Searching for a new apartment can be beyond exhausting. Even with sites like Apartable that make finding a new apartment a better process, it can still be time-consuming and tiring. What makes it even more tiring (and potentially even dangerous) is when you fall victim to an apartment rental scam.
Scammers know that apartment hunters are very vulnerable. Part of the reason for this is that finding the perfect place to live is such an emotional process. This is why scammers look to attack these emotions and use them to their advantage. Taking note of the apartment rental scams discussed below will help you avoid them during your apartment search.
1. You are asked to send money before seeing an apartment. One of the most common rental scams of all, this seems to happen mostly while searching for apartments on Craigslist. You find an apartment that looks great – its photos are excellent, the information is spot-on, and everything seems legit – so you email the landlord. They ask you to send in money for an application fee before coming to see the apartment. Though this could just be a landlord being a ditz, it is usually a sign that the rental ad and the ‘landlord’ is a scam/scammer. There is no reason that you should send money for an application fee before actually having a showing.
2. The landlord seems overly eager to rent the apartment. Of course, it is perfectly natural for a landlord to want to rent out their apartments – it is how they make money – but are they being overeager? Do they waive common application fees or security deposit? Do they fail to ask you for any information that could be used for tenant screening (i.e. your credit score or employment history)? A landlord that is being pushy, one who really wants to rent an apartment to you without doing many of the things that landlords ‘should’ do, could just be looking to scam you.
3. They are asking for too much information online. It happens way more often than you’d probably realize but when responding to apartment advertisements, many people are asked for personal information by the so-called landlord. While a name and phone number is par for the course, you definitely have adequate reason to get suspicious if you are asked for your social security number or bank account number online over the email. Simply put, do not give it to them. They are almost definitely trying to scam you.
At the end of the day, avoiding apartment rental scams is all about keeping your eyes open and remaining cautious. Trust your instinct. Trust your gut. If something feels fishy, it probably is. There are plenty of other apartments out there to choose from. Oh, yeah, and consider using a service like Apartable. They all but eliminate apartment rental scams from their online listings.