Articles Property Renter Guide 5 Signs that A Rental Listing is A Scam

5 Signs that A Rental Listing is A Scam

Do not fall victim to fraud, especially when it comes to rental property listings, by taking note of these 5 signs.

Like with anything online, rental property listings can be made fraudulent by scammers. The main goal of these scams is to take your security deposits or application fees without having the intention of renting you the property — if the property even exists at all.

Property renters need to be able to distinguish between a legitimate rental listing and a fraudulent rental listing. Here are 5 signs that a listing can be a scam.

1. When the landlord does not allow you to inspect the property in person.

A property listing already raises a red flag when the landlord does not want to meet you or let you see the property in person. Although 3D property walkthroughs are getting more common in online listings, it’s still best practice to visit the place and meet the owner or agent in person so that you’d know what to expect should you choose to rent.

Given the current COVID-19 restrictions in place that discourage face-to-face meetups, the least you can do is digitally meet up with the landlord or agent and request an online real-time video walkthrough of the property. With that, you’ll still be able to see the interiors of the property and have the added benefit of knowing that the listing is legitimate before making a decision.

2. When they want you to pay the security deposit in cash or gift certificates even before signing a lease.

For condominium units, landlords will often request you to pay for the security deposit and submit your monthly cheques for your length of stay once the leasing contract has been finalized and signed. However, for other properties or room rentals, a monthly payment in cash aside from the security deposit can be a more suitable arrangement.

If your landlord asks you to pay in cash — or even in gift certificates — even before presenting the leasing contract, then that would most likely be a scam. Always remember that payments shall be settled once the contract has been signed; unless there are application fees that need to be paid.

In the most probable circumstance that you have to settle your transaction online, make sure to have met with the landlord or agent digitally; and that they can provide you with video walkthroughs of the property or accommodate your questions and requests with ease.

3. When the landlord wants you to move in without signing a lease.

Rentals often have leasing contracts between the landlord and tenant, especially for condominium units. In case your landlord or agent wants you to move into the property without signing a contract, then that listing is most likely to be a fraud. As much as you urgently need a place to stay, make sure that you have a contract with the landlord that can protect you. It is also better if they provide you with proof of ownership of the property. With that, you can be at ease knowing that you are legally renting the property and not trespassing.

4. When the price is too good to be true.

When looking for a property to rent, make sure that the listing price matches the property listed. In case the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is. More often than not, low listing prices for high-end properties are used to lure prospective renters to lease. And once they take the bait, the price suddenly switches to the actual rental price, which is most likely to be higher than what’s listed.

It is best to do some research on the usual rates for specific neighborhoods or properties under certain developments. You can determine the acceptable rental rates by checking the market value of the property as well as other factors that can contribute to the price such as location and available amenities.

5. When the rental listing is full of errors.

Legitimate property listings are carefully made,  with complete details and well-curated photos. If you happen to view a rental listing that is full of grammatical errors, typos, excessive punctuation marks, and emojis, then that is most likely to be created by a scammer.

Bear in mind that serious landlords or agents will take the time to create a proper listing that looks professional. To learn more on how a listing should look, check our property listings here.

Kylie Versoza viewing listings on the PropertyAccess website.

What should you do when you come across a fraudulent listing?

If you’ve determined that a listing is fraudulent, report it to the property portal it is listed in. This is to make sure that nobody will fall victim to this rental scam.

Make sure to view property listings on trusted websites (like PropertyAccess!)  that verify them before posting so that you won’t have to fall for any rental scams. It is also important to check whether the listed property exists. Always strive to make informed decisions, especially when it comes to property rentals and property investments.