There are so many apartment rental scams out there today that it can be hard to keep up with all of them. Knowing this can make the process of finding your next apartment rental relatively daunting and leave you wondering who you can trust. If you feel like you might be dealing with a scammer, don’t panic just yet. Read ahead to learn some of the red flags to look for that will help you to avoid falling for apartment rental scams.
Avoid Questionable Rental Platforms
When looking for an apartment rental, the first place you’ll probably head is the internet. While the web can be a helpful place to find concrete leads, it can also be a minefield of scammers. When you are searching online rental platforms avoid questionable websites, such as Craigslist, or others that post classifieds. According to a study entitled, ‘Understanding Craigslist Rental Scams’, over a period of 141 days, approximately 29,000 rental scams were found through 20 cities being monitored.
Don’t Deal in Cash
Any landlord that’s asks you to pay them in cash should be questioned through and through. Refuse to pay any portion of your first, last or security deposit in cash, and opt instead for traceable items like checks or credit cards. A shady landlord will likely stop returning your calls as soon as you insist on paying in anything other than cash.
Tour the Property
It’s incredibly easy to copy and paste pictures of legitimate rentals from one site to another. Any time you are considering an apartment rental online, insist on touring the property before you sign anything or send any amount of money. If the landlord comes up with excuses as to why they can’t meet you, you’re probably being scammed.
Research the Property Owner
Make sure that you get the name of whoever you are speaking with in regards to your apartment rental. Then, search the property records to ensure that this is, indeed, the property owner’s name. If it isn’t, that could be a big red flag!
Meet Your Landlord Face to Face
Much like it is important to see the property, it is equally important to meet your landlord in person rather than completing your transaction strictly online. If your prospective landlord has a whole bunch of reasons he/she cannot meet you face to face, you could be dealing with a scammer.
Sign a Written Lease
Never enter into a verbal agreement when it comes to leasing an apartment rental! Even if you think you know the person you are dealing with, you should always have a written agreement signed by both parties and notarized by a third party. As you review your written lease, make sure that the property owner’s name is listed on the lease and have it checked by a real estate lawyer who can point out any discrepancies.
Ask Neighbors for Feedback
If you feel like you might be dealing with a potential scammer, go visit the property and knock on a few doors or hang out in the common area of the apartment community and wait for passerby. Ask them if have any knowledge of the landlord and his/her dealings with previous renters. Sometimes a little insider information is all you need to avoid a scam!
Make Sure the Landlord Has Requirements
Any legitimate landlord is going to have a certain set of requirements before they will lease their apartment rental to you. If you aren’t being asked to pay a security deposit, agree to a background check or submit to a credit check, there’s a very good chance you are being scammed.
If it Seems Too Good to Be True…
Well, it probably is! If the asking price for your apartment rental is way below market price or the amenities offered seem a bit over the top for the area you are in, you will certainly want to question the legitimacy of the transaction.
Work With a Reputable Agent
The very best way to avoid apartment rental scams is to work with an industry professional who you know and trust. A skilled agent will do all of the footwork for you and work hard to represent your best interests and keep you away from scammers and properties that fail to deliver on their promises. They will also have teams in place to check and re-check the validity of lease terms and be able to help you negotiate the best terms for your situation.
Are You Looking for an Apartment Rental in Hattiesburg or the Surrounding Areas?
If you’re in the Hattiesburg area and in need of a new apartment rental, Hattiesburg Apartments should be your very first stop. Since 1980, we’ve worked diligently to provide our local clients with top-notch, trustworthy service and pair them with the perfect properties for their particular situations. Avoid scammers altogether and work with the best! Check out our database of available apartments today and reach out to get started!