You’re just too good to be true
Can’t take my eyes off you
You’d be like heaven to touch
I wanna hold you so much
-Valli Frankie – Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
With rents skyrocketing over the last 2 years, finding a quality rental in your budget has become a full-time job. It has been recently reported by this Harvard study that half of all renters are now spending more that 30% of their income on rent.
In the leasing end of our business, this had led to an increase in the susceptibility of potential renters to scams. Sure, a 3-bedroom house in the Highlands neighborhood for $1000 seems reasonable, right? Even if it doesn’t, prospective renters are falling into the trap of scammed ads. It is imbedded in our American culture to find “the best deal”. The tipping point is reached when even though the situation seems shaky, the deal is too good to pass up, resulting in people making some pretty sweet decisions, like….. sending money to someone you’ve never met…..across the country…without possession of keys.
A scammed ad will, for all intents and purposes, look like a real advertisement from a private landlord. Usually, scammers avoid using logos of companies, but most companies don’t post logos on Craigslist anyway. In the last few years, the scams have proliferated from their infancy on Craigslist, out to Hotpads, Zillow, Trulia, and many other rental sites. Scammers will usually have a story explaining why they cannot meet with tenants personally, and request they go by the rental to see for themselves. Eventually, they will provide an address or bank account info where rent or a deposit can be sent, with the promise of mailing keys, or that a friend will deliver them after rent is received. Always check property records to verify the name of the actual property owner! They could be using a management company, but you can easily verify the validity of those companies.
Scammed ads create a headache for the property owner, the current residents and the prospective tenants. The most damage occurs to the uninformed potential tenant. Sometimes people send money to someone across the country they have never met. Sometimes people believe that someone will send them the keys in the mail. Sometimes the deal IS too good to be true. Sometimes, they can’t take their eyes off of you…..