Renters BEWARE!

The other day my colleague received a phone call from a young women inquiring about a rental property. She had paid a $700 deposit to “save” her spot, and now was unable to get in touch with the landlord to view the property. Thinking she may have the contact information wrong, she googled the address to try and find a property manager’s phone number but instead, found a FOR SALE listing for the condo.

My colleague had the unfortunate job of telling her that she had been scammed out of her $700 and was unlikely to get it back. This is happening more and more in our area. 

Scammers are now stealing realtor’s photos for condos, homes, etc., and posting them on sites like Kijiji and Craig’s List as rental properties. The fake landlord says they are too busy for a showing, but that the interested renter can pay the deposit to hold their spot on the property. Once the deposit has been sent, they disappear and are unable to be contacted.

To ensure this does not happen to you, here are a few tips to make your rental search as smooth as possible:

1. Don’t put money on a place you haven’t physically been in. If the landlord cannot find the time to show you the property, a Red Flag should go up. 

2. Google the address or do a reverse photo search. If a Realtor’s website comes up, that should be another red flag. If no Realtor’s website comes up, read reviews on the building, management company, etc. to see how they operate their properties.

3. Read the writing – before you sign ANY type of contract or lease, you should always read the fine print and ask yourself some important questions:

a. Is this how much I agreed to pay?

b. What are the terms for breaking a lease if I need to?

c. Are there any terms in the lease agreement that I don’t agree with?

Remember, don’t sign anything you are not comfortable with.

4. Keep all communication in writing, or if not possible, keep a log of your communication so you can refer back to it. Remember, renting an apartment is a contractual, business relationship and you need to treat it like one.

5. Document your apartment with photos – before moving your personal possessions into the apartment, take photo documentation of how your new place looks – are there dings in the walls, stains on the carpet, etc.? Keep these photos for when you move out, so you can prove that you did not cause the damage to the unit.

6. Know your rights. There are specific laws that landlords must abide by (and laws that renters need to abide by). Educate yourself on what those items are at