Rent Fraud

Be Wary of Rental Scams

Before even considering renters insurance, you first need to select a rental property where you will feel confident and comfortable living. Choosing the right rental property is just as important as purchasing a new home. The rental search process, then, should be taken seriously. Rental scams unfortunately exist on the market, but there are thankfully many warning signs to help you know which rental listings are best to avoid and which properties are best to back away from if things don’t seem right.

What Are the Warning Signs in the Listing?

One of the easiest telling signs of a potentially scam listing is the price. While it’s always good to be on the lookout for a great deal in your desired location, a low rental price may not be the hidden gem you’re hoping to find. People who are looking to rent for the first time or those who are moving from far away are especially susceptible to rental scams, as they are less likely to be aware of the median rent rates in the area. Be sure to check the average range for rent prices in your target location as well as for your ideal rental property type. Something is likely fishy if a great-looking place is listed far below the local going rate for rent.

Even landlords can make grammatical and spelling mistakes from time to time, but be on high alert if the rental listing’s description has an egregious amount of errors or severe lack of information. A serious landlord or property manager will want to present their rental property in an accurate and professional manner. Therefore, descriptions that seem carelessly written can give a strong indication of the poor quality of the rental property and/or property owner.

Another important warning sign for rental scams is to check if the address in question is listed for sale elsewhere online. If the property is supposed to be a rental, it should not also be listed for sale. There’s always the chance the owner just recently decided to rent rather than sell and hadn’t yet taken down the for sale listing. However, it’s not worth it to take chances. If you’re interested in the rental, contact the owner to see why the property is both listed for rent and for sale. If the landlord gives a roundabout answer or doesn’t even own the property, move on to the next option.

Red Flags to Look Out for When You Do Meet

Whether it’s your first meeting with the landlord or simply your first contact via phone or online, it’s important to be on guard. Quickly turn away from any property owners who ask for personal information or money upfront. While you will need to provide these things later on, they should only occur both after seeing the property and once a contract has been signed. Information such as your bank account’s routing number or your Social Security number should never be asked for or given out during the searching phase, and you should never be asked or agree to wire funds to the landlord.

Two very concerning red flags are if you are unable to even see the rental property or if the owner is unable to be present to show it to you. It is an unfortunately common scam for someone claiming to be the property owner to rent out a home they don’t own. In these cases, it’s likely the “landlord” will suddenly be able to meet and show you the property but will still try to get you to sign a contract immediately. For landlords who live out of state, or even out of the country, there should always be a point of contact such as a property management company. Without one, you should be very suspicious.

Finally, a rushed or exceedingly eager landlord should be cause for concern. A legitimate property owner will make sure to do thorough screening and background checks on all rental applicants. A rental scammer will likely speed through the screening process and will likely be too quick to negotiate terms of the lease in order to seal the deal. Remember that it’s perfectly okay to back out of your interest in renting the property if you feel rushed or pressured.

How to Make Sure the Property Is Legit

Now that we’ve discussed some of the most important warning signs and red flags of potential rental scams, there are three important steps to take to make sure a rental property is legitimate:

 1. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times for each of the warning signs mentioned above. They may not all be present, but even one sign is all it takes to recognize a scammer and walk away.

2. View the property and meet the landlord before making a final decision. Because your rental property will be your home, it’s important to check the quality of both the physical location and the quality of the owner. If either do not meet your expectations, chances are high that something fishy is afoot.

3. Go with your gut. Sometimes everything can seemingly appear decent enough on the surface, but at the same time you can still feel like something just isn’t quite right. It’s a much wiser decision to look for other options than to find yourself stuck in a less than ideal renting situation down the line.

After Your Final Selection

Once you’ve picked a rental property that’s legitimate and meets all of your requirements, the next step is to invest in the right insurance policies to make sure your personal property and finances stay protected. Strassman Insurance offers renters insurance plans that can be suited to fit your individual needs. 

If you are a property owner looking for homeowners insurance or landlord insurance, we have insurance plans to meet your needs, as well. From renters insurance to life insurance and more, Strassman Insurance has a policy to provide the right protection. Contact us to discuss your options.


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