So since the housing collapse it is no secret that a single family’s or individuals with lower income have leaned toward renting versus buying. As a renter, it is important for you to be just as savvy as a new home owner, and help yourself to avoid a rental scam. We have lined up some of the best tips in the industry so you can stay away from those who out there to advantage of you.
Tip 1: Make sure the potential landlord actually owns the property. This is important if you are planning on renting a house from an individual. You can obtain such records from the local County Assessor’s office. When looking at the record, make sure there are no Notices of Default (NOD) or a notice of a trustee sale issued.
Tip 2: Always us caution. If you think a price is “to good to be true,”it probably is. The best advice here is to “Google” search the listing because a legitimate landlord will post their rental on multiple sites. The key is to see if there are multiple property listings for that rental, and if the dollar amounts are the same. If there are large differences in rent amount, it could be a scam.
Tip 3: A good landlord will be concerned about your goals to own a home, and about the rental needs of your family. An unconscious landlord, and one just trying to take your money, will not care about any of that. If money seems like a higher priority than anything else, that might be a sign of fraud.
Tip 4: You can never ask too many questions – Where do I send my rent money? If I need a plumber who do I call? Who can I contact if you are on vacation or out of town? Any exerienced landlord will have immediate answers to these questions.
Tip 5: Other Red Flags:
- “Owner” is traveling or working outside of the U.S. and will send you the key
- Payment is first priority – Cashier’s Check, FEDEX, Western Union, etc.
- Payment of deposit or first month’s rent is requested BEFORE you see the property or sign a lease
- Price seems surprisingly low for the home offered and the area
Fraud can also be reported to your local law enforcement authority, to the Federal Trade Commission, and to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357) or www.ftc.gov
Internet Crime Complaint Center www.ic3.gov
Are you looking to buy your first home? Check out our blog about not buying real estate in the dark. Also, download our free buyers guide, to help you understand the buying process.