In recent years, more people are seeking rental units through the Internet. However, individuals often find themselves falling victim to an online scam. Some of the Internet sites commonly associated with rental scams are Craigslist, Trulia, and Zillow. While these websites do their best to eliminate scammers from using their sites, it is important to look for possible signs of a rental scam as well as perform due diligence in the event that a scammer has slipped through the cracks.
Pay Attention to Pricing
If the price of a rental apartment is significantly lower than the fair market value of other properties in the area, then it is likely a fraudulent listing.
Do Not Provide Sensitive Information Over the Internet
If a potential landlord is requesting personal information such as a current home address, social security information, credit card or bank account information, it is likely a scam.
Always See the Property and Speak with the Landlord
Most scammers will not meet a potential renter or show him or her the property. It is important to always see and inspect the property before providing any sort of payment. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), most scammers will make up a myriad of excuses not to show the property and will try to persuade a potential renter into sending funds in the meantime.
Be Aware of Payment Methods
If a rental owner is seeking immediate, automatic, or online payment, it is likely a scam. Even when a potential renter has viewed the property, but the landlord is urging them to quickly send funds for a security deposit or first month’s rent using an online method, it is likely a scam. Commonly, scammers will request payment using Western Union, MoneyGram, and Pre-paid cards. Most often this occurs when a potential renter has not seen a property. Also, it is important to be aware of individuals who only accept cash payment methods. Oftentimes, a scammer will show a potential renter a property, receive the security and first month’s rent in cash and then disappear. In this circumstance, there is no evidence that this person had been paid for rental expenses.
Pay Attention to Rental Agreements
If a landlord refuses to have a rental agreement, it may be a scam. It is important for both parties to have a rental agreement in place in order to protect them in the event an issue arises. However, it is important to perform the appropriate due diligence to make sure that the information provided in the rental agreement along with any terms and conditions are valid. Some scammers will go as far as providing fake rental agreements to potential tenants in order to make it seem like the transaction is legitimate.
Ask to see identification and proof of ownership
Sometimes a scammer will meet with you with a phony lease and pretend to be the owner when they have no interest in the property.
If you have been a victim of a real estate scam, it is important to contact the local authorities to file a complaint, as well as contact the Internet site to inform them of fraudulent users.
To mitigate the risk of falling victim to a real estate scam, it is important to contact an experienced Long Island real estate lawyer who can help guide you through the rental process and protect your legal rights.
If you are being evicted even though you have a lease, contact our offices immediately!
The Long Island real estate lawyers of McGuire, Peláez & Bennett, PC are sensitive to your needs, skilled in handling real estate matters, and will fight zealously for your rights. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact our Central Islip real estate lawyers at (631) 348-1702 or fill out our contact form.