You don’t have to go through the horrid experience of falling for a rental scam before you understand how they work. This will help you avoid getting cheated when hunting for an apartment/property. Below are some tips from seasoned professionals on ways to spot a scam before it happens.
You should never forget the fact that shady agents and fake real estate practitioners are very dubious and have successfully scammed several people like you. In other words, they are very convincing when dealing with potential tenants. One of the glaring signs to look out for is that before a rental scam, they make it literally impossible for you to inspect the property. Of course, they will come up with several excuses but the end goal is the same – They don’t want you to inspect the apartment/property.
The really smart ones will go as far as telling you that they are out of town, which means they are not physically available to arrange an inspection of the property. In most cases, he/she (scam agent) will ask you to hold on till he/she gets back. This is just a tactic they use to buy time.
Anyone who keeps you away from an apartment/property you intend to rent has rental scam written all over his/her intention. Don’t fall for this trick regardless of the excuse they come up with.
Urgency of Transaction
Be wary of any situation or scenario where you are put under pressure to make a financial commitment way too early; an example is trying to make you pay before an inspection. This is a red flag that gives a rental scam away. Professional agents know that they need to give you time to make an informed decision on whether you want the property or not. Scam agents; also known as ‘419 agents’ in Nigeria are known to stage the rental process in such a way that it puts a lot of urgency on the financial transaction involved.
The biggest hook they throw at unsuspecting victims is that they have received lots of applications and offers from other potential tenants. The goal here is to lure you into making that financial commitment. Once that is done, you are hooked and what follows is merely a familiar plot to nail the coffin of deception that you have unknowingly walked into. Don’t fall for the line of showing your commitment by paying a deposit too early.
No property agent with good intentions asks for payment upfront regardless of how professional they might have come across before pulling that move.
Extremely Cheap Rent
If what you are being asked to pay as rent is way cheaper than the value of what you should have been asked to pay, then this is another sign of a scam. One way to find out the value of an apartment/property is through research. You can check trusted real estate websites to compare prices. Another way to achieve this is through a real estate expert. If the figure still falls below what you should be paying for the apartment, then it is most likely a trap set to lure you in.
No Written Agreement
An agent looking to scam you will either be deliberately clumsy with the written lease or will not make it available to you. When renting an apartment, the only form of agreement you should take seriously is a written one and the reason is simple. A written agreement can always be used as a reference in cases of disagreement and clearly spells out details of what the lease covers.
It is important that the lease identifies who the property owner is. Anyone claiming to represent the interest of the legitimate owner of the home must have a legal document to back this.
Always trust your instinct. If that inner voice or your gut tells you that there is something off about the agent or the property that is being presented to you, you’ll most likely be safer going with that hunch.