It’s best to pick a listing with multiple positive reviews. 14. Never, under any circumstances, send money to anyone without securing a lease and confirming the property manager has legal right to rent the property. If they say that the property is a gift or a surprise for someone else, make sure you have the names and contact details for the entire booking party. If you receive a booking request that exhibits several red flags, use caution. Check if the telephone number is disconnected or unusable. Be careful out there, the last thing you want is to fall for one of these rental scams and be out a few thousand dollars. It’s fine if the landlord doesn’t live near their rental home, but a legitimate landlord should have a local property manager showing the property on their behalf. Visit the rental property in person and check the landlord’s ID. Look up the address online. Services offering to generate a list of pre-foreclosure or rent-to-own rental properties for clients are another type of rental scam. Back Learn more, .subnav-back-arrow-st0{fill:none;stroke:#0074E4;stroke-linecap:round;} Is the property managed by an established villa management company who does the cleaning or meet and greet? If it is, you might want to ask the owner why it’s for sale as well as for rent. You can usually do a simple search on who owns the property by looking up city records. Some of the landlords will be actually happy to provide you with good references and sometimes you’ll have to make a small research of your own to find this information out. If you wish to report an issue or seek an accommodation, please, Zillow, Inc. has a real estate brokerage license in multiple states. Rental listing scams typically aim to steal money. The best rule of thumb is to trust your instincts. They will try to get you to send a check for a security deposit or move-in fee without ever seeing the apartment. I'm thinking of renting a vacation home in Kissimmee, FL. Unfortunately, many times these scammers are outside of the US and it is very difficult to get your money back. Protect yourself by knowing what to look for. Or that the “landlord” never owned the house to begin with. Only look for suitable properties on reputable property portals like Private Property or … Some states, including California, require landlords to inform renters when this happens. This is done through a background check combined with a phone call verification. Always make sure the person renting out the home is the owner or the property manager. Return to Be careful when you see a rental that is way under market rate. Check that the guest’s name and email correspond to one another. If this is not consistent with the person who you’re communicating with AND they represent themselves as “the landlord”, you should assume there is something a miss. If the rental listing's photos sport a watermark – which is used to identify the owner of the photo – look closely. How Can You Tell If a Rental Listing is a Scam? Check the land registry to confirm the property’s owner – using the government’s land registry service, you can quickly make a check about the property’s real owner’s name. If you are a renter, how can you protect yourself from falling for a rental scam? Search their email address online and see if anything fishy comes up. Conduct Online Searches Before paying a deposit, do some research on your chosen property and its owner. Listings that seem too good to be true are likely to be scams. Be aware of the following things when contacting them via email. Below are some renter tips to help avoid rental scams. Phantom Rentals. They keep your money and have no intention of renting a unit to you. Be sure to keep copies of all communications between you and the possible scammer. Is this standard policy? Conduct an online search for the owner's name, the property address, images of the property and, if possible, who owns the rental website and who pays the property taxes. The easiest way to find the Rent Zestimate is by typing the property address into Zillow. Some scammers, though, will ask for an exorbitant amount of money, saying that’s how much they need from you in order to cover the cost of a background check. If pictures are pulled from a For Sale property or you see the property is advertised elsewhere for market rate, the one you are interested in may be a scam. The scammer will scout a property which has been sitting empty for a period of time – either the owners are not based in the country or away on a trip. Scammers often prey on first-time apartment renters, long-distance movers and those who aren’t internet savvy. Ask the landlord if the property is in foreclosure or going into foreclosure. A Guide for New Landlords, Understanding Landlord Harassment: What You Need to Know. If you spot a possible rental scam you should contact the website that published the listing. They say they are traveling abroad and can’t show you the property but can send you keys. Top five red flags Demonstrates a poor grasp of … Walk away if the person advertising the home doesn't have possession of the keys. Keep in mind that the scammer could also hack a landlord’s or property manager’s email address as well making them appear credible. Avoid working with anyone who will not meet you in person to see the property. If a property has no reviews or several damning ones, it’s best to stay away. You can also conduct a search on the telephone number and the email address to see what kind of results come up. There is no need for that information in the search process. If it is too good to be true, it probably is. Below are the warning signs that a listing is a scam: 1. While there are landlords who buy houses out of state and use them for income, it’s safer to make sure you have a local contact like a property management company to ensure that you aren’t being swindled. If you think you have been scammed, you can contact the FTC and file a complaint with them. How can you tell a dream rental from a nightmare scam? Ask for their details so you can verify the rental. Zillow Group is committed to ensuring digital accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Talk to the owner on the phone - get a feel for who they are. For instance, if you're feeling excitement and enthusiasm about finding a new home, your eagerness might make you become more trusting. Make sure the listing isn’t too good to be true If there are currently tenants leasing the property, try to speak to them as well and compare the answers you have received to those given to you by the landlord/rental agent. Browse local listings to get a sense of typical rents prices for the area, and keep copies of all your communication with the landlord or property manager. Never pay for a deposit in cash. If a property management firm is handling rentals in the building, check out Yelp ratings of the firm. To help this from happening to anyone else, you should also flag the property and have the rental search site take the listing off. Have questions about buying, selling or renting during COVID-19? Vacation Home Rental Scam: How It Works (with video below) Some vacation home rentals are truly phenomenal, but beware of the newest trap: the Vacation Rentals By Owner or For Rent by Owner scam!Imagine this: You are ready to have the vacation of your dreams and, hoping to save some money, look for rental properties in the city you are going to. OTOH, someone with a post-office box/ business address could be entirely legit. The Listing Photos Have an MLS Watermark. Their goal is to get your money before you find out. You can verify the employer’s identity on LinkedIn and by researching the company. Please seek the services of a legal, accounting or real estate professional prior to any real estate transaction. Scam artists also prey on apartment hunters who are in a time crunch (because of a job relocation or personal issue, for example) and are desperate to find a new place as soon as possible. It is for information purposes only, and any links provided are for the user's convenience. How can I check if a vacation rental from is legit? Be careful when you see a rental that is way under market rate. Look up the address online. Prospective tenants can search and verify landlord details for free on the RentProfile website, such as property ownership or the last digits of a landlord’s bank account. 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