Watch Out for These Red Flags When Renting a Home
Looking for a rental home can be exhausting and overwhelming. While there are plenty of rental properties that follow protocol and abide by the appropriate housing laws, there are also some that scam renters into sometimes dangerous situations. Keep the following in mind when looking for a home to rent, so that you can avoid any extra stress or threats to your financial standing.
Prematurely giving out personal information.
When you apply to rent a property, you are almost always asked to provide a credit report. Usually, credit reports require a small fee, and are for the landlord’s eyes only. If you receive an email with a link asking for your credit information, there’s a good chance your personal info – along with with the processing fee— are going into the wrong hands. Usually, the landlord will provide you with an official form documenting that you paid for the credit check, and that it’s classified information. Be sure to meet the landlord and see the unit in person before providing any personal information, filling out any official forms, or giving any amount of money.
It looks too good to be true.
Many times, renters seeking housing look through pages and pages of rental listings online. This search can become mind-numbingly exhausting and frustrating. Renters hope to come across that one great apartment with the reasonable price, that includes all the details they were hoping for. If you do find that impossibly perfect listing, it’s important to do a little further research into this incredible find to make sure it isn’t in fact too good to be true. If the unit is similar to other ones you’ve looked at, but with a significantly lower rate, consider the reason. Perhaps it’s in an undesirable neighborhood, or it’s in serious need of repairs. It never hurts to ask the landlord about the unit, and why it’s priced the way it is. From there, you can assess if it’s a wise idea to move forward or not.
Meet your landlord face to face.
There’s nothing wrong with communicating with your potential landlord via email– in fact, it’s quite normal. If you notice that the email messages are full of grammatical errors, or weird typing patterns, there may be something fishy going on. Many rental scammers use email templates to look like they’re hand written, and sometimes they’re hard to spot. This is why it’s important to meet the landlord at least once, face to face in order to know what your getting yourself into. If when proposing to meet, the landlord claims they’ll be out of town, or they’re unreachable, there’s a good chance they’re not trustworthy. It never hurts to do a background check on the landlord and the building you’re renting from to make sure they are who they say they are.
They don’t need anything in writing.
No matter how minute the issue may be, it never hurts to get it in writing. This way, there is never any confusion about your lease, and no one has to rely on their memory to recall important information. Be sure to get a written lease agreement, and have you both sign it. If the landlord will only take cash under the table, there’s a pretty good chance there’s something going on behind the scenes that you don’t want to be a part of.
Was this helpful? Like and comment below. If you’re renting and thinking about buying a house, you may be interested in the Renting vs. Buying a home article.