How to Avoid Rental Scams

As the rental market expands to include more and more Single-Family Homes, there is a large learning curve for potential tenants. Previously, when a future resident was looking to move, they would visit a local leasing office, walk a home or an apartment with a designated agent and sit down in person to fill out a paper application. The norm has changed to make it much easier for a tenant to rent an exceptional home from Conrex Property Management. Renting a home from Conrex provides many advantages over renting an apartment--most importantly a larger and more private place to live. However, the recent abundance of rental homes is a relatively new phenomenon and scammers are trying to capitalize on unsuspecting individuals.

Craigslist Rental Scams

 How to avoid rental scams – rental home photo with watermark

Many property Management companies, including Conrex, look for popular ways to advertise their rental homes, one of which historically has been Craigslist. However, Craigslist has become a website that tenants need to be wary of due to rental scams. To combat this, companies have added a watermark to their photos to avoid potential scammers from stealing their photos. Scammers currently look for ads without watermarked photos to copy and repost with false contact information.

How to Spot a Rental Scammer

When a prospect contacts the scammer, the scammer acts as if they are the owner/landlord of the property. The first red flags are the scammers usually will not answer the phone but are willing to text or email the prospective tenant. The scammers then make excuses for not being available to meet the prospect to show them the actual property, but state that the prospect can go by the property at any time and look around the outside and in the windows. The scammer will often require the prospect to send the funds to them through Money Gram or Western Union. Once, the money is received, the scammers disappear.

Another option for scammers is to gain access to the home. They have even been known to break into the home, change the locks and pretend they are the owners of the property. They will even go so far as to present a very basic lease agreement, requiring cash only prior to disappearing, leaving the new tenant illegally in the home and likely to be evicted.

These are items that you do not have to worry about when renting from a reputable property management company like Conrex Property Management.

Tips for Avoiding Home Rental Scams

  • Never produce and/or provide an untraceable payment, like cash. Most landlords require certified payment in the form of a cashier’s check, money order or in some cases a personal check. Make sure to always ask for a receipt.
  • Ask to meet face-to-face with an agent or representative of the landlord. Also investigate the property management company. Do they have a website? Conrex’s website is www.rentconrex.com Is the company or individual listed as a business on Google? Do they have Social Media Accounts?
  • You can also check out the county tax records to find out who owns the home. If the scammer says they are the owner, their name should likely be listed on the GIS as owner of record. Management companies will be happy to provide you with the name of their LLC, which will be listed on the tax records.
  • Don’t be pressured. Be aware that scammers will attempt to get you to sign a lease and hand over a large amount of money on the spot. Legitimate landlords will require for a background check to be completed, a completed application and an application fee (usually around $40-50 per person).

What do you do if you have been scammed?

Contact the local police department. Make sure you can provide them with as much information as possible. Most of the time scammers aren’t even in the same state, making it difficult for them to be prosecuted. However, reporting them to the local police will provide law enforcement with information that can be used to prevent additional scammers from taking advantage of others.