I am sure that you’ve heard the stories of people getting scammed (both renters and owners of rental properties). How can you tell the good guys from the bad guys? Nationally there have been renters who have lost thousands of dollars because they wired money to someone they thought was the owner. That money is gone. Also, renters have scammed owners and moved into vacant homes so that the owner had to evict people who got into the house with an electronic lockbox. Those costs are lost time in a vacancy on top of the expense to evict squatters. There are ways to improve your chances of having things go well from both an owner’s and a renter’s perspectives.
Here are tips for both owners and renters to avoid being scammed:
Put a watermark on every picture of the property that is online. (We use our company website URL. You could use your email address as a watermark. See photo above for an example)
Place flyers in a stand in the kitchen giving your name, contact information and your screening criteria.
Put a professionally made For Rent sign in the front yard (preferably not the ones from the local hardware store.
If you are using electronic lockboxes for showings install a Nest system or some type of camera at the front door.
If the price for rent seems too good to be true it is probably a scam.
Google the property address online to see where else it is being marketed. You should see the same house on different sites but for the SAME PRICE
When you go to the house to view the property LOOK. Look for a sign in the yard or a sign in the window. Compare the phone number on the sign with the phone number you have been using for the contact on this house. If they are not the same you are probably being scammed.
Craig’s list is the most “usual” place for scammers to advertise. If the advertisement OR the contact for the house talks about the owners being out of the country helping orphans or some such story as that I can almost guarantee you that that is a SCAM.
If the ad is written in somewhat “weird” English then it is most likely a scam
Example: “I have an important Issus I will like to discuss with you and your family. This will be for mutual benefit for both of us as I will like us to work together in securing my interest which I am sure ready to work with you if only you will be willing to assist me on this”
NEVER give your personal info over the phone.
NEVER text your personal info to someone you do not KNOW.
All professional landlords should have an application that you complete.
Never wire money to an account.
Look for a watermark on the photos (a URL or email address etc.) it should match who you are communicating with
Be mindful of details and not too “starry eyed” when it comes to leasing your house or leasing a house.
About the Author: Kandy Meehan, President of Home Rental Services leasing homes all over the Greater Kansas City area. Kandy has served as President of the local chapter of NARPM (National Association of Residential Property Managers). She has also chaired the National Affiliate Committee for NARPM and served on the Long Range Planning Committee at the national level of NARPM.