The best way to protect yourself from rental scams is to meet face to face. It’s equally important to be aware of red flags that fraudsters dangle at unsuspecting renters.
If you value the money you work hard for ( I know you do) and want to protect yourself from perplexing rental scams it’s time to get informed. One of the worst decisions we can make in life is signing something we don’t know anything about.
The days of searching for a rental via print media are far less than they were 20 years ago since most people take to the internet for rental property listings. Even though word of mouth is top-notch in the rental community even then you must keep your guard up. By now everyone should know that letting your guard down when it comes to doing business online may come back to haunt you.
Parents, if you have a young adult new to the rental scene pass along this vital information about rental scams so they’re protected. Most often students moving away for University and College looking for student housing get stung along with those who post wanted ads on social media or websites such as Kijiji. Mrs. CBB got caught up in a rental scam which I will talk about a little further down.
What are rental scams?
Rental scams are all about making money from unsuspecting renters who do little to no homework on the property, property company or landlord. This means that those of you who walk in blind to a rental agreement might find out that you just sent money to rental scammers who took you for a ride. Don’t be this person.
Most often the person whom the renter is in contact with has no claim to the property being offered to rent. If when you do visit the rental property and you see there are tenants who are currently renting take that opportunity to ask them questions. You may want to ask your landlord for a few minutes alone with the current tenants if they are fine to speak with you.
- Introduce the landlord by saying, “Bob/Sally is taking us on a tour of the apartment, room, house so I hope we don’t bother you or inconvenience you”. This is only to get the landlords name across and see if you get any reaction from the current tenant. If they have given you fake names you will know right there and then or you can privately ask the current tenant questions.
- Is the building or property maintained?
- How is the landlord to communicate with?
- Costs for utilities each month? This is to make sure what the landlord tells you and what actually is are two in the same.
- Any concerns I need to know about? Should I walk away?
- Is the apartment, room or building quiet?
Come up with questions you want answers for and if they can’t provide them to you, walk away.
What is a lease or tenancy agreement?
Whether you are a first time renter or not it’s important to understand what a lease or tenancy agreement is before you sign on the dotted line. Too often we put faith in those we hand our money over to without doing our homework.
A lease (also called a tenancy agreement) is a legal contract between a landlord and tenant, in which the tenant agrees to pay rent to live in a rental unit provided by the landlord. It can be written or verbal and may also reference services and facilities that are included in the rent (such as utilities or parking), plus any rules tenants are required to follow. Source:Standard Lease Template
Consultation by the Ontario Ministry of Housing has ended on what seems to be a Standard Lease Template for Landlords and tenants to use when entering into a rental agreement. Personally, I think this is great news because there are so many leases out there that people simply don’t understand which results in far too many rental disputes.
Like many I agree that the lease agreement must include simple terms and be modified as needed by the ministry. When and If the standard lease template releases it may just help with controlling rental scams.
The standard lease template will have four sections:
A. Mandatory information
B. Additional information
C. Optional terms
D. Rights, responsibilities and prohibited conditions
Rental Scams affect everyone
Whether you’re looking for student housing, room rentals, house rental, basement rental, apartment rental and the list goes on you must be on high alert for rental scams. The one thing most people fail to recognize is that rental scams affect everyone directly involved because it takes up time dealing with something that shouldn’t be happening. It may even cost them money out-of-pocket to hire a lawyer or deal with scam situations.
Before you say yes to renting do some basic research and Google the apartment or house you plan to rent. Don’t be shy to Google the landlords name, business name for online reviews and so on. You might be shocked to find information about your potential landlord especially if he’s not the owner of the property and has scammed others before.
If it’s too good to be true it probably is even when renting. If you have a budget of $500 to rent a room and you know that the going rate is $500 and you’re offered a room rental for $200 take that as a red flag. It may not be but certainly do some digging. Knowing the current market value for renting is a sure way to know you are getting what you pay for.
Sample Rental Scam Reply
Below is a sample rental scam reply that I found over at Rentboard.ca where you can find even more samples and tips on rental scams in Canada. Although you will read the email is targeting the USA this sample may be very similar to those you get in Canada.
The idea is to understand what a scam email looks like and what a real one looks like. If it’s real then meet in person, full-stop. Deal with your local real estate market and if you must rent blindly at least find someone in the area who you trust (family or friend) that can do a rental visit along with the landlord and yourself via Skype.
Thanks for your email and interest in my property,my name is Jhirmaine while my wife’s name is Josphine,i work as a Paralegal Assistant for the United States Government.I just moved down to the States with my family for about two months now and we will be staying here in Kentucky while my wife works as a nurse here as well.We love it here and hope to settle down here in the nearest future.we came here to the States with the keys and documents of the property because we never intended to rent out the property,but we thought about our property being unused will cause lots of damage to it,so we decided to rent it out to someone capable of taking care of it while we are away.All we care about is someone to take very good care of it with passion of it being it’s own.A colleague of mine introduced me to this internet site of advertisement. I want to be convinced you are capable enough to taking care of our property for us? We don’t want it to be used anyhow,i want you to get back to me on how you will be taking care of the place or perhaps the experience you have in your previous places of living or lived.I want you to note that all utilities are included in the rent.I look forward to hearing from you so that i can forward you a rental application form if you are interested in renting our place.
