Prevent An Apartment Rental Scam


The average apartment hunter is not worrying about rental scams, but you should still be aware, nonetheless. Due to high-running emotions amid the apartment seeking process, probable tenants make great victims for scammers. For example, if you are too eager to find your next apartment, your emotions can be used against you by scammers to make you a rental scam victim. Scammers use many tactics to prey on apartment searchers. Below is a list of rules to protect yourself against scammers when looking at your next apartment.

What is an Apartment Rental Scam?

Simply put, an apartment rental scam (or scammer) is someone attempting to make a profit off a potential tenant with an apartment unit that the scammer has no legal right to be leasing. Sometimes a real apartment unit is involved, however sometimes there is not. The scammer does not have the authority to rent out the apartment and only has a goal of stealing your money. There have been instances where the scammer is a real landlord, but usually the scammer is only trying to impersonate one. A commonly practiced scam is a tenant moving out of their apartment giving an open house of the unit to possible future renters. The scammer will pretend to be the landlord, collect fees and security deposits before disappearing without a trace. By the time any of the possible future renters realize they have been scammed, it is too late. Watch out for these frequent warning signs of an apartment rental scam.

Don’t Give Any Money Without Seeing the Apartment or Meeting the Landlord

It would seem like common sense not to send money for something you have never seen, but common sense is not common! Too many people fall for this rental scam. Never send any money to a proposed landlord unless you have toured the unit and met the landlord. While an application fee of twenty-five dollars is standard, be greatly skeptical if you are asked to pay any other charges or fees before seeing the apartment or signing a rental agreement.

The Landlord is Too Excited to Have the Unit Rented

Every landlord wants all their units occupied; however it is okay to be uncertain of a landlord that appears too excited to rent a unit to you. It is common practice for tenants to be required to pass a detailed background and credit check. If the landlord skips these steps to rent the apartment as soon as possible, this is a red flag. You should politely excuse yourself, get out of there, and find somewhere else to live. It may not even be a scam; however, do you want to be neighbors with someone who has not undergone background check?

Weird Fees, Too Many Fees, or Unreasonably Large Security Deposit

If the landlord a bunch of random fees to pay right away, or is requiring an unruly large security deposit, this is a warning sign that they will steal your money and not rent you the apartment unit. While there are fees associated with leasing an apartment, too many fees or too large of fees should be a clear indicator to you that something is wrong.

You’re Told You Don’t Need a Lawyer

Most renters never have a lawyer look over their lease anyways, but if a landlord tells you straight up, “you don’t need a lawyer or anything to look it over,” you should have some serious reservations about being this landlord’s tenant. With this scam, the “landlord” is rushing you to sign the lease and paying because they don’t have the apartment unit to rent to you. If there is a unit to rent you, the landlord could have hidden clauses in the fine print of the lease they don’t want you to know. If they say, “you don’t need a lawyer,” you will most definitely need to get a lawyer.

You Don’t Need a Lease

There is no law stating that landlords and tenants need a lease to rent an apartment. There are month-to-month agreements that do not have a lease. If the landlord says you do not need a lease, something fishy is afoot. A lease protects both the tenant and landlord in a rental agreement, so why would a responsible landlord not want to have their unit and themselves covered? It just does not add up.

Share the Knowledge

Get the latest tips first!

Subscribe to our newsletter with stories from our latest apartment hacks

Accessibility Tools