It’s that time of year where students are renting apartments, rooms or anything they can get their hands on just so they can go to school.
Students aren’t the only people looking at rental listings, it’s everyone who needs a place to stay because they aren’t homeowners.
When we are young we don’t think much to the rental game that is out there for those homeowners that want to pay down a mortgage on a rental unit.
The game is simple, rent out the house so it pays the mortgage, repairs and city taxes. With the right tenants it’s money in your pocket as a landlord.
Some landlords take it a step further and don’t repair homes etc. but that’s an entirely different story. Some people don’t even own homes and try to get rent from unsuspecting people who are looking for a safe place to live.
Not every landlord is shady but between landlords who can’t even afford to keep a house going and those renting an apartment online for cash or online fraud with rentals it can be a tough game to play. Real estate scams are a big business especially once someone realizes there are people who will fall for these scams.
Keep your guard up when renting
Just last week I read an online story to my wife about how some guy almost got scammed when looking for homes to rent. The story is not too fresh in my mind however my wife quickly reminded me of what she went through when she was looking to rent an apartment after she sold her first house.
My wife was in between houses and wanted to find a room for rent or an apartment for rent in a home. She wasn’t keen on having a lease nor did she want any other roommates.
She’s lived in apartment buildings before so she certainly didn’t want to venture back that way especially when most want you to sign a one year lease.
You also don’t get the perks of renting an apartment in a house with full laundry and other utilities that are included in the price. Parking was always a big issue as well.
Anyhow, since she was working full-time she didn’t have too much spare time to go out looking every single day at apartments nor was she familiar with online scams.
Sure we all get those emails saying we were left millions in a will from our dead uncle in a foreign country but she almost fell into a rental scam like this guy I read about last week.
Renting using online ads
My wife proceeded to put an ad on kijiji looking for rental housing because renting seemed like the smart thing to do especially since she was single and had many options on the table that she needed to think about. (I was one of them, ha)
She ended up getting a response via email from a guy who said he had the perfect apartment for rent that met all of her specifications.
He did call her cell phone at the time since she didn’t have a home phone and the number was weird she said. It was one of those 1-222-444… blah…blah numbers but she still talked to the guy.
She said he was a bit hard to understand with his heavy accent but they talked about renting and the apartment he had in the bottom of his house.
It was a walk-out apartment he was renting and he wanted someone who could pay first and last month’s rent and move in right away.
That was great my wife thought because she needed something quick. The best part was that the house was literally around the corner from the house she just sold.
She never told the landlord that information but he proceeded to tell her to go have a look but she could only look through the windows.
He told her he was selling the house but taking it off the market and was out of the country at the moment on business.
He sent her pictures via email which he said would be sufficient for her to base her decision on as it was practically a brand new build house with a large finished basement.
My wife thought the pictures were great but she was starting to get very suspicious of this guy when he requested her to wire the first and last month’s rent to him.
She took a walk around the block and sure enough the house was still for sale so my wife took down the realtor’s information (she’s smart like that) but did not go near the property.
In her head she already knew this had to be a scam and didn’t want to get caught looking into the windows of this house. Sometimes our gut tells us things and we ignore it but the warning signs were everywhere.
She proceeded to walk back home and ring up the real estate agent who was selling the home. She talked to the agent on the phone for about 20 minutes and explained the situation to her.
The agent told her she was smart to make the phone call and that she was part of a known scam that people from other countries pull just to get money wired to them.
The house was in fact for sale and the owners still lived in the house. My wife wanted to report the fraud but there really wasn’t much she could do but to alert the real estate agent, the homeowners and the police about this.
She quickly took her rental ad off of kijiji and found a home from word of mouth through work but the experience at a young age terrified her.
She almost lost about $1000 but with smart thinking she was able to cut this guy off but likely didn’t stop him from trying again. It’s important to be an informed renter for these reasons and to look out for yourself and not the landlord.
