Nowadays, with all things virtual, all access remoteless, and all things digital its become easier for scam artists to lurk behind the computer with the sole intent to mislead, decieve and possibly de-fraud unsuspecting victims.
The trip from being an unsuspecting victim, to a more conscious shopper when looking for your perfect abode is quite easy if you are alert and avoid the common pit falls. This is not a bullet proof approach to avoid scams but its definately a tried and tested approach that will prevent grief , and most importantly preserve your hard earned money.
Lower than market rental rate - if you are searching for a rental in a well known " urban ,chic, fun, attractive, happening" part of town and your budget is similar to the one you'd have going into a " dollar store" you may run into fraudsters. To avoid this remember this phrase " if its too good to be true, then it is not true". There is no landlord giving manna of an all inclusive rental rate in a prime spot for less than its value.
Longer than usual email response - If you are a landlord, a landlord's agent or even a realtor, you must be familiar with getting responses from prospective tenants. But the key difference here is not every prospective tenant is a "real" tenant and a good way to spot this is - recieving a 3-4 paragraph story asking for your payment terms, where to wire you payment in advance etc. To avoid this remember this logic- an average tenant browses multiple rental ads per day as such hardly have time to write an epistol to each prospective rental they are interested in.
Email only responses - If you see a rental ad asking for only email responses, its not necessarily a red flag unless its accompained by these other "giveaways" - you are unable to call to confirm the appt. you made to see the unit, you are unable to speak with a "real person" nor are you able to confirm their identity a good ole asking for a form of photo ID. To avoid this potential waste of time, remember to do a simple "google search" on the email address , cause often with scammers, the victim stories leave a trail.
Cash only transactions - #1 rule in contract law, never enter into a contract where the only acceptable payment method is CASH. This rule applies to both tenants and landlords, as it does take 2 to tango, and i'd say even if you are offered a reduced price for paying in cash the 1st and last month's rent. Please do not let the "bargain hunter" in you lead you to the road of no refunds, no merchandise, worse yet no rental unit. To avoid this possibility, remember to read up on the landlord's tenants board FAQ section, and always ask for a receipt.
Asking for a deposit to reserve the unit - Desperation does place folks in compromising situations but don't let this happen to you. To often, we hear stories where 1 unit has been rented out to 2 or more people simultaneously and you wonder how it happened ? its because some " con artist" asked for a deposit and some "ignorant" tenant gave in to their demands, with little or no questions asked. To avoid this pitfall ask yourself this question when next some stranger asks for money upfront before delivering the product, service or lease agreement " If all you had to do was deposit funds to reserve a unit, why isn't everyone doing it"?
If nothing else, i hope the above scenarios equip you to be a better shopper when looking for the next rental abode plus i hope it reduces the number of " con'ers" out there trying to put the honest, hardworking folks outta business. But if you'd rather not figure all this out on your own, be wise and call zerovacancygal to lend you hand.
Afterall , that's why we manage properties with head and heart.
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