What are Some Examples of Rental Scams and How Can I Avoid Them?

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If you are looking for a place to rent either as your desired home for living or you are going on holiday, you may run into potential scammers who will try to trick you into believing they are genuine renters and collect on your first payment without actually providing you a place to stay. We will describe some of the most common rental scams you might encounter and provide you with advice on how to avoid getting tricked.

Types of Rental Scams

Scammers will use many different methods to try and catch you out and get your money. It pays off to be aware of these scammers when looking for a property online. There are a few different ways these scammers will try to get to you.

  • First, scammers will use photos from real properties and post them on rental websites with their phone number and email address. They will then make some kind of excuse for not being able to show you the property like being out of the country for work or being ill. Then without ever actually seeing the property the will ask you for first month’s rent upfront and will send whatever additional information like extra photos and a set of keys to try and convince you to pay.
  • Scammers might also rent a home themselves and then advertise the place they rent as a  property available for rent. This way they can show potential tenants around the apartment because they live there. Then they will ask for the money upfront again and might provide you with fake keys that will not get you into the rental property, and disappear.
  • Scammers might also use rental scams as a way of getting copies of important documents like your identification and social security. They can use this information to commit identity fraud.

Holiday Rental Scams

Holiday rental scams may be harder to detect since the property is likely in another country and you may not be able to tour the property in person before going on holiday. Because of this you should be extra careful when looking for a holiday property to rent.

When listing properties for rent as a holiday home scammers will usually post listings with real photos of real properties. The scammer will claim that demand for the property is very high and might demand that you pay a deposit now to secure the property for yourself. After that the scammer will cease all communication, and you may even find out the accommodation never even existed in the first place.

A key thing to look out for with holiday rental scams is if the scammer asks you to pay for the property by money transfer outside of the booking website. This is a huge red flag and provides you with no fall back if something goes wrong, and you should avoid this no matter what.

How to Avoid Rental Scams

Sometimes these scams can be hard to notice, and if you are renting a property for the first time either as a home or a holiday property you might be intimidated by the risk of fraud. But, if you are careful you should be okay, so long as you keep in mind the following pieces of advice on how to spot a scam.

  • Rent is too good to be true
  • You should always see the home in person especially if you are looking for a home. Make the landlord give you a full tour of the property
  • Look out for multiple grammar mistakes and inconsistent information in the listing
  • Double check the address on google maps to make sure it exists
  • Make sure you pay through a holiday booking agent’s secure website if you are looking for a holiday property
  • Ensure that a tenant agreement exists and that the keys you are provided with actually work
  • Take as much time to do as much research as possible. Renting a property can be stressful, but because of how much money can be involved it is important to make sure you take the time to get it right