How to Avoid Apartment Rental Scams

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One of the last things on your mind when searching for your next apartment is probably rental scams. Emotions run high when apartment hunting, making apartment seekers potential victims for scammers. For example, you may be very eager to find your next apartment and fall into a rental scam because of your eagerness to find the perfect apartment to rent. There are many ways that scammers try to take advantage of those looking to rent an apartment; keep these things in mind when you are looking.

What are Apartment Rental Scams?

In the most basic sense, Apartment rental scams are someone trying to get money out of a potential tenant for an apartment that they have no legal right to be renting out. While there may or may not be a real apartment involved, the scammer is not in a position to rent the apartment out and is only trying to take your money. In some cases, the scammer might even be an actual landlord but more likely will be trying to impersonate one. One way that someone might run a scam is a tenant who is leaving their apartment and then shows the unit as though they are the landlord collecting people’s fees and security deposits and then disappearing by the time anyone realizes they have been scammed. Watch out for these common warning signs of an apartment rental scam.

Don’t Send Money Without Seeing the Apartment or Meeting the Landlord

Sending money for something you have never seen sounds stupid, but a surprising number of people fall for this rental scam. Don’t send any money to a prospective landlord unless you have seen the place and met the landlord. While application fees of $25 are an everyday occurrence, you should be very suspicious if you are asked to pay anything else before seeing the place or signing a lease.

The Landlord is too Eager to Rent the Apartment

While no landlord wants to have a vacant apartment, you could be wary if a potential landlord seems a bit too eager to rent an apartment to you. Usually, renters will have to undergo a thorough background and credit check. If your potential landlord overlooks this and just wants to rent the apartment right away, this is a sign you should get out of there and find a different place. Even if it is not a scam, do you want to be living next to people who have not had a background check?

Too Many Fees or Too Big of Deposit

If the landlord has many upfront fees or is requiring an unusually large security deposit, this could be a sign that they will take your money and not rent you the apartment. While there are fees associated with renting an apartment, too many fees or too large of fees should be a red flag to you.

You’re Told You Don’t Need a Lawyer

You probably would never have a lawyer look over your lease anyway, but if a prospective landlord tells you that you don’t need a lawyer or anything to look it over, this should be cause for concern. While the landlord may be trying to rush you into signing a lease and paying because they don’t have the apartment to rent to you, there could be things hidden in the lease you don’t want even if there is actually an apartment for rent. If they say you don’t need a lawyer, you are for sure going to need a lawyer.

You Don’t Need a Lease

There is no law saying that you need a lease to rent an apartment and there are some month-to-month options that don’t include a lease, but it is suspicious if the landlord is the one saying you don’t need a lease. After all, a lease helps to protect both parties in a rental agreement.

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