Are you getting ready to move out of the house and get your first apartment? Maybe changing jobs and looking for a new rental closer to work? Or simply changing your living quarters? This can be an exciting, and stressful time. Of course you want to find the best deal and get a great place, but be wary of deals too good to be true and always be alert for scams. Everyone wants your money and if you aren’t careful you can become an easy target.
There are several scams currently occurring on online sites such as Craigslist, although scams are in no way limited to Craigslist. Instead of getting into the details of each scam because they keep morphing, lets focus on ways to avoid scams:
- Always do your homework. Know the neighborhoods where you are interested in living. When you find a place you are interested in check and verity who owns the house. Some scammers actually rent you a house that is vacant and they have no connection to. They do their homework so make sure you do yours.
- Do an independent search for a rental companies contact information. Do you know that to online ads are sometimes hijacked? If you find a place online listing a property management service, look up their phone number independently and call that number.
- Know the general rental rates. Research the areas and know what you expect to pay each month. Be skeptical if you find a place available at several hundred dollars below the going rate. Maybe it is a great deal, but maybe its a scam. Some scammers are “looking for a responsible renter to take care of the rental like it is their own” and are willing to take less because of that.Rental properties are businesses and the landlords treat them as such. If it seems too good, it usually is.
- Don’t be too anxious to make the deal. Be aware of the “rental agent” who is looking to close a rental quickly. Maybe they have to leave town and want to close the deal before they leave. Maybe “there are several others who want the same property” and the agent wants you to get it. Take your time. If it is meant to be you’ll get the place. If not, well you may have just saved yourself a bunch of money and hassle, and avoided a common scam.
- Never fill out personal information (social security number, etc) until you have seen the place and are ready to sign paperwork. If you find a prospective place online and the “agent” asks you to fill out paperwork so they can get the process rolling, be careful. This is an easy way to steal your identity. You fill out the paperwork and never hear from them again, until you find your identity has been compromised. That’s when the hassle really begins.
Now that you know some of the indications or a possible scam how can you increase your odds against being scammed? As was mentioned above, do your homework thoroughly, take your time, and be careful. Consider using a property management service such as Real Property Management Tidewater to help find that dream rental. Call them to start your search, don’t just answer an ad online. Not only can you safely find a place to live but you also have a management service available 24/7 for those times when you have an issue needing immediate attention. Following these recommendations will greatly reduce your risk of being scammed and increase the chance of finding a great place to live!