When it comes to online scams, it is a common misconception that the main targets are older generations, preyed on for being seemingly less tech-savvy and vigilant than millennials. It may surprise many that younger people are equally, if not more, vulnerable to being scammed online. And in terms of rental scams specifically, younger generations seem to suffer the most.
Millennials are 42% more likely to have lost money due to rental fraud. About 9.1% of younger renters have lost money from a rental scam, compared to 6.4 % of all renters.
To help you avoid becoming another victim of rental scammers, here are 10 red flags to keep an eye out for!
When searching for a new place to rent, you should learn what the average market rent is in your area. If you come across a unit with an unusual price (usually too low), it could be a rental scam. To avoid being cheated out of your money, research median prices for different apartment sizes on sites like ApartmentList.
If a person posting a listing doesn’t detail the features of the property, this is a big red flag. They may also offer a low price and pressure you to pay upfront without giving you details like the address or photos. As millennials with access to online maps at your fingertips, make sure to Google the location, visit it in person, or check it out on other rental websites.
Bad grammar doesn’t necessarily make a listing fake. However, it should make you suspicious. Often, serious landlords and property managers will take their time and make sure to write a decent listing. When you spot excessive grammatical errors, proceed with caution.
A common tactic of rental scams is when a person that listed a property tells you that they are traveling and can’t show you the unit. They may even offer to lower your rent for your trouble, making the offer even more enticing. As a rule, do not sign a rental agreement before seeing the property with your own eyes.
Never provide any money to a landlord until both parties sign a legally binding lease agreement. That includes a security deposit, reservation fee, or first month’s rent.
Professional landlords almost always have a screening process to ensure they choose quality tenants. Remember, a landlord should be just as concerned about you as a tenant as you are about them as a potential landlord. If a landlord does not require a rental application, background check, or credit check, it’s a big red flag.
Landlords usually have a pre-written lease agreement available for you to sign, and any legitimate landlord will want you to sign a legally binding contract. It could be a rental scam if you find yourself dealing with someone who seems reluctant to provide a lease agreement, especially if it comes with payment requests.
If you think you’re going to miss out on a nice place, the landlord might convince you to move in quickly. However, if you feel like you’re being rushed into a new space quicker than usual, it is more than likely a rental scam. This typically works on millennials who are in a rush to find a new place. You shouldn’t feel any need to make a quick decision on a rental until you’re confident!
Make sure to read through the whole lease before signing. Make sure that there are no blank spaces, vague writing, or incomplete sentences. By doing so, you’re making sure that a manipulated lease cannot cause harm in the future.
If a listing offering great amenities for a low price in a popular location stays on a website for more than a month, proceed with caution. Some rental scammers make money by collecting application fees on a fake listing or without any intention to rent out the unit.