12 Rental Scams You Should Know How to Spot
Sometimes, the signs are so subtle you don’t realize you’re about to lose your shirt—along with the place you wanted to rent.
No dotted line to sign on
A lease protects the renter and the landlord. “It sets out the terms and conditions of the legal relationship, including the term of the lease, and the rights and responsibilities of the parties,” notes Rogala. If the landlord is willing to take your money but doesn’t provide you with a written rental agreement or says there’s no time to review the agreement with a lawyer, it’s not a good sign.
Who did I wire my money to?
Wiring a deposit to a realtor may seem safe—except that realtors are not supposed to receive wires or pass along wire information, according to Samira Tapia, a Realtor at Compass Beverly Hills. “Sometimes someone’s email at the escrow or title company has been hacked. The hackers read the emails to know exactly when to send the wire information to the unsuspecting renter,” she says. “Do not trust any emails that you receive with wire info; call the number you have from your Realtor to confirm wire info, not the phone number in any email you receive,” warns Tapia. Look out for these clear signs you’re about to get hacked.
Don’t get scammed
The bottom line, say the experts, is to trust your gut. Undoubtedly, the safest route for renting is to go through a reputable property management company or use a service like Fireball to investigate the listing on your behalf and ensure you are dealing with a legitimate owner. This is especially true when you have to rent a home sight unseen. Next, read up on these secrets real estate agents aren’t telling you.