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Three Rental Scams to Avoid

Scams abound on the Internet, preying on unsuspecting people. We hear sad stories of victims with the reporter warning the public to beware. Rental scams can happen with tenants and landlords alike.

1. Beware of the Landlord Who Will Give You His Shirt

Crooks will pretend they are landlords offering incredible incentives to rent a property that does not exist. Advertising on Craigslist, the scammer will convince you that background checks and security deposits are not necessary if you send a money order for the first and last month’s rent. When you arrive at the property, you find an empty field and the money is gone.

How to Protect Yourself

Craigslist reports that 99% of these scams can be prevented simply by a personal inspection of the property before making a payment.

2. Tennant Incentive: Move-in Today at an Extremely Low Price

This rental scam is a favorite by tenants who are moving out of a property. They have the keys and pass themselves off as owners. They show the unit and state they must leave town, needing to rent the place immediately. When money changes hands, they disappear. It becomes ugly when the rightful owner demands immediate eviction.

How to Protect Yourself

This is a difficult situation since it is a natural set up. But if it sounds too good to be true, be on alert. The only option is to check the county property assessment office. The information is public and will list the name of the owner of the property, allowing you to call the owner to verify the rental agreement.

3. Landlords: Renter Delayed Payment Scam

Sweet talking tenants expose owners of property to this common rental scam. A check will bounce and an apology is offered with a new check. When it bounces again, a partial payment is offered. Tears will flow, and the landlord feels compassionate towards the tenant. Next thing you know, the landlord is bilked out of cash.

How to Protect Yourself

If a tenant’s check bounces, demand a cashier’s check or cash for the rent and bank charges for processing a bad check. Follow the conditions set out in the lease, with no exceptions.

Both owners and renters alike must beware of anything that sounds too good to be true.

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