The first place most people look for rental properties is on the internet: an easily accessible mass marketplace of houses, flats, condos and any and all things rent related. The exposure a rental property gains from an online listing on the right websites can result in a plentiful bounty of good leads, but simply posting an ad for a rental creates opportunity for scammers to market your rental and detract prospective tenants away from the real listing.
Scammers have many tricks when it comes to scamming listings, from duplicating ads and pictures with a false name and number attached, to pasting pictures in ads that showcase properties that don’t even exist. Often scammers advertise unreasonably low prices to generate interest, then miss showings and ask for wired money, or promise to send the keys in the mail. Many variations of such scams can occur, but luckily there are ways to spot untrustworthy rental property ads.
Hints that an ad may be scammed:
- The rent seems too low, or the property seems like an unbelievably good deal
- The “owner” cannot speak via the phone, or he/she is overseas or otherwise unable to meet
- you for a showing
- There are numerous careless misspellings throughout the listing
- Whoever is renting out the property is adamant about quickly closing the deal
Never rent a property without seeing it or sending a trustworthy alternate to check out the property for you. Most reputable companies and actual owners require and urge all applicants to attend a showing before filling out an application.
When it comes to listing your property, it’s nearly impossible to prevent someone from scamming your ad. However, there are things you can do to limit said fraudulent activity:
- Pay attention to inquiries you receive from your listing and re-state the advertised amounts you listed. This will help you find out if there are duplicates of your listing with altered details.
- Think about hiring a property management company, even if just to help get your property rented. Seeing a reputable company name with an easily verifiable phone number attached to a property listing will signal to prospects that the ad is authentic.
- Search the net for your listing(s) and report any phony ads to the appropriate contact
- Remember that the easier it is to create an account on a website, the easier it is to scam any of the listings.