Scams that Target Renters: Avoid these Rental Scams
Rental scams have been around for decades, and sadly, they don’t appear to be going anywhere. Here are some of the most common scams that target renters.
Landlord Foreclosure Scams
If an owner has failed to make his payments, is served with a foreclosure notice and has vacated the property, he is expected to surrender the right to rent the property out. But out of desperation or spite, some resort to scamming unsuspecting renters instead. The landlord foreclosure scam involves renting the home out, pocketing the deposit and first month’s rent, and skipping town before anyone notices.
This leaves the bank to deal with the new renter, who is often asked to leave because there is no lease that the lender will honor. It doesn’t matter where the bank is located; they will find out that the tenant is not the owner when the sheriff knocks on the door, thinking he is going to evict the owner. He will contact the bank, and because there is no lease and their client is gone, they will evict whoever is living on the property.
Fake Landlord Scams
This rental scam long pre-dates the housing crisis. It involves con men assuming “ownership” of seemingly abandoned homes, advertising them for rent and collecting rent from the new tenants for as long as they can. Many times, homes that are owned by out-of-state landlords are the most vulnerable real estate properties for this kind of activity. As is the case with all rental scams, the occupants will eventually be evicted, whether or not they knew anything about the scam. Many of these types of scams are rampant on websites like Craigslist. To search for properties for sale and rent that are less likely to have scams, visit your local real estate broker’s website.
The Slumlord Scam
This one is also as old as time. When a property is flagged for building code violations, including those pertaining to the safety of tenants, the tenants do not always necessarily know about it. Often, they are told by county officials who come to inspect the property. They may end up being evicted, all because their landlord did not want to pay for repairs to the building. This rental scam is most common in urban apartment complexes, but it can happen anywhere.
The best way to avoid any of these rental scams is to find your home through a qualified real estate broker who has experience in Property Management. Management companies usually verify ownership of the properties they manage, so it’s more than likely that you’d be safe renting from them. They keep records of all transactions and all documents relating to the property, so if a problem ever arose, you’d be guaranteed to have copies of everything. While there’s nothing wrong renting from a good owner, property management companies can frequently give you better and/or faster service than a regular landlord.