Something as certain as death and taxes? Cheater. As long as they think they can get away with it, there will always be those misguided people who set out to deceive people. Unfortunately, rent fraud has been on the rise in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's important to know what to look for to avoid the financial and emotional stress of being an accidental victim of a scam.
residential.rentPaula Azevedo, the in-house expert at , was joined by Klaus Rode, property manager at Century 21, for a live liv.talk webinar discussing top tips for preventing rental fraud. Watch the video and check the transcript below to learn how to stay safe while renting.
This article is a partial transcript of our live webinar liv.talk: How to Avoid Rent Fraud. Watch the video and download the guide to get our insights now.
Scam Tip #1 – Too good to be true
Scam Tip #2 – Complicated Communication
Scam Tip #3 – Don’t Share a Real Address
Scam Tip #4 - Urgent Cash Deposit Demand
Scam Tip #5 – Wanting Too Much Information
Cheat Tip #6 – Press to sign the contract ASAP
Additional rental features
10 essential items to avoid rent fraud
When it comes to rental fraud, knowledge is power. beware of these10 thingswhen looking for and applying for rental accommodation.
Scammers are always evolving which is why it is so important to stay up to date on the scams they are attempting. Here are some examples of real scams and what you can do to avoid them:
Scam Tip #1 – Too good to be true
If the listed rental price seems incredibly low, it could be a fake listing. People want to get a good deal done quickly, especially one that is far belowaverage walking speed. But this is exactly what scammers hope for.
While it's possible you got a good deal, it's still wise to do your due diligence first.virtual tourshould help to eliminate or confirm suspicions.
Here's what you can do if you find a post that seems too good to be true:
- check the price
- Look for listings within the same building or area to see average rent – If the listing you're looking at is more than $100 below the average, that's a red flag.
- View average rents in the neighborhood using liv.rent's monthly rental ratesrental reports.
- Look at the photos and make sure they match the device's description - you may have reason to be suspicious if:
- Photos are blurry.
- Photos are used in other advertisements.
- Owner cannot provide additional photos.
- To look for
- Google the address to make sure it's real.
- Locate the phone number provided in the listing.
- Request a video tour or schedule a personal visit.
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Scam Tip #2 – Complicated Communication
Scammers use a variety of methods to lure unsuspecting renters. First, they often try to hamper communication. They will not be available to talk to you on the phone and will instead follow a script when emailing or texting you.
For example, in response to your query, they may claim to live abroad and provide a lot of irrelevant detail describing the complexities of your situation, thenexpress an urgent need for a deposit immediately.
Don't oblige! Be wary of scammers who try to appeal to your empathy by claiming they or a family member has a terminal illness.
If it's difficult to communicate with them or they say they're out of the country, here's what you can do:
- Trust your gut, it's usually right
- Make sure the name matches the email
- Google your phone number to see if anything suspicious comes up
This reluctance is suspicious and could indicate that the property or unit does not exist or that the images posted are of a different unit. Some smaller landlords may want to hide the apartment number for privacy reasons, but for a serious applicant they would divulge this information.
Viewing a listing should be one of your first priorities and an important way to confirm the listing's legitimacy. Be sure to schedule a visit, live or virtual, with the owner or property manager. Real professionals shouldAlwaysbe ready and willing to make appointments for live or virtual showings.
Here are steps you can take to protect yourself in this situation:
- Request a video tour.
- Schedule a personal visit.
- Visit the site yourself.
- Call a friend, take them for a walk, or get feedback on your situation.
- Use trusted rental platforms withverification functions.
>> Suggested reading: The liv.rent verification process
Scam Tip #4 - Urgent Cash Deposit Demand
Remember, you don't have to pay a deposit until you sign the lease. Never send money to a landlord who pressures you to pay a security deposit before signing a lease.
If there is undue pressure to sign or send money, always be wary. Legitimate landlords and property managers recognize that tenants may need time to consider their decision. Also, they should take their time to check you out.potential tenant, before proceeding with the signing of the lease and the next financial steps.
Also, in a rental market where supply is high, landlords who claim a deposit is required due to such high demand are likely to be wrong.
Here's what you can do if you feel pressured to pay a deposit:
- Check local rental laws - in Canada, you are not required to pay anything before you sign the lease.
- Communicate with the owner and let them know that you cannot ask for a security deposit before signing the lease.
This should dispel any concerns, and of course, if something seems amiss, you are under no obligation to proceed with this unit or communicate further with the owner if you don't wish to.
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Scam Tip #5 – Wanting Too Much Information
As with soliciting money, you are not required to share contact information, SIN, credit card or bank account information with a potential landlord until you decide to proceed with a rental - never provide them unless you 100% agree with the owner.
Once you've decided on a property, the landlord may ask you to provide bank statements, a letter of employment or tax information. That way, they can make sure you can pay your rent on time. YourSIN is not required.
>> Suggested reading: What information can the landlord request?
Here's what you can do if you suspect an owner or property manager is asking for too much information
- Be informed - in Canada,Landlords can askfor your SIN and copies of your driver's license, passport and income tax return to confirm your idea and ability to pay rent, but it's youno thanksto provide it.
- Ask the prospective owner for a copy of his driver's license or proof that he actually owns the property.
- Use a trusted rental platform like liv.rent to securely upload the necessary documents to your profile, where this information will only be shared with landlords if you request their listing.
Cheat Tip #6 – Press to sign the contract ASAP
Responsible landlords often want to verify their information. They will want to confirm your employment, credit history and references. These screening processes take time.
If a landlord seems too eager to skip the verification process and proceed with collecting the deposit and signing the lease, that could be a red flag. Real landlords and property managers want to do a good jobcheck tenantsso that they can protect their investments.
Here's what you can do to protect yourself if you feel the owner's screening procedures aren't rigorous enough:
- Do you check the information you have given the landlord, whether or not it is enough to deliver you a contract so quickly?
- Continue to see other properties.
Responsible owners review and verify your data. If they don't have the time, it's probably a scam or they aren't good landlords - two things you don't want.
Additional rental features
When it comes to protecting yourself against rental fraud, knowledge is power. Of course, liv.rent has extensivereview processesfor landlords and listings to keep you safe, but if you rent elsewhere, you'll need to know what to look for to stay safe while renting.
To help you get started on the right foot and protect your rental search from fraud, here are some resources with great tips for identifying and avoiding rental fraud:
- How to protect yourself from rent fraud in Canada- Most common scams and tips on how to avoid them
- The liv.rent verification process– An overview of the measures we take to protect you when you rent on liv.rent
- Privacy and rent: how to protect your information– Our guide to protecting the privacy of your data during the rental process.
- Landlord Scams and Scams: What to Look For(outside ofRotflosse) - This handy Redfin Realtor guide offers great advice on steps you can take to prevent rental scams before they happen.
Rethink the way you rent
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>> Keep up to date with average rents in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal: rental reports
Get the terms of your rental in writing, including fees, rent, and maintenance. Get a copy of the lease, signed by both you and the property owner/manager. Do a search on the owner, real estate management company, and listing. If you find the same ad listed under a different name, that's a clue it may be a scam.How do you know you're not getting scammed on a rental property? ›
- The listing photos have an MLS watermark.
- The listing details are vague.
- They don't want to show you the place first.
- They're ready to make a deal with no background info.
- They're out of the country.
- They want you to sign or pay right away.
Red flags for rental scams include prices that seem too good to be true, requests to send money via a wire transfer or the inability to tour a rental unit before signing a lease.How can you tell a rental scammer? ›
- They Don't Want to Meet You in Person. ...
- They Want You to Move in Immediately, Without Ever Seeing the Property. ...
- They Ask for Rent or a Security Deposit Before Signing a Lease. ...
- The Price is Too Good. ...
- The Listing Has Typos, Poor Grammar, or Excessive Punctuation.
If your landlord utilizes Schedule My Rent as their rental management software and you are enrolled with Zelle® directly through your financial institution, you can choose to pay your monthly rent with Zelle®.How to spot a rental scammer on Craigslist? ›
- The Typical Scam.
- Red Flag 1 - They're Not local.
- Red Flag 2 - Unbelievably Cheap.
- Red Flag 3 - “Email Only” In the Response Tab.
- Red Flag 4 - Advanced Payment.
- Red Flag 5 - Odd-looking Photos.
- Red Flag 6 - Hints in the Email.
Many landlords are willing to overlook a poor rental history if you can find a close friend or relative with good credit to co-sign the lease with you. A co-signer doesn't actually live with you like a roommate but simply agrees to be held responsible as well if you damage the property or fail to pay your rent.How do you tell someone they didn't get the rental property? ›
To deny a tenant application, you need to let the prospective tenant know that you will not be selecting their application by sending them an adverse action letter. This letter informs the tenant why they are being denied, and if there is any way that their application can be reconsidered.Is Venmo safe to pay rent? ›
Keep in mind that there aren't any protections for landlords or tenants when sending rent money through Venmo. If a tenant sends their rent to the wrong person, Venmo won't refund the money to the tenant or redirect it to the landlord.How do I know if my apartment is sketchy? ›
- They won't let you see the actual unit you're renting. ...
- It's impossible to get maintenance on the phone. ...
- The utilities don't work. ...
- They tell you “short of murder they'll approve about anyone” ...
- They use a lease with items that can't actually be legally enforced.
- You Like Your Landlord (and Your Lease) It's important to enter into a lease confident in your landlord's expectations and dependability. ...
- It's Well-Maintained. ...
- Your Location is Ideal. ...
- The Price is Right. ...
- It Has Your Non-Negotiable Amenities. ...
- It's the Right Fit for Your Furry Friend.
If you're handy, good with yard work, or like to clean, these are good qualities to mention to your landlord. They're especially great skills to have if you have to negotiate your lease. This way, your landlord knows that you might have something to offer on top of being a great tenant for their rental apartment.What is a property scammer? ›
What Is A Real Estate Scam? Real estate fraud happens when scammers use real estate as a cover to steal your money. According to the FBI, more than 13,600 people were victims of real estate or rental fraud last year alone. Real estate scams play out in various ways, and some of the most common are mortgage scams.Is rent a waste of money? ›
Key points. Renting a property is often referred to as throwing away money. That's because, unlike with a mortgage loan, renting doesn't help you build equity. Renting isn't necessarily the wrong move for everyone though.Are Facebook rentals legit? ›
These fake rentals try to lure you in with misleading pictures and too-good-to-be-true rent prices. You might even be asked to pay additional fees for supposed background checks, charges that are illegal and are just an attempt to extort you.Why do landlords use Zelle? ›
If you're looking for a quick, easy, and free way for tenants to pay rent online, Zelle can be a good option. All tenants need is the landlord's email address or mobile phone number. They can even set up recurring payments, so tenants never have to worry about forgetting to pay rent on time again.Does Zelle report to IRS? ›
Long story short: Zelle's setup, which uses direct bank-to-bank transactions, is not subject to the IRS's 1099-K reporting rules. Other peer-to-peer payment apps are considered “third-party settlement organizations” and are bound by stricter tax rules.Can I use cash App to collect rent? ›
Cash App: Overview. Both Cash App and Baselane offer online rent collection for landlords, making it easier for tenants to pay on time with multiple payment options.How do I make sure someone is legit on Craigslist? ›
- 1.) Be familiar with Craigslist and the services it offers. ...
- 2.) Deal locally. ...
- 3.) Examine the product(s) before finalizing a sale. ...
- 4.) Don't accept or send a cashier's check, certified check or money order as payment. ...
- 5.) Use cash—safely. ...
- 6.) ...
- 7.) ...
Why do people post fake rentals on Craigslist? People post fake rental ads on Craigslist because they are scammers and are looking for easy money. Plus, some potential renters who may be looking for a new home may be a little desperate as well, because everyone needs a place to live in, of course.
Report the scam to the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov and to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at ic3.gov/Home/FileComplaint. Contact your local police department, especially if you met the scammer in person.How do I get around 3x the rent? ›
If you don't make 3 times the rent, you can still try to get the apartment by putting up a larger security deposit, finding a guarantor, or demonstrating your fiscal responsibility by showing your potential landlord bank statements that show you being responsible with your money and discretionary spending.How to get an apartment with bad credit Los Angeles? ›
- Run a credit report yourself. ...
- Find an apartment with no credit checks. ...
- Start paying down your debt. ...
- Provide a reference letter. ...
- Get a co-signer or roommate. ...
- Be honest about bad credit. ...
- Offer to pay more upfront. ...
- Ask to set up automatic payments.
Invalid Reasons to Reject Tenants
You cannot reject a tenant based on discrimination. According to Fair Housing laws, housing discrimination occurs if you reject a tenant based on their protected class: Race. Religion.
If it's the former and your actual landlord is ignoring you, it could be because: They are busy and haven't gotten around to answering you yet. They can't fix your problem, or it isn't their problem to fix. They are a bad landlord.Should you pay rent with Cashapp? ›
Because rent payments are not peer-to-peer, they are classified as business transactions. Business transactions come with a 3% fee. While using an online payment provider may seem a bit unsafe to some, Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App are all secure and safe methods to pay rent.Is it OK to pay rent via PayPal? ›
PayPal is far from the ideal online platform for paying rent. You as a tenant must realize that this type of transaction needs to be transparent, legal, and free for both parties – you and your landlord (or property manager). That's why you should talk about your payment options with the landlord at the very beginning.Who owns Zelle? ›
Zelle is owned and operated by Early Warning Services, LLC, which is co-owned by seven of the nation's big banks. The payment app launched in 2017 as competition in the peer-to-peer space began heating up with PayPal's Venmo and Block's Cash App.What is the red flag of a bad landlord? ›
This is perhaps the biggest and most obvious red flag of them all—never sign a lease for a property you have not been allowed to view. More often than not, this means they know there is something wrong with the property and they are hoping to get you locked into a contract before you have the chance to back out.What do you call a bad landlord? ›
A slumlord (or slum landlord) is a slang term for a landlord, generally an absentee landlord with more than one property, who attempts to maximize profit by minimizing spending on property maintenance, often in deteriorating neighborhoods, and to tenants that they can intimidate.
: a landlord who receives unusually large profits from substandