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  • Writer's pictureEmma Ellis, REALTOR

How To Avoid Rental Scams

The search for a new home is an exciting time, but it’s also one that requires caution. Unfortunately, rental scams are a real concern. This guide aims to equip you with the knowledge and tools to protect yourself from fraudulent schemes while searching for your new home.

Common Signs of a Rental Scam

  1. Too Good to Be True: Extremely low rent for a property is often a red flag, especially when these homes are listed on marketplace of in Facebook groups.

  2. Pressure Tactics: Scammers will often pressure you to make quick decisions, like making an upfront deposit without seeing the property.

  3. No Showings Available: The "landlord" is unable or unwilling to show you the property in person.

  4. Lack of Verification: Scammers won’t ask for background checks or go through the standard tenant verification processes.

  5. Upfront Payments: Be wary of requests for upfront payments in cash, wire transfers, or gift cards.

Tips to Avoid Rental Scams

Verify Property Ownership

Check property tax records to ensure the person you're dealing with is the legitimate owner of the property. Many cities and counties make this information available online. 

Use a Trusted Platform

Stick to reputable websites and apps for your search, such as a multiple listing service (like here!) . These platforms often have security measures in place to identify and remove fraudulent listings.

Meet in Person

Always try to meet the landlord or a property management company's representative in person, and ask to see the property before making any commitments.

Don’t Pay Cash

Never pay cash for deposits or rent. Use checks or digital payments that can be traced and verified.

Research the Landlord

Do an internet search on the landlord or property management company to make sure they have a good reputation. If the property is being professionally managed, you can validate the management company by searching them on google and call them using the phone number listed online. 

Ask Questions

Ask about the terms of the lease, how maintenance requests are handled, and who to contact for emergencies. Legitimate landlords should be able to provide detailed answers.

Review Lease Documents

Ensure that lease agreements are thorough and contain terms that are in accordance with state laws. Consult with a legal expert if you're unsure.

If You Suspect a Scam

Report it to your local authorities and contact the platform where you found the listing. Your report could prevent others from becoming victims.

Wishing you a safe and successful home search. If you ever decide to make the transition from renting to owning, I am here to guide you through the process.

Best wishes,

Emma Ellis, REALTOR®

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