Looking for a home to rent or invest in is always an exciting process and the possibilities are endless. However, oftentimes we tend to get carried away as we overlook the red flags and become too trusting in the same process. This lowering of our guard is an opportunity for fraudsters to carry out intricate rental scams, especially when there is a time crunch from the potential tenant’s end.
Your rental experience can turn into a disaster if you are not prepared well or have adequate knowledge about the real estate market. Fortunately, some basic knowledge about these scammers and their subtle ways is a must for everyone who wants to rent a place without falling prey to fraudulent schemes. Rental scams come in all shapes and sizes, but there are a few ways to identify a potential scam and to avoid it successfully, with enough information as your foundation.
- Don’t Send Money Without Meeting and Seeing the Place.
If a landlord makes excuses as to why you cannot see the place you are interested in renting for extended periods of time, it’s a reason to be concerned. They may even ask you to make payments without letting you get an idea of or confirming the specifications of the apartment. Don’t rely on promises or photos alone, and insist on having a look at the place. This is an essential protocol you must follow for every place you seek to rent.
- Do Not Succumb to the Sales Pressure to Make Hasty Decisions.
During the task of searching for and renting a house, be alert for instances where the landlord may want to hurry up the process and even ask for payments upfront that are unaccounted for. This too, is an obvious red flag to look out for and you must cross-check, question and confirm every detail before you make any decisions. Taking your time on a property is crucial to avoid future complications.
- Ask for All Documents, Whether or Not They are Common.
While it’s common to rent a place without a lease, asking for one just to be safe is fairly common and in fact encourages the safeguarding of both the landlord and tenant against rental scams. If a landlord tries to procure money from you without considering that you might want a lease, or denies you one when requested, think twice.
- Insist that the Landlord Meet You, or Hold off Making Payments Till They Do.
It may happen that your landlord might say they are out of the town indefinitely and wont return anytime soon, eventually asking you to make payments immediately without bothering to meet them. In this case, it is important to remember that you are not being paranoid but are well within your rights to insist upon a meeting before you can make a decision on the apartment. It is safer to know who you are doing business with and be certain of their identity and surroundings.
- Avoid Cash Payments, Go Paperless!
Cash payments are often not recorded in order to avoid paying taxes and use them solely for personal gain. You may be asked to pay in cash instead of any digital transaction and they may insist that you do so. Remember that this does not go into any official record and make digital payments that can be served as proof later on.
All in all, the general rule is to trust your instinct. If something feels wrong with a place or the process, or even the whole experience just seems too good to be true, it may be wise not to pursue it or take a closer look into the matter.