Then, this reader question comes in and I’m just amazed at how far some people will go just to have people renting in their home. Remember what I said that you need to look out for yourself, don’t forget that.
I am working full-time and hoping to move to another city with-in the next 8 months to a year. I live with a lady now who seems to have serious issues and scares me enough that I want out. I guess I was naive to renting because I’ve always lived at home with my parents.
I guess you never know who you are moving in with until after you move in. I’ve now come to the conclusion that I want an apartment rather than renting a room.
She rents out practically every room in her house because she is in so much debt that she needs the cash. I pay her in cash and when my vehicle was damaged at her house she told me to lie to my insurance company that I was just visiting. I don’t like to do these things so I just wanted out.
I was looking around for a new place when a lady I work with told me she was renting rooms in her house. She was also in a financial bind and just about to claim bankruptcy.
I don’t know why I don’t listen to my sister sometimes but she seemed to drill it into my head that I need to do things the right way. This is an important first career for me that will be a stepping stone and the last thing I need to worry about is moving over and over.
After plenty of back and forth conversations with my sister I decided to decline moving in with this lady. First of all she wanted cash, she didn’t give me a discount for paying cash and wanted first and last with no receipts so I couldn’t claim my rent on my income tax return. I probably won’t get anything back as I earn too much money but my sister was very upset with this.
“This woman is looking out for herself and doesn’t care about you, and if she goes bankrupt you can kiss your money goodbye”, she said. I know anyone can go bankrupt at any time but the fact that I knew ahead of time should have been a red flag.
I was also likely not even going to be covered under her insurance if anything were to happen to the house and I couldn’t say anything because it was all cash under the table.
I learned my lesson from this experience especially after calling professionals who specialize in renting for advice. Although she was upset with me for saying she was relying on my money, in the end I’m happy I did.
I could have easily been scammed out of my money and personal belongings in the end because I didn’t do things the right way. I can see how it can be enticing to people when they think they are getting deals or they are in a rush to rent a place that they do anything just to get the key.
I have now secured an awesome basement apartment in a brand new home where there is a rental agreement, insurance and rental receipts.
My family is happy and to be honest it’s easier to look out for my life than to worry about someone else’s financial problems that I would have never of solved with the rent I was paying.
I just wanted to say thanks for all the great information on your blog and I hope that other young adults or students don’t get stuck like I did. Learning to do things the right way rather than scamming a system is better than having something bite you in the end for a few dollars.
My question is should I pay with cash even if I am getting a receipt or should I still pay with a cheque?
Well, I’m happy to read you learned a valuable lesson as some people learn the hard way before they get themselves on the right path.
Part of the problem is people listen to their friends or other people who have no knowledge of the rules. If you are dealing with finances or your life in general it’s not only important to do your own research via the Landlord and Tenant Board but to talk to professionals.
Protecting yourself is paramount especially when you rent from someone you don’t know or live in someone’s house who are essentially strangers to you. As far as paying cash or cheque for your rent I would always lean more towards the cheque because it leaves a paper trail.
When you pay with cash it’s as good as gone even if she hands you a piece of paper she scribbles on that you paid rent. Any good landlord will have a professional receipt book that they use and a renter should use a cheque book so he/she can track expenses in their budget and bank account.
If you need to prove that you paid your landlord rent all you need to do is get that cheque back from the bank showing who the cheque was written out to and why. That means don’t forget to put a little note on the cheque stating it was for rent in a particular month.
The woman who was near bankrupt and wanting to sell her house until you came along likely will never get back on her feet with your rent, you are right. Bankruptcy is far deeper than a rental payment each month and you were smart to walk away because you can’t solve her financial problems.
Although anyone could be in financial ruins even if they don’t tell you it’s better when renting that you go through the proper process.
Have you ever been part of a rental scam or homeowners who are so desperate to rent because they are on the depths of bankruptcy that you lost out on your rental money?
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