Multifamily rental scams: How to protect yourself

The rising concern of rental fraud

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When searching for the perfect apartment, the excitement of finding a great deal can often overshadow the need for caution. Unfortunately, rental scams are prevalent in the real estate industry, targeting unsuspecting renters with the promise of a dream home at an unbelievable price. As a reputable leader in the real estate industry, Hines is committed to providing valuable insights to protect individuals from falling victim to these fraudulent schemes.

Understanding rental scams

According to the FBI Boston Division, the current real estate market's surging rents and home prices have led to a spike in rental scams. Scammers take advantage of this climate by creating fake rental listings that appear enticing to prospective tenants. They often hijack legitimate rental listings, using stolen photos and descriptions to lure in their targets. Once a potential renter shows interest, the scammer requests a security deposit, first month's rent, or other fees without ever intending to provide a property.

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Spotting the red flags

It is crucial for renters to be aware of the red flags associated with rental scams. Some common warning signs include being asked to send money before viewing the property, encountering unusually low prices that seem too good to be true, and dealing with landlords who are unable or unwilling to meet in person. Additionally, impersonation of well-known rental platforms can mislead individuals into believing they are engaging in a legitimate lease transaction.

Protecting yourself

To avoid falling victim to rental scams, it is essential to take proactive measures. Always verify the legitimacy of a rental listing by researching the property, cross-referencing the details provided, and confirming the landlord's identity. Furthermore, never send money or personal information without having viewed the property in person or virtually through a trusted platform.

Here are the top five tips to help you avoid apartment rental scams:

  • Verify the legitimacy: Research the property and cross-reference details to confirm its authenticity. Ensure that the landlord or property manager has a credible online presence, and never send money without conducting thorough due diligence.

  • In-person or virtual viewings: Insist on viewing the property in person or through a trusted virtual platform before committing to any payments. This helps in validating the existence and condition of the property.

  • Beware of unrealistic offers: If a rental listing seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of unusually low prices and landlords who are pushy about immediate payments.

  • Background check the landlord: Conduct a background check on the landlord or property manager to verify their identity and legitimacy. Look for reviews and ratings from previous tenants to gauge their credibility.

  • Report suspected scams: In the unfortunate event that you come across a rental scam, it is crucial to report it to the relevant authorities. The Federal Trade Commission advises reporting instances of rental fraud to the police and providing any relevant documentation, such as screenshots of the listing and email exchanges. By taking this step, you contribute to safeguarding others from falling victim to similar scams.

By staying informed and vigilant, individuals can protect themselves from falling prey to fraudulent schemes, ensuring a safe and secure renting experience.

Sources:;;; U.S. News & World Report;;;