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How to Spot Rental Scam Listings

By in Lease or Rent with 0 Comments

Almost every rental search begins with scouring through online rental listings, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. With the increase in online rental searches has come a number of rental scams wither orchestrated by complete scammers or untrustworthy landlords using less than reputable methods to secure a renter for a low-quality property.

Here are some red flags to look out for while you are looking at online rental listings:

Listing Photos Have an MLS Watermark

If you see the letters MLS subtly printed anywhere on the photos, be cautious. This could mean the poster grabbed some photos of a property listed for sale on the MLS. Photos with an MLS watermark were taken when a property was listed on the real estate market for sale.

Scammers will copy listings almost word for word and change the contact information to a different email, phone number, and website. They will even use actual rental listings and change information going as far as to make a renter believe they are ready to move into the property only to find out they were never really speaking with the actual landlord when they get there.

Details About the Property are Vague

Not every rental listing, and even some home sale listings for that matter, are well written. If a listing seems off on communicating even the basic details, or the wording doesn’t make sense, it is most likely because the person that created the listing has never been to the property in the pictures. Oftentimes these listings will leave out the exact address of the property in hopes a potential renter will not spot the issue. For example, the map doesn’t show an exact pinpoint, just a big circle of an area.

The Contact is Reluctant to Show the Property

If you use the contact information on the listing and the person on the other end does not offer a time for you to come and look at the rental or offer options for a virtual tour, this is a huge red flag indicating a scam.

Willing to Rent with No Renter Information

If the landlord does not care about looking at factors to determine how responsible of a renter you are, this is a big red flag. A great landlord is going to be looking for a renter they know they can rely on to make rent payments and take care of their property by looking for things that would back that up. They will ask for proof of financial stability and personal and professional references to get a better idea of how responsible you are. If a landlord isn’t interested in who you are and only wants you to hand over money and sign your name, think twice before sending that security deposit.

They are Currently Out of the Country

Some scammers will tell you they cannot meet with you in person, and the most common reason they use for this is that they are out of the country right now. They may even sell it further by sending an agent in their place.

The Rental Charge is Really Good

If you are looking at rentals in a specific neighborhood and you find one that is around a hundred dollars or less per month it is a big warning sign. This most often is a rental that doesn’t exist. Sometimes it can be a scam to get you in and then the rent goes up later in hopes you don’t notice.

They Ask for Money to be Wired or Sent

If there is a request for you to send the security deposit or first month’s rent especially by wire, this is a clear sign of a scam. Once this money is collected there is no way to trace it or get it back.

Things You Can do to Help Prevent a Scam

Do Homework on the Landlord: a simple web search on the name of the landlord will help to find if they are a credible person in the area, or if the name is an actual real name at all.

Verify the Address: This will give you solid evidence that the property you are planning to rent is actually the property offered in the listing.

Look at Street Views on Maps: When you pull up the property on a map as part of verifying the address make sure to check out the street views of the property. Look to make sure the photo on the map view matches the exterior view in the listing.

Go to the Rental: Actually go to see the rental in person. Doing so will also allow you to look at the real condition of the property. It will help you get a feel for the neighbors and neighborhood as well.

Meet in Person: most scammers are unwilling to meet you in person.

Contact me below for more information on luxury lease options in LA or to list your home as a luxury lease.

Luis Pezzini

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