Finding a place to rent is a difficult process. Tenants have a lot to keep in mind when finding the perfect place. While considering location, rent price, and a pet policy, an unsuspecting tenant may not ask the most important question: Is this a legitimate property listing? Use these tips to guide your rental search.
Tip #1 – If the Property Seems Too Good to Be True, Then It Probably Is
Scammers often create listings that will attract as many people as possible by creating the ideal listing. Be cautious if the listing offers an unrealistically low rental price with little or no deposit, requires no tenant screening application, or accepts pets, short-term leases, or is furnished for no additional fee.
Tip #2 – Read the Listing Carefully
Numerous spelling and/or grammar errors in the listing could indicate a scam. Also, check to see if the pictures of the property match the description.
If there are no pictures, this is also a red flag. Legitimate landlords are trying to get people interested in the property, so there’s no reason to avoid including pictures in the listing. You can always call the landlord to verify the details of the property.
Tip #3 – Speak with the Landlord or Rental Agent Before Applying to the Property
When you speak with them, you can verify that they are who they say they are and check for inconsistencies in property details. You should be cautious if a landlord or rental agent is refusing to speak with you over the phone.
It’s also good practice to see the property before giving out your personal information to the landlord or rental agent. If you have any concerns about the property, then do not apply.
Tip #4 – See the Property before Sending Money
It is not uncommon for renters to apply or rent a place before ever seeing it, but this practice is risky. Most scammers will come up with a reason or excuse on why they are not able to meet you in person. They may also avoid giving you an address so that you can see the property.
Be wary if the landlord asks you to make a payment and in return, they will mail you the key, send money to a location that is not in the local area of the property that is available, or make a payment to an account that is outside the United States.
Tip #5 – Never Wire Money
There’s just no reason to wire money for a deposit or rent. Wiring money is like sending cash: it is hard to track and you may not be able to get any of it back.
Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to finding your next rental. Remember, always do your research. After all, applying to a rental will require payment and your personal information.