How to avoid becoming a victim of fraudsters when renting housing in the US
Most people dream of finding a very good deal on rental housing. But often very lucrative offers turn out to be fraudulent. Trulia collected 5 tips, how to determine what they are trying to deceive you.
1. Fake real estate agent services
If you are offered for a small fee to show a list of real estate objects that are rented at a bargain price, then most likely this is fraud. Usually scammers ask for a small fee of up to 200 dollars. The list provided usually contains real estate properties with fake addresses or expired rents.
2. Ask for money before show apartment
Usually, homeowners do not ask for payment in advance before showing the property, even in the presence of high competition. Just remember that when viewing an object you don’t have to ask for money. If this happens, then just leave.
Sometimes scammers ask you to transfer money by money transfer. This can also signal the danger of deception. It is impossible to stop a payment by bank transfer, unlike payment by check or credit card.
3. Copied ad
Sometimes scammers steal property rental advertisements and lower the price. This is done in order to arouse great interest among people and ask them to pay a security deposit.
This maneuver usually works with people who are busy or live outside the city where they plan to rent a house, and they are ready to make an advance payment in order to secure an apartment. It is worth paying special attention if the security deposit is too high. Fraudsters working on this scheme, as soon as possible strive to make a lot of money.
If you live outside the city where you plan to rent a house, then do a research. Check the address on the Internet and make sure that this accommodation is not in the other lists. You can even contact the town hall to make sure that you have the correct contacts of the intended landlord.
4. Refuses to meet
If the landlord says that he is outside the country, is ill or for some other reason cannot meet with you, but still wants to receive a security deposit, then this is most likely a fraudulent scheme.
As a rule, in this case, you want to pass the property that belongs to the bank, or is a country holiday home, or is empty for any other reason. Regardless of the circumstances, the legal landlord or property manager will be ready to find someone who will show you the property.
On the subject: How to terminate the rental agreement without penalty
5. Hold a deposit
Fraud can be encountered at the end of the rental period. If, when leaving, the property owner begins to doubt your security deposit, take this seriously. The landlord may say that he will send you a check in the mail, but he will never be sent, or they will say that they need a security deposit to cover the losses, even if you left your home in perfect condition.
It's illegal. A good idea is to take a picture of the apartment upon entering and leaving to prove that you left it in good condition. If the deposit is not returned, send a return request by registered mail. If this does not work, then you can file a lawsuit in a minor court case.
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