How to Avoid Common Rental Scams in 2024?

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For all the good that is in this world, there is also lots of bad, and one of the worst types of ‘bad’ that you can encounter is the type that intends to scam or rob people of their hard-earned money for something that they know isn’t worth it or doesn’t exist at all. And unfortunately, the real estate industry and market isn’t a stranger to scams either.

In fact, rental scams have existed for as long as there has been an idea of a rental property, and since scammers are always coming up with new ways to make money and rob people of their money, its time we discussed some of the common rentals scams of 2024, and how these can be avoided to ensure a good experience when renting an apartment or a home out. 

Because as much as we would like to think that we are smart and that scams are too obvious or too good to be true, scammers are always evolving, keeping in tune with the times to ensure that whatever new scam they have gets them some money. Which is why, in this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the newer scams in 2024 and how they can be avoided. 

Also Read: Short-Term Rentals and Noise: Finding a Peaceful Spot in Toronto

Common Rental Scams in 2024: How to Avoid Them?

While the rental market is pretty well-sorted out and usually scams stand out as being too good or have obvious, glaring errors that keep people away, in 2024, there are still some scams that can fool or trick people into thinking what they’re dealing with is legitimate and has no ill intentions at all. Which is why, first, we’ll be quickly going through some common scams that are still going around, and ones that people need to be aware of. 

  • One of the most common scams of 2024 is a person who has no legal rights of leasing a property actually leases out the apartment or home to a party or potential tenant. Once a security deposit or first month’s rent is paid out, the scammer makes off with the money, leaving the potential renter with no place to move to. 
  • Since background checks are more common nowadays, some scammers may pose as property owners and charge potential renters a nominal fee for conducting a background check. Since they have no such property, they ask for the fee from several prospects and make off with a substantial sum of money. 
  • While this one has been going on for some time now, many people copy actual listings off the internet or the newspaper and post it. When contacted, they allude to being the property owner and insist on being paid a deposit to reserve the unit or in some cases, can ask an enthusiastic tenant to rent the property unseen by sending them a month’s rent. Obviously, since the listing is copied, there is no property, and these people get scammed. 
  • One of the more elaborate ones involves the foreclosed properties that some scammers get physical access to. Since these buildings are empty, scammers and criminals break into them, swap out the locks and then even conduct open houses or show potential renters around the building. The scam may even continue for several months before the bank or local authorities actually notify the person(s) living in the premises that the property is in fact foreclosed and the scammer does not legally own it or has the authority to collect rent on it. 

Recognising, Avoiding Rental Scams 

It is imperative that people recognize rental scams, because only by properly recognizing such scams will they be able to avoid losing their hard-earned money and line the pockets of a no-good scammer. While the general term of ‘if it looks too good to be true, it probably is’ applies to rental scams all the time, the aforementioned scams are still going on and have the propensity to rob people of their hard-earned money. Which is why, here are some telltale signs of a rental scam that will help you steer clear of losing your money to a scammer. 

Rental listing looks bogus

Anything from wrong details, addresses to obvious errors and pictures that seem unrealistic are considered a part of a bogus listing. What it means is that the lisitng is probably fake and is being used by a scammer to attract people. Unreasonably low rent, pictures of a midsize condominium over description of a studio apartment and typos or errors in addresses of a city can all be attributed to being the bait of a scammer. Obviously, this does require that you forego the occasional typo that genuine landowners or property owners might make while listing their property for rent but remember: if it looks or sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Asking for money upfront

That is already problematic but should a supposed landlord or property owner insist on being paid upfront and without you having done anything with the property, that is a major red flag right there. No law in the world forces people to do anything like that lest they are willing to get scammed, and no property owner can pressure you into providing money upfront for a rental that you haven’t seen or intend to reserve for yourself. While 9 times out of 10 anybody asking you for money upfront against a rental property will be a scam, the one time it isn’t wont do you any good either. Its better not to rent a property from an owner who is too ‘into their money’.

No background checks, no property visits

This goes both ways. A landlord is supposed to ask you for a background check report, since its their property and they are allowed to ask you for any such report. On the other hand, they are then inclined to provide you with a tour of the property, to help you better gauge the place and make an informed decision. If both or one step is missing from this, its time to call it out. As much as landlords might seem uptight when asking for background checks, it is reasonable given that the property will be used by you and they want to make sure that you are the person who will take care of it and not abuse it. Similarly, you are entitled to visit the premises beforehand. If your potential landlord seems too cool for a background check or a visit, it might be time for a closer look. 

Avoiding rental scams

By avoiding such rental scams by recognizing them a mile away, you will not only be keeping yourself and your money safe, but you will also be doing the public a favour, since such scammers will get dejected easily when no one buys into their scam or their scam gets caught early on, keeping some other people away from them. Therefore, always ensure that each step of the process is as clear as possible and does not have even a speck of doubt in it. 

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