Found a fabulous place? The rent’s just perfect and the apartment is just what you were looking for. But is your new landlord trustworthy? Or do you suspect a landlord fraud? Not sure?
How do you spot rental/landlord scams? Is it the lease that you should pay more attention to, or the costs? We highlight four ways you can spot landlord fraud:
No In-person Tours
You found a great apartment online, and decide to visit the place. But, for some reason, your landlord persists on meeting outside. When you ask why, he makes excuses and does not give you a clear reason as to why you can’t visit the apartment. The owner is clearly hiding something. No matter how beautiful the place is and how badly you want it, walk away.
They Skip the Paperwork
There’s a reason why it’s essential to get things in writing. Because you can create a record and can always trace back the information, when needed. Thus, if your landlord only speaks to you on the phone or in person and never replies to your emails, you should suspect their intentions. Fraudulent landlords do not want any record of their interaction to keep themselves safe.
They Insist on Cash
So the deal’s done, and you meet the landlord to sign the contract. The landlord, very casually, informs you that he accepts only cash payments. Don’t sign the lease. Insist on paying through check and see how he responds. If he still insists on cash payments, know that there’s something suspicious. Cash transactions do not have any records; thus they cannot be traced, which is why it is preferred by scammers.
High Upfront Fees
The amount that landlords can charge is clearly defined by law firms. Typically, it is the first and last month’s rent and a security deposit that is equivalent to a month’s rent. In some cases, the new lock’s price is also included. But, anything beyond this is clearly illegal.
If you’re asked to pay more than this, check your local laws and talk to your landlord about it. In case you pay a huge amount to your landlord, don’t forget to get a receipt with the date and signature.
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