Avoiding Rental Scams

Attention housing seekers! Scammers are taking advantage of this unprecedented housing market and are looking to steal from you. Make sure you don't pay application fees, security deposits, or rent to fraudulent criminals claiming to be landlords by keeping the following red flags in mind:

  • They don’t want to meet you in person. If they want to mail you keys or are always out of town, that is a red flag.
  • They ask for rent or a security deposit before signing a lease or before showing you a property.
  • You have seen the same listing with a different contact/owner on another site. If this is the case, one of two owners is most likely a fraud.
  • They want you to wire money: Venmo, PayPal, and Zelle might be red flags. Even if you end up sending them money with Venmo, try asking if they accept money order first.
  • They want you to move in immediately without showing you the property.
  • The price is just too good.
  • The listing has typos, poor grammar, or excessive punctuation.
  • There is no screening process.
  • They want you to sign an incomplete lease, for example there is no owner mentioned on the lease.
  • Phantom rentals: sometimes the listed property doesn’t even exist. Driving by the address is a best practice to make sure the property does exist, but you should still try to meet the person and tour the place before signing anything. Talking to current residents or neighbors is also a good idea.
  • Expensive background checks: background checks should not be more than $30-$60 per person. Anything widely outside that range is a red flag.

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