Rental scams occur when either a potential tenant or property owner misrepresent themselves or the availability of the property. This most commonly occurs when a person pretends to be a property owner or landlord of a property with which they have no connection. This is done to scam people out of money by asking them to sign a lease with a deposit required. Once money has been received, the scammer will cut off all connections with the potential tenant. When looking for rental properties, there are some easy ways to avoid these scams. Below are some tips for ensuring you are dealing with a legitimate landlord:
Avoid Dealing in Cash
When looking at potential rental properties, it is important to check the forms of payment that will be accepted for paying rent. Trustworthy property management companies will have multiple options for monthly lease payments. If a company only accepts cash for payments, this could be a sign that the company is not legitimate. Unless a receipt is given, there is no written record of cash payments. The lack of formal records makes cash payments the choice of scammers. Legitimate property management companies should offer multiple options for payment, with cash being one of those options. A person should investigate further into the company before signing a lease if cash is the only acceptable form of payment.
Always Sign a Lease
When looking to rent a property, a formal lease needs to be signed that defines the expectations for both involved parties. A lease is a written agreement in which a tenant and owner agree to the payment amount, property standards, and length. This document is important for providing a written record of an agreement occurring about the rental of a property. If a property management company wants to operate off of a verbal lease agreement, it is most likely not trustworthy. To avoid scams, a written lease is a necessary part of renting a property.
Check Market Prices
Unusually low rent prices can be a sign that a property is a scam. If a property seems too good to be true, it probably is. When looking at potential rental properties, it is important to check market prices for similar homes. This will give you an accurate estimate of what a fair price for rent would be for a property. A property with a below-market price needs to be investigated further to ensure that it is legitimate. The more information gathered about the property and its pricing of it, the more informed a decision a potential tenant can make.
Conduct an In-Person Tour of the Property
It is important to tour all potential rental properties before making a decision or signing a lease. Many scammers will post a rental property from pictures they found online with the intention of convincing potential tenants that they have the right to renting it. In these situations, the scammer will not have access to the property and will not be able to offer in-person tours. A person should be suspicious if a property management company does not provide the option of touring a home. In-person tours help to ensure that the person listing the property has access and rights to the property.
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