Thanks and hoping to read from you soon.
This one below is a rental scam email from Kijiji Canada
Typically, fraudsters will attempt to organize a transaction that is not face-to-face. The following is an example of a common reply you might receive:
“Dear Tenant to be, I got your mail and Thanks for your interest in my Home for rent, i work with adastra corporation (www.adastragrp.com), we specialize in Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence, Data Integration, and Master Data Management solutions, we have branches in Bratislava, Ostrava, Sofia, Frankfurt, Germany, France, Spain, Canada, Africa and our headquarter is located in Canada, i was recently transferred to the company’s new branch in Nigeria so am here in (West Africa) with my family and i must say, Africa has being a great place to live am settled here with my family and work has being so good over here. I intend selling the place but my wife and lawyer convinced me not to sell it so we are looking for a responsible person to rent our home while will stay in Africa. we are with the keys and the necessary documentation of our house here in Africa because the last agent we registered with almost sold all our property in our home so please note that you wont be able to view the inside of our home until we send the keys and documents to you but you can go and view the outside or drive-by. the monthly rent includes the utilities. So please, if you are interested in renting our home, i want you to fill out the application form below.”
How to verify the owner of a rental property?
I suppose renting from a corporate rental business or management company would be your best bet to stay away from rental scams but even then make sure you meet in person at the building.
Don’t be shy to ask for references from current or past renters where you plan to move. If they say they don’t have any, walk away. Visiting the property with the property owner which includes touring the inside of the house just not the outside is critical. They likely wouldn’t be in the house if they did not own it.
There must also be an office number, business card or address where you can visit to verify who the landlord or property owner is. You might even take the info you have to your local City Hall to see if they can give you any information about renting and legitimate rental property owners in the city.
Lastly, don’t be shy to ask on social media if anyone in the city you plan to move in has lived at a certain apartment building and for feedback. You might struggle with house rentals in this manner but take any avenue you can before jumping in to sign a fake lease that doesn’t exist.
Scam Alert- Red Flags to watch out for
Every day there are new types of scams grabbing media attention and for the most part they are basic in form but highly successful because unsuspecting people fall into the worst type of scam, email scams.
- Renting without seeing the apartment or house
- Fast-Action required to rent
- Lease is only oral
- No lease or rental agreement offered
- Says that No lease or rental agreement needed
- Chatting to current tenants is not available or not needed.
- Fees for everything including paperwork, rental clean-up, background checks etc.
- Pushy or Convincing painting the best picture and telling you why you must rent.
- Send money first, see apartment later
- High Security/Damage Deposit
- Rental deposit to hold a rental or one that is very expensive.
- Asks for Cash only, wire transfers, e-transfers
- Can’t meet you in person or always has excuses
- No interest in your background- ex: where you work, current residence, full name etc.
- Too good to be true rental terms and monthly costs.
- Can’t provide company information or building contacts.
- Can’t tell you much about the city you are renting or the area where the rental is.
- Fully furnished advertisement but the rental is empty
- Online scam alert or bad reviews
Back in 2005 Mrs. CBB was looking for a place to call home after selling her house. Instead of purchasing a new home she wanted to take time to see what the market was doing so she opted to rent instead. At this point she was also back in school and wanted to focus on her education without the added responsibility of home ownership.
After posting an ad on Kijiji many landlords contacted her with rental offers. Fair enough she thought as they did respond to her online ad. The very first so-called ‘Landlord’ she was in contact with over the phone and via email turned out to be one of many rental scams that are still hot today on the scam lists in Ontario.
The person whom she spoke with via telephone called her, pressured her, told her that the house was empty and he was out-of-town. He said that she could go and look at the house from the outside and take a peak in the window if she wanted to. I’m sure he was hoping that she would say no or not bother but thankfully she did.
At least she was smart not to send any money to him via a wire-transfer because she investigated. When she arrived at the property which just so happened to be around the corner from her house that she just sold. A short 5 minute walk to see this rental dream turned out to be a “House for Sale” with an agent sign in clear view.
Obviously this was a rental scam so she turned to walk back home and called the realtor right away to let her know what as happening. It turns out that the gentlemen on the phone was not the owner of the house and had no right to rent or lease the property.
Rental Scams In Canadian News
- Young Families Fall Prey To Hamilton Rental Scam
- Police warn of property rental fraud
- Toronto Police yet to interview man about Rental Fraud
- Man charged in alleged online rental scam
- Two men wanted for alleged Toronto Kijiji Condo rental scam
- Woman victimized by online rental scam
- OPP warn of house rental scam in Kemptville, Ontario
Who should you report rental scams to?
