Renting for the first time might be very exciting. Having your own space will give you a sense of independence and you’ll have the sweet taste of freedom. As exciting as it is, you need to be aware that there are some risks to be aware of, like rental scams.
Here are some red flags and advice on how to address them:
RED FLAG #1 - The landlord does not want to meet you in person
Scammers don’t want to be identified, so they will try to manage the situation remotely. They may tell you that they are out of town, in hospital or otherwise engaged to avoid meeting you. This is suspicious because a property is a big asset and one would expect a real landlord to take care when choosing the person who will live there.
Insist on meeting the landlord for the benefit of both parties. As much as he needs to vet you, you need to be comfortable that this is someone you can trust and rely on to maintain the place you call home.
RED FLAG #2 - The landlord wants you to commit before you physically view the property
Scammers want to get your money as quickly as possible and will prey on your fear of missing out to get you to pay to secure the property before viewing it.
If the landlord is hesitant to allow you to see the property, be wary. Insist on viewing the property. This way you can see if it is the same as the listing and if it meets your expectations.
RED FLAG #3 - The price seems too good to be true
We’d all like to have a cheap rental, but if something is priced too low it could be too good to be true.
Have a look at the surrounding properties and check the prices of those to compare. If there is a significant difference, ask the landlord why this is. A valid reason may be that he is managing the property himself and isn’t paying an agent (this may account for 8-12% variances).
RED FLAG #4 - The listing is vague
The listing needs to have detailed information about features, availability, special conditions (e.g. no pets). It should include enough photographs for you to see all aspects of the property. There should also be contact information of the landlord or agent.
Ask for details and check that they are consistent e.g. photographs should match the description and features of the property.
RED FLAG #5 - The landlord wants to seal the deal quickly
If the landlord is too eager to get you to sign a contract and does not suggest any tenant vetting (e.g. credit and reference checks) be careful.
Placing tenants who will pay rent on time and who will look after the property are priorities for landlords. Don’t trust a landlord who is negligent about this.
RED FLAG #6 - There is no lease agreement in play
You’re at risk if there is no clear and comprehensive lease agreement governing your rental and, specifically, how your deposit will be handled, when your rent is due, what maintenance obligations will be yours vs. what the landlord must take responsibility for and what notice you need to give before vacating the property.
While verbal commitments can be legally binding, it can be difficult if not impossible to prove them in court or in front of the Rental Housing Tribunal. Don't take a chance; rather insist on a signed lease agreement consisting of terms you fully understand and are prepared to commit to.
Finding a rental property that suits your needs and simultaneously trying to avoid rental scams can be overwhelming. This is why we suggest using Just Property and our trusted agents to help you. We have thousands of rental listings available across the country and 20+ years’ of experience in property rentals and management.
Rental peace of mind. Delivered.
For more information on Just Property please visit www.just.property or call (087) 550 2258.
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