Property rental scams – one would think in this modern day and age, very few people would still fall for any form of online or offline scams; the reality is much starker, though, more people get conned out of their hard-earned money than ever before despite freely available information on how scammers operate.
Stories of homeowners opening their doors to find an unsuspecting family ready to ’move into their new home’ are rife, and this is just one variation of the very many rental property scams.
So, you think you are too smart to get conned into a property scam? You are online, or leafing through local classifieds, searching for a new property to rent, out of desire or need and come across an advertisement that immediately makes you think “this one!”. You reread the advert and see that the property is perfect, perhaps the monthly rental rate is also lower than the average for that particular suburb. The landlord or rental agent that listed the property clearly knows their stuff, their advert’s content wholly does the images justice! You can clearly see the value in this property and the added bonus of a lower rental rate makes you want to jump at the chance to have this property before anyone else can snatch it up.
The next logical step you take is to contact this ‘bogus’ owner or agent, unaware that you are about to be conned out of a lot of money. The person you are now dealing with sends you more images, descriptions of the property and perhaps even mentions having a ready-to-sign contract available to make the whole process move faster for you. While making you feel very important and smart for wanting such an amazing property this bogus agent will probably avoid physically showing you the place at all costs, with a myriad of excuses that could include being out of town, not wanting to disturb the current tenants or even the homeowner.
Knowing how awed you are or perhaps even desperate for this particular house the agent will start subtly pushing you towards paying the deposit and sometimes even the first month’s rent in order to secure your new home. He will offer to hand over the keys to your new home once the deposit has been paid however, this will never happen – he will disappear with your money never to be seen again.
The age-old adage ‘if it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is’ rings very true when it comes to unfolding a rental property scam. Trust your instincts and walk away from the situation if you are uncertain. There may be small tell-tale signs that give you that ‘vibe’, things like feeling that the person you are dealing with is withholding important information from you or even a badly spelt advert could be a dead giveaway that you may be dealing with a con artist instead of a legitimate rental agent or landlord.
Of course, we’re not saying every badly written advert out there is necessarily a con some people really just can’t spell. However, if you feel unsure there are ways to establish if the person you are dealing with is legitimate.
We’ve compiled a few tips for you to consider when doing your property homework to keep you safe and scam-free:
Remember that in any legitimate rental deal, no money changes hands until the tenant has met with the homeowner or the letting agent and the property has been viewed.