Being savvy when you’re in search of a rental is well worth the effort. Here are some signs you may be dealing with a scam:
They tell you to wire money. This is the surest sign of a scam. There’s never a good reason to wire money to pay a security deposit, application fee, first month’s rent, or vacation rental fee. That’s true even if they send you a contract first. Wiring money is the same as sending cash — once you send it, you have no way to get it back.
They want a security deposit or first month’s rent before you’ve met or signed a lease. It’s never a good idea to send money to someone you’ve never met in person for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it’s for rent, and that it is what was advertised. In addition to setting up a meeting, do a search on the owner and listing. If you find the same ad listed under a different name, that’s a clue it may be a scam.
They say they’re out of the country. But they have a plan to get the keys into your hands. It might involve a lawyer or an “agent” working on their behalf. Some scammers even create fake keys. Don’t send money to them overseas. If you can’t meet in person, see the apartment, or sign a lease before you pay, keep looking. What if the rental itself is overseas? Paying with a credit card or through a reputable vacation rental website with its own payment system are your safest bets.
Tips to Help Avoid a Rental Scam
Rental scams are rising in number because people want a good deal. If the rent is priced too low and the home is in good condition. Ex $400 for a renovated 3 Bedroom 2 Bath home, Be VERY careful. Why? Because landlords are investors in real estate, why would they only rent a home for $400 per month when the going rate for a 3 bedroom is $750-$800?
-Hire a real estate agent to help you find a rental and off to pay retainer or fee for their time. What's $200-250? Nothing compared to the $500- $1000 or more you will loose if a scammers tricks you!
- Pay a real estate agent to provide a customized listing of rental homes. In most cases there is a signed lease listing contract in place b with the owner of record/landlords prior to agents placing them on the market for sale.
- Search for homes on reputable property management such as ComeRentAtlanta.com, Invitationhomes.com, havenbrookhomes.com , etc
- Prepare your move. It is easier for scammers to prey on tenant that are in a bind or looking to move immediately. Take your time, don't miss the clues because you did not plan properly.