Avoiding Rental Scams 101

Our mission...

is to empower independent landlords to create welcoming rental experiences through positive interactions with their tenants.

The rental experience begins the moment a landlord decides to fill a vacancy and a renter starts their rental search. Often, the early stages of the rental process are when rental scams are most viable.

At TurboTenant, we are dedicated to protecting both landlords and renters from rental scams – a situation that is never positive for anyone.

How does TurboTenant help you avoid rental scams? Here are a handful of our anti-fraud processes:

  • Verify TurboTenant listings before marketing them online
  • Utilize machine learning to help identify fraudulent listings
  • Education on rental housing scams and more
  • Partnering with industry leaders such as Stripe and Plaid to keep payment information private

Learn how to protect yourself today using our landlord and renter tips below.

Rental Scam Tips For Landlords:

  • Be very cautious of potential tenants who…
    • are willing to rent your property without seeing it in person or completing a video tour first
    • say they are out of the country and want to send a cashier’s check
    • provide an initial payment that is more than the agreed-upon price
    • try to instill a sense of urgency
  • Always screen tenants to check their credit history, criminal background, and eviction history
  • Never accept a check that is over the agreed-upon amount. Do not deposit it, and return it immediately
  • Make your screening criteria public to help ward off scammers
  • Follow up with references
  • Verify employment

Rental Scam Tips For Renters:

  • Be very cautious of landlords or rental agents who…
    • come up with a reason or excuse on why they are not able to meet you in person
    • refuse to speak with you over the phone
    • ask you to make a payment, and in return, they will mail you the keys
    • ask you to send money to a location that is not in the local area of the property that is available
    • ask you to make a payment to an account that is outside the United States
  • Be very cautious if the property seems “too-good-to-be-true” – it probably is.  The following should be a red flag for scams:
    • an unrealistically low rental price
    • little or no deposit
    • accepts pets, short-term leases, or is furnished for no additional fee
    • requires no tenant screening or application
  • Be wary if the rental listing contains numerous spelling and/or grammar errors
  • Always physically see the property and/or meet the landlord or rental agent before sending any money
  • Always speak to the landlord before applying and paying the rental application fee
  • Never (ever) wire money. This is a sure sign that you are encountering a scam. Wired money cannot be retrieved, just like cash

Reporting Rental Scams

If you are aware of a rental listing or other rental scam, you can report it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Or, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission.

If you suspect or are aware that a rental listing posted on TurboTenant is a scam, please click the “Report Listing” link on the listing page or email us the details at: [email protected].

For more information on using the TurboTenant website, please visit our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Learn even more about how rental listing scams work here.