Report online scams right away if you or someone you know is caught up in one by contacting
- Property Owner/Real Estate Agent
- Online source where ad was found ex: Kijiji report scam
- Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre By Phone Toll Free 1-888-495-8501
- Anyone associated with you renting (social assistance, disability just to tell them)
There are people who intentionally make a fake lease and set out to commit credit card fraud, wire transfer fraud or cash fraud all of which you won’t see the money ever again.
Overall, you need to be the first line of protection when it comes to your money and putting a roof over your head. It may seem overwhelming but imagine the pain it will cause to know that your money is gone for good! Think about that for a moment.
Discussion: Have you ever been caught up in a rental scam and have any other tips to add to the above? Please share your comments below in the comment section.
CBB At Home
Not much has changed at home with my FIL as he’s just waiting and enjoying the days he has left. We’re working on making that as comfortable as possible by getting whatever he needs.
At work I had a meeting this week where they fed me and it was SO GOOD. Who doesn’t like FREE food? I’m part of an association that meets once a month starting this year at fancy clubs in the area. I like experiencing stuff I would not otherwise pay for when it’s free.
Other than that I haven’t had a chance to work on renovations but there is no rush for that when family comes first. That’s all from me and although it may be uninteresting it has been eye-opening. Life IS too short.
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Favourite Weekly Read
The Blunt Bean Counter has an excellent blog post about why you should continually be learning and I 100% agree with him.
My father-in-law, who is a very knowledgeable and smart man, has a saying “If you are not learning, you are forgetting”.
Actually, Mrs. CBB and I both had a chat about this topic years ago when we went back to school for a second time after years away from University and College. She told me that just before her grandfather passed away in the hospital he leaned over and told her to never stop learning.
From that day she reads books, magazines, novels, newspapers, everything but this blog. So, as you can believe we both understand why it’s important to keep your mind busy learning.
Making A Difference 2018
The Making A Difference Networking Series 2018 is booking NOW!! If you are a Personal Finance Blogger from anywhere around the world and haven’t had your blog featured please contact me today for a date and details. This feature may not run every Saturday Weekend Review (SWR) depending on booking and publication dates.
I’m so happy to have the opportunity to introduce myself to you. I’m JJ and I blog over at thefinancialgraduate.com.
When I was getting ready to graduate high school and break into the “real world” I had a ton of questions (and not many answers) about what to do next and how to pay for it!
Unfortunately, most high schools fail to provide basic education on the topics of personal finance and money management. This is a big problem. I’ve witnessed a number of friends and acquaintances go into serious debt because they didn’t know how to make a basic budget or use a credit card.
What can I do for you?
The goal of my blog is to share useful information and insights with those of you in high school (and beyond) who are interested in getting your personal finances in order. I want to help you make money, save money and avoid going into debt or making a major money faux pas.
If you have questions like….
- Should I go to school, take a gap year, start my company….?
- How do I graduate post secondary without loads of debt?
- How do I talk to my romantic partner about money?
- How do I make more money?
…. then this blog is for you!
How am I different from all of the other personal finance blogs?
My focus is youth personal finance. Young millennials and Gen Z-ers I’m talkin’ to you. Those of you in high school who are getting ready to take the next step….and those of you who have just taken that step — I’m looking to share all the things I wish I had known but nobody told me when I was getting ready to break into the real world!
I’m also Canadian, born and raised in Alberta. While we have much in common with our neighbours to the South there are also major differences between Canada and the US when it comes to personal finance. I focus on what is relevant to Canadians.
My background is primarily in research and psychology (MSc in Experimental Psychology). I believe that the majority of our financial decisions are based on our psychology and emotions rather than reason and knowledge…..and there is research to prove it! As a result, many of my posts focus on how our psychology influences our decisions about money.
Thanks to Mr. CBB for allowing me to introduce myself. I am so happy to be a part of the personal finance blogosphere and I hope to meet many of you in the near future!
CBB Words of Wisdom
Parenting and Gardening 101
From the Happiness Is Here Blog comes these 10 alternatives for telling your kid not to cry without saying, don’t cry. As a parent I enjoy reading stuff like this because it reminds me why it is so important to think before I speak to my child.
Saved from Relationship Recharge I found this chart to be motivating but also a reminder for those of us who aren’t putting enough effort into love. What would you add to this chart?
Budget-Friendly Recipe Pick of the Week
This week Vera over at OMGchocolatedesserts.com has this Vanilla Magic Custard Cake that I WILL make. If you know Brits then you know how much we love our custards. This cake seems simple enough to make, budget-friendly and loaded with custard. Yum!! Check it out.
Saturday Search Term Giggles
Every week I get tens of thousands of people visit Canadian Budget Binder because they did a search online and found my blog. (SIC) means I’ve copied the text exactly and it has spelling errors.
Most times funny, Sometimes serious.
- Do you legally have to tell your wife how much money you have? – Sounds like you might want to hold off on getting married.
- Best approach for telling husband to manage finances and to be honest– Woah, you both should have chatted about this before you got married. Good luck but being upfront is what I would do.
- Ice storm No power– Better be prepared
- I would like to renovate my house– Funny, so would I. haha!
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