Tips for Avoiding Apartment Rental Scams

If you’re looking for an apartment to rent, be forewarned that there are scammers out there waiting to take your money and leave you with no place to stay. Here are three tips to remember.

No sight-unseen rentals

If the landlord won’t let you visit the apartment before you agree to rent it and hand over money, walk away. Zero exceptions for any excuse they give, including overseas travel or missionary work. Scammers will pull photos of legitimate rental properties from the internet and post them as their own, then try to convince people to send them money to rent a property that is not theirs. At the very least, you need to make sure the landlord has access to the apartment (and make sure it’s not a dump).

First the contract, then the payment

As soon as a landlord wants you to make an upfront payment, before you’ve checked out the property in person and signed a lease agreement, something is not right. That’s your cue to walk away and report the listing as fraudulent.

There are a couple ways to pay, and several ways not to

A legitimate landlord is going to accept payment by check. There are some who might be set up to accept payment by credit card or electronic checks. The key with these forms of payment is that they are traceable. If a landlord wants you to wire money, pay in cash, or load up gift cards, once again something not-completely-legit is happening.