Has this ever happened to you or someone you know?
Your ideal housing situation falls through when you need to be out of your apartment by the end of the month. You frantically search rental listings and find a listing that sounds too good to be true. The apartment is in a desirable neighborhood and the rent is extremely affordable. The ad says the landlord can’t meet with you to tour the home, but the place is yours if you send a cash deposit and the landlord will send you the keys.
The last thing you want to happen is to fall prey to a rental scam because you are desperate!
Creekbend Property Management has valuable tips to help spot and avoid falling victim to rental scams:
- NEVER DEAL IN CASH
A tenant should never pay landlords cash for anything. Especially for security deposit and first month’s rent. Law enforcement can track most kinds of payments, and crooks know this. These criminals will insist on cash, and if you refuse, they will be on the hunt for an easier victim. The deposit and first month’s rent (sometimes last month) is a big investment. Before signing anything or handing over any of your money, do your research! If a rental arrangement feels a bit off, don’t feel embarrassed, address your concerns and go with your gut!
If an ad says: “I live out of the country; I’ll send you the keys after you send me the deposit.” All the bells and whistles should be going off! Never, ever get sucked into this type of scam!
A landlord attempting to be anonymous is a red-flag. A tenant should never wire money that is hard to trace such as Western Union, Moneygram, Bitcoin or MoneyPak.
- NEVER RENT SIGHT-UNSEEN
Demanding to view a rental helps prevent fraud by cutting down the risk of getting scammed significantly. There are some instances of scammers having access to the unit, pretending to be the landlord; if you don’t feel comfortable signing a lease or handing over a deposit, do your research by going on line to see who owns the property or ask neighbors in the area.
Not only does insisting on seeing the unit prevent fraud, it also ensures that the tenant is aware of the condition of the unit and the improvements that are needed before signing lease and moving in.
- BE AWARE OF RENTAL RATES
If the rent is too good to be true…chances are it’s because it’s a scam. If you have been searching for a 2 bedroom apartment in a particular neighborhood, you will have an idea what to expect to pay. So if you come across a listing that’ is significantly lower, it’s either a dump or a scam.
- BE WARY OF LANDLORDS WHO ARE NOT INTERESTED IN YOUR BACKGROUND
Red flags should always go up if a landlord does not require any references. A legitimate landlord will always require screening you for a background check.
If you are moving to a new state and need to place to stay right away, call a reputable, licensed property management company in that area. A good property manager will tell you what is available in your price range, and if the neighborhood you’re interested in is safe.
5. SKETCHY ROOM MATE LISTINGS
Again, we can’t emphasize this enough; do not hand over ANY money unless you are 100% certain you know who owns the property, who is managing the property, and if you are making a legitimate room mate arrangement.
Creekbend Property Management advises to do your research; it’s worth your time protecting your wallet! Prevention is better than struggling to recover from being scammed. More than likely the crook will get away and you’ll never recover your hard- earned money.
Creekbend Property Management is located in Charleston, SC specializing in rental properties in Charleston, James Island, Park Circle, North Charleston, West Ashley, Mt. Pleasant, Johns Island, Kiawah, Ladson, Moncks Corner, Summerville, and Goose Creek. We are licensed and insured, providing leasing services, management services, maintenance, and most importantly; giving our property investors peace of mind!