These days, rental scams don’t just affect families looking for a new home or apartment. Property owners can be the victims of scams as well, potentially losing thousands on their rental lots. If you rent or plan on renting your home, it’s important that you keep yourself up-to-date with the latest tactics that scammers are using. Here are some of the most common scams targeting homeowners who are trying to rent out their property.
Falsified Financial Documents
One of the most common (and oldest) scams in the book is lying about personal information. Prospective tenants may falsify information about their rental history, their employment, their salary, and other important information. Luckily, it’s easy to verify information such as this with a quick call to their bank or boss. You should also make sure to run a credit check to get a feel for their history of fiscal responsibility.
When renting a larger property, scammers will sometimes lease spare rooms and collect a monthly fee to supplement their income. While the practice of illegal subletting may not seem like a big deal, it can lead to financial and legal troubles down the road. You can’t screen who is living in your property, which can create safety issues for everybody involved, and it’s nearly impossible to tell if a tenant is profiting off of the exchange. You should make sure to monitor your properties for unauthorized inhabitants and check sites such as Airbnb and Craigslist for offers on your property.
Property managers who accept checks as a form of rent need to be wary of tenants who try to pay more than the agreed-upon monthly amount. If a scammer pays more by check and then demands a refund, they can cancel the check after the fact and pocket the cash. It’s very difficult to fix this sort of financial mistake, so the best thing you can do is to avoid it altogether by ensuring that all checks are made out for the right amount.
Online Email Scams
Email scams are similar to writing fake checks, and it’s become increasingly popular with the advent of Craigslist. Scammers contact property owners via email, often from another country, expressing interest in a property for rent. They will often use an intermediary to deliver a down payment, which is made out to be a bigger sum than requested. Once you wire the difference back, the scammer cancels the check. This type of property scam is even harder to trace than falsified checks, but luckily, it’s easy to spot with a bit of common sense.
Before renting your property to a new tenant, it's essential that you verify their information to ensure that you aren't getting scammed. Armed with the right knowledge, you can avoid making mistakes down the road that could cost you thousands.