Looking for an apartment should be a fun experience, and perhaps it is to many people. Maybe you’re the type of person who enjoys seeing many different apartments and spaces, taking note of the things you like and the things you don’t, until one day you find the dream place.
You sign the lease agreement and think everything is going fine. However, when it’s time to move in, you find that you’ve been scammed. Although it’s rare for that to happen, rental scams are getting more and more common, and they may put you in danger. Here are some red flags to look for when you go apartment hunting and how you can avoid falling victim.
Identify Actual Listing Photos
If you’ve been perusing Craigslist and other online classified sites to find the perfect deal, you may have seen photos of apartments that looked fishy. One way you can spot suspicious listing photos is if they have an MLS watermark on them. Scammers work by stealing pictures online of homes that are listed for sale and posting them on Craigslist and other ad sites as available rentals. If you see the MLS watermark on the photos, click away.
Take a Tour of the Apartment
You’ve been on Craigslist for hours, and you think you’ve finally found your dream apartment. When you reach out to reply to the ad, you sound excited and eager to see it. Instead, the person who posted the ad offers to rent it to you without getting an application or any background information, and doesn’t offer to show you the place. This is a classic example of a scam. Always make sure you see the apartment before agreeing to move in. Meet the person in question and never give money out without having a personal tour of the property and ensuring that the individual is actually the owner or a representative of the owner.
Work with a Property Management Company
The best way to avoid getting scammed by unscrupulous so-called landlords is to work with a property management company. Property management companies will have lists and photos of all of their available rentals. Working with a property management company offers you legal protection and the convenience of working with professionals when it comes to securing a spot in a great apartment.
Apartment hunting can be tough especially in a challenging housing market. There are unfortunately many dishonest people out there ready to make a quick buck on people who are looking for apartments. You can protect yourself and make a good decision on your home sweet home when you know what to look for on your hunt.
Berify | The Ugly Truth About Craigslist Rental Scams
The Spruce | Avoid Apartment Rental Scams
The Law Offices of Casey D. Shomo | Threats Proliferate: Craigslist Fraud, Theft and Elder Abuse