those from non-United States accounts for properties in the U.S. are almost always scams.

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  5. Cash is Not King: If all checks out – you see the property, love it, and the price is right – never deal in cash. Always have a paper trail and pay in a way that is traceable and trackable – if you’re being pressured to give a cash deposit, it’s a red flag.

Rental Beast is helping agents, renters, and landlords alike better identify and remove scams and fake rental listings with a team of database ninjas working across the United States. Their sole job is to monitor, measure, and manager all listings the enter and are loaded into the Rental Beast database to confirm contact information, financial requirements, unit information, and showing instructions.

Agents and renters alike can be certain that active properties they find on our site are listed by actual agents and landlords with direct contact information provided. By cleaning up and managing our listings from the start, we are able to help agents and renters find their perfect rental faster and more conveniently –  as we say at Rental Beast ‘less hunt; more find.’