Tips to Dodge Rentals ScamsPublished: November 15, 2023
Guarding Your Home Search: Tips to Dodge Rental Scams
Finding a rental property can be a daunting task, especially if you're new to the area or don't have much experience in the rental market. And unfortunately, rental scams are not uncommon and can happen to anyone.
Scammers often prey on those who are desperate to find a place to live, are new to the area, are first-time renters, or are members of a more vulnerable group. They use various tactics to take advantage of their victims. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and avoid falling victim to a rental scam. In this blog, we will discuss some of the most common rental scams and provide you with tips on how to avoid them:
What is rental fraud?
Rental fraud is when scammers attempt to obtain money from unsuspecting renters through false rental listings and other means. There are a few different forms of rental fraud and rental scams out there, but the City of Edmonton Police sum it up into two main forms:
1. The property is real and exists however, the rental property offered does not belong to the fraudster.
2. The rental property doesn't exist.
What are the most common forms of home rental scams?
False owner rental fraud
A common form of rental fraud is when someone is posing as a landlord or property management company and is trying to rent out an apartment that they do not own. Or, sometimes, there is an actual apartment up for rent, but it is significantly different than the unit advertised, often using fake images.
The RCMP has also identified a scam where someone with access to a home poses as the landlord, hosts showings of the unit, and then rents the unit out to multiple parties. The scammer collects all the money and disappears, leaving multiple people confused and without a home. This is a scam that homeowners must also look out for when hiring a property manager to manage their income property listings.
Rental deposit scams
Another prevalent rental fraud tactic is scammers posting fake units for rent, often copying the information found in an actual listing or making up phony information. The scammers will ask you to send a deposit to hold the unit or secure the tenancy. Usually, these listings lack detail, and the price and location are generally too good to be true. If you ever see 'duplicate' listings on a site with varying contact information and pricing, something fishy is happening. Additionally. if there is a ‘for sale’ sign in any of the exterior images, it's best to stay away.
This form of scam targets people new to Canada or new to the city, students, first-time renters, and those more vulnerable. Scammers will tend to use sites like Craigslist, Kijiji, or Facebook to post their fake listings as they are less regulated and monitored.
How to avoid rental scams
The best rule of thumb is that if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Here are some red flags to watch for to best avoid rental scams:
- Rent is lower than similar units in the area.
- No images of the interior of the home.
- You're asked to send a deposit before signing an agreement.
- You're asked to send a deposit before viewing the home.
- You're asked to send baking information or Social Insurance Number.
- They ask you to wire the money through Western Union or MoneyGram, or ask for payment via gift cards (run far, far away!).
- The landlord is avoiding meeting you in person.
- The landlord's name is not on the rental documents.
- The landlord does not require a credit check, reference check, or proof of income.
A checklist of things to do before sending any money:
1. Go to the address and view the home with the landlord.
2. Ask the landlord to confirm their identity with photo identification.
3. Agree on rent payment methods other than cash.
4. Put everything in writing and ensure each party has a signed copy.
5. Search for a home directly through a reputable property management company.
6. Avoid looking for rentals on forums or advertising websites like Craigslist, Kijiji, or Facebook.
One of the best ways to avoid fraud is by renting a home directly through a property management company, using their website. While there are many reputable renting sites and ILS (internet listings services) sites, they are not immune to fraudulent listings.
On bwalk.com, you can search all of our listings across Canada, book a viewing, and become a resident through our secure resident portal. Don't leave your home, money, and security up to chance.
What to do if you've become a victim of a rental scam
If you believe you've fallen victim to a rental scam, the best thing to do is contact the police and report it. Give them as much information as possible, and try to keep screenshots and proof of all communication and payment transfers. You can also file a complaint with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
You must immediately contact your bank and/or credit card company and log any payments or transfers as fraudulent. This is the main reason to avoid cash, as it would be a lot harder to dispute and prove as fraud. You should also contact and report the listing on the site where you first saw it. Let the publisher know what happened to get the listing taken down. They could also flag the account in case of future fraudulent postings.
Rent securely with Boardwalk
Renting and finding a new place to call home can be overwhelming, particularly if you're on a budget, are new to Canada, are a student, or are a senior citizen. There are many websites and different avenues to explore, which can often lead renters down a rabbit hole where they may fall victim to a rental scam.
Avoiding fraud is easy if you go directly to the source and skip out on the 3rd party listing sites. On bwalk.com, you can easily browse hundreds of buildings in multiple cities across Canada. We are constantly growing and expanding, with new buildings and suites becoming available for rent. Boardwalk offers three different types of living:
These options offer residents varying options based on budget and lifestyle. We aim to provide the perfect rental suite for everyone at every stage of life, from student living to independent senior living and everyone in between.