Warning signs of rental scams
Source: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, 2014
- Rental rates that are well below the current market rates.
- Landlords who require you to leave a deposit on the spot without any formal rental agreement in place or with a much later move-in date. They could be showing you an apartment to which they have somehow gained access but which is not actually for rent.
- Landlords or homeowners who are out of the country and require you to wire them a security deposit before they will send you the key.
- Someone who is willing to rent you a property without meeting you or doing a background check on you.
- Links within emails that send you to websites asking for personal and/or financial information. These are usually phishing emails that expose you to financial fraud.
- Ads that show pictures of the outside of the property only, or pictures that do not match the actual property.
Tips for tenants
- Google the contact email or the telephone number - you can be surprised by your findings.
- Google a sentence or part of a sentence used in the e-mail.
- Is the price too good to be true? Check rental rates in the same area. Often fraudsters will try to entice their victims with unbelievably low prices to elicit multiple victims.
- Are they the landlord or property manager? Only the landlord and property manager have the authority to rent out a place (there are exceptions to this rule, however, it is rare).
Tips for landlord
- Do they only communicate via email? Police suggest being very cautious when dealing with someone you only have contact with via the Internet.
- Verify payments. If you are considering renting to someone who sends advance payment, ensure that their payment is good with your bank.
- Excess payments. Never wire or transfer excess funds to anyone.
- Caution during student rental season. Fraud becomes more prevalent near the end of a term at university or college when students are attempting to sublet their apartments. Be extra cautious at this time.
Rental scams vary but here are three of the more common scenarios:
A scammer poses as a landlord on websites such as Craigslist or Kijiji and says they are out of the country and require a deposit on the rental apartment. Once the money is paid, usually through a money transfer, the new tenant discovers there isn’t actually a rental home available, and their money is lost.
A scammer has somehow obtained access to a property or place. They pose as a landlord / property manager and show the victim the property. They then request an immediate down payment to secure the property and inform the victim they can move in at a later date. On the move-in date, the victim arrives only to discover it wasn’t actually an available rental home and there have been other victims as well.
A scammer poses as a tenant and responds to internet advertisements for rental apartments. The suspect contacts the landlord by email only. The “tenant” notifies the landlord they are currently out of province, but they will send a cheque or bank draft as a deposit to secure the rental. The cheque will be more than the agreed-upon amount, and the “tenant” will direct the landlord to send the excess money to a third party. After depositing the cheque, the victim will be notified by their bank that the cheque they deposited was worthless and the landlord will be responsible to the bank for the money.
Same as above (scenario 3), but the person would ask for your credit card credentials in order to have our account credited with a deposit amount. Never give your credit card number a stranger.