Friday, October 11, 2013

Watch out for rental scams!

I read this article about the dozen families that have nowhere to live because of a rental scam.

I've had about half a dozen people call me saying our ads were posted on Craigslist or some other site for half the true rental price, payable to a landlord who clearly wasn't me. 

Sadly, twice I've gotten teary angry calls saying they had rented my place and given someone the security deposit. It's a lot of money to lose and often saved up funds, hard to replace.

My tips to avoid rental scam:

Most effective is to put a 'For Rent' sign in the window with your phone number. Potential renters will drive by to check out the house and area. They will realize the discrepancy and hopefully call your number.

This is rough but a little common sense goes a long way. Is it plausible that a 4 bedroom house would be $1200? (whatever low price is being used to lure you in) In a 1% vacancy market you aren't going to be the one to get that crazy deal.

Always ask to see the inside of the house, don't send money without doing so.  I know in this case the owner may have been involved - that makes it really difficult. If you are moving to a town have a proxy look.

Ninety nine percent of landlords charge one month's rent as the security deposit UNLESS it's a huge apartment complex ie Boardwalk or Midwest. Low security deposits are a huge red flag!

If a "landlord" says I'm leaving tomorrow and you just have to send the money now - RUN. Typically if they were leaving they'd have a property management company manage the rental. The odd owner may go away and rent out his house but I would use extreme caution.

1 comment:

Richard C. Lambert said...

We had to wait at his shop for a while, and then a cab driver picked us and drove us the remaining hour and a half to Córdoba. I felt bad for our Airbnb people who had been waiting for us for several hours. They were really nice despite our tardiness and even walked us to Kebab place for dinner. Houston Sound System