When you are looking to rent an apartment or a single family house in Phoenix these days, you need to be aware of scam artists. Scammers have many ways of finding victims such as placing fake rental ads on websites such as Craigslist for properties they don’t even own. Avoiding rental scams is possible by following your instincts and a few simple rules.
Don’t pay a deposit before signing the lease
Scammers are only interested in getting money from you. Legitimate landlords and property managers don’t ask for money upfront. Instead, they ask you to fill out an application to learn about your employment and rental history. Scammers try to rush you through the process, even asking for a deposit before you even see the place or sign a lease. Real landlords want to know who will be living in their properties.
It’s important to check that the person renting out the property has the legal right to do so. If you are renting a house, you want to check the country records to find the name of the homeowner. You also want to make certain the house is not in foreclosure or has other issues that would interfere with you renting and living in the property. As for apartments, many leases forbid subleasing, so it’s always best to rent an apartment from the owner or the rental manager of the property.
Many scammers ask for cash deposits or wire transfers. This should send up a red flag depending on the situation. If you choose to pay cash, be certain to get a receipt as soon as you hand over the cash.
Other scammers sometimes offer very low rent to entice people to pay a deposit to hold the apartment for them. Anyone who wants a deposit of any kind before you sign the lease is probably a fraud.
Ask to see the inside of the property
When renting any property, it’s important to ask questions. If the person showing you the rental is reluctant to answer your questions or doesn’t seem to know the answers, this may indicate you’re not dealing with the right person. Also, if you are expected to rent an apartment based on photographs or floor plans instead of viewing the actual rental, that is a strong indication that they person doesn’t have access to the property or the right to represent it.
Avoiding rental scams will save you money, time, and frustration. Remember, if you’re asked for money before seeing the inside of the property or signing a lease, this is not standard operating procedure for legitimate landlords or property management companies. You just need to take your time and be alert to any red flags.