How to Spot and Avoid Rental Scams While Looking at Apartments for Rent

Written by Posted On Thursday, 02 May 2019 03:17

Apartment hunting is stressful enough without adding to it the possibility of being scammed. It's bad enough you've got to worry about a security deposit, rent, utilities, pet fees (if any), the neighborhood and possibly your commute.

Add to that the fact that there are those who will take advantage of your need to have somewhere to live, and apartment hunting can seem like a regular nightmare. However, there are ways to make the experience less stressful.

Knowing how to spot and avoid rental scams can certainly take the fear of being scammed out of the equation. Leaving you free to focus on the things that matter, like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and whether or not you want to pay extra for the unit with the fireplace.

Keep reading to learn how to spot and avoid rental scams while apartment hunting.

What Is A Rental Scam?

Your typical rental scam usually involved a person pretending to rent out an apartment in order to steal your money. Usually the apartment they show off is not theirs and they have no legal right to rent the apartment out.

Resulting in you giving a large amount of money to an individual for an apartment to live in, only to find out on move-in day the person you spoke with has vanished and the real landlord has no idea who you are.

The problem with these scams is that they can tricky to spot and avoid. After all, these people are professional liars. It's what they do. So how can you spot and avoid a possible renal scam?

Common Red Flags to Be Aware Of

While it can be difficult to spot a rental scam it isn't impossible. And can actually be quite easy if you know what to look for. These common red flags are sure ways to spot a rental scam from a mile away.

Send Money without Seeing Apartment

One of the biggest red flags and a sure sign you're being scammed is being asked to send money somewhere for an apartment you've never seen or to someone whom you've never met.

While a landlord does request a lot of money upfront before you even move in or sign the lease, it is not common to ask for large amounts for something without seeing it. After all, you need to know if the pictures sent are in fact what you're paying for, is there anything in the apartment that the picture doesn't show? How does water work?

Does the apartment heat up well in the colder months and stay cool in the warmer ones? These are all important and impossible to know without walking into the apartment.

If a landlord seems to give you the run around when it comes to seeing the property but is requesting money, it's time to run.


Apartments are notorious for having security deposits, first and last month’s rent and any applicable fees due right up front. However, be aware that scammers will ask for higher than normal amounts of money for these things.

Check around with other landlords if you think you're being asked to spend a ridiculous amount before moving in.

No Lease

This is possibly the scariest and worst scam to fall for. These can often go deeper than just scamming a potential tenant out of some money fast.

Anytime a landlord offers to rent an apartment without having you sign a lease is an almost a guarantee you're about to be scammed. Remember rental agreements and leases are there to protect you as much as the landlord.

What Happens If I Get Scammed?

First of all, don't feel bad. Many people fall victim to scams all the time, these people are professionals after all. And to them, this is a profession, their job.

As much time as you put into being good at your job, so does they. However, that does not mean they should get away with it. If you feel like you've fallen victim to a scam contact your local law enforcement right away. Second is contact your bank.

Especially if you gave the scammer and of your personally identifiable information or banking information. While it may seem hopeless you might be able to recover your money, catch the scammer, and prevent somebody else from falling victim as well.

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kathy mitchell




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