Moving to a new town, city or country can be both an exciting and stressful time. Between packing your belongings, and finding the perfect home or apartment, it is essential to know how to avoid rental scams in Toronto. With popular directories and websites such as Craigslist , Kijiji, and even Facebook making it easier to find a new home, it has also made it easier too for scammers to find new victims to defraud.
With the advent of new technology, the landlord-tenant relationship has become more virtual and anonymous. This shift has allowed for a wide variety of positive opportunities, as well as new opportunities for rental scams.
Our team at Listatto has compiled a comprehensive list of tips to help you distinguish between a rental scam and a legitimate listing, and how you can avoid rental scams in Toronto.
What is a Rental Scam?
A rental scam aims to take your money with the false promise of a rental property. In today’s competitive real-estate and rental climate, it may feel like a race to sign a lease. However, before you sign any papers, you must verify the authenticity of the landlord and property in question.
The most straightforward rental scam involves individuals copying legitimate rental adds and re- posting them with their contact information. As a result, when a potential tenant contacts the individual listed, they may be asked to pay a deposit to reserve the rental, even without having first seen the property. Once the rental scammer receives the money from the tenant, they disappear.
Rental scammers also charge many potential tenants with fees for paperwork such as background checks, only to run off with the money. With a typical price for a background check of around $50, which can be charged to tens or hundreds of potential renters, the thief can end up with a substantial sum.
However, the most complex scams involve those who have access to the apartment or house. The area for ‘rent’ might be under foreclosure, and the rental scammer breaks in, changes the locks and is now showing the building to potential renters.
Although the majority of rental properties on the market are legitimate, it is vital to be aware of the potential risks and to take notice of any red flags. When you’re ready to rent an apartment or home in Toronto, sign-up at listatto.com/register to get in touch with our experienced listing agents. We’ll help you avoid rental scams in Toronto and help you find the perfect place to call home.
Signs of Rental Scam in Toronto:
• They won’t meet you in person They won’t let you see the property
• Its price is too reasonable to be true
• The landlord seems overeager
• They won’t show you a lease, or the lease seems sketchy
• They ask for your financial information
• They ask you to wire money
How to Avoid Rental Scams in Toronto?
Spotting and preventing the most sophisticated and complex scams can be difficult, but the following tips will help minimize your risk.
Meet the Landlord In-Person
Typically, scammers do not want to meet you in person. By avoiding face-to-face interaction, the scammer is unidentifiable and has a higher chance of getting away with your money after convincing you to rent the property.
When renting in Toronto, it is beneficial for both the landlord and tenant to meet in-person. By doing so, your landlord will be able to ensure that you are the type of tenant they are comfortable renting to, and you will have the opportunity to gather information on them and the property.
Never Deal in Cash or Wire Transfers
Scammers often ask for security deposits of the first months’ rent up-front, and will often request cash. This difficult-to-trace form of payment allows scammers to run off with your money. Furthermore, wiring money to landlords is the equivalent of sending cash as once you’ve sent it, there is no way of getting it back.
Always Schedule a Showing to View the Property
Although tempting given the competitive nature of the real estate industry, you must visit the property before signing any papers or, most importantly, paying. If individuals ask for a deposit before the viewing of the property, you are likely dealing with a rental scammer. Viewing the apartment or home helps prevent fraud and ensures that the tenant is aware of the condition of the unit. You must visit the property in-person to ensure the legitimacy of the property and landlord.
Be Aware of Market Rates
Be aware of any surprising deals offered at far below Toronto’s real-estate market rent; this may be a clear sign of a scam.
What Should You Do if You Are a Victim of Rental Scam?
Call the Police
You must inform your local law enforcement that you have been scammed. The information you supply may help apprehend the rental scammer and have your money returned, or allow the authorities to inform the public and prevent further rental scams.
Get in Touch With The Publisher of the Ad
If you’ve found the property rental advertisement in a newspaper or magazine, find the appropriate contact information and describe in detail what happened and that you have contacted the police. Publishers will often follow up by asking other readers if they’ve had similar experiences, which helps law enforcement build a case and track down rental scammers