Rental Scams have become a common phenomenon these days with several tenants falling victims to apartment rental scams or a fake landlord scams every other day. Recently, I came across a news report at Myfoxphilly.com that speaks of an unscrupulous landlord who has duped several prospective tenants by luring them to sign false rental agreement for the same property. The prospective tenants have claimed paying thousands of dollars to the landlord as security deposits that he did not pay back for a house.
In order to avoid rental scams, tenants should be careful and follow certain measures to avoid such scams. The number of rental scams is multiplying by leaps and bounds in real estate market. This article would focus on few guidelines that a tenant should follow in order to avoid getting scammed by dishonest landlords.
1) Read your documents: Never pay a security deposit before signing the rental agreement. If you have rented before, you can hopefully recognize some of the features of your standard lease (name of landlord, payment terms, late fee, rules,etc), and you should inspect your documentation to see if it looks legitimate.
2) Check out the Property in person: Checking out the rental property if you can; because you may never get back your money, if it is a scam. If you can drive by the property, then you can see if there is a rental sign in front of the property and this number matches the online advertisement contact numbers. Also, make sure that you check with the people in the neighborhood to confirm who owns the property.
3) Check if property ownership information matches online: Ensure that the property you are renting is a legitimate rental property. The increasing number of foreclosures has encouraged the scammers to rent out properties that do not belong to them. Thus, before renting a house, spare some time to do an online investigation on the landlord and see if the name of the owner matches the party that you are contacting. Additionally, usually property records will indicate potential mailing addresses , then you can use that to identify irregularities, if any. The online records may indicate a ownership by the bank, so it may help identify that the landlord no longer owns the home.
4) If it sounds too good to be true,then it probably is: It is not an easy task to identify a rental scam. Often times, we as consumers or tenants get attracted to the astounding offers, attractive prices, and great deals that we open ourselves up to being fooled by the scammers. One way to check is google the address and check the local real estate association sites and see if the property is listed on other sites for different prices, listed as a short sale, pre-foreclosure sale, or other contact information may differ. It maybe that the scammers are find their potential target properties by scanning other real estate listing and co-opting them for their purposes. In the case of this landlord in Philly, you may find out that the bank has listed the property for sale or short sale, and the owner or former owner did not have the right to lease it out again.
These are few important tips for tenants so that they can avoid being scammed by landlords. Therefore, as future tenants you should always be vigilant to avoid scammers and keep these guidelines in mind next time you look out for a rental property. It also helps to work with licensed real estate brokerages and property managers as they are governed and monitored by state regulatory agencies, so it does provide some level of comfort that you are working with legitimate parties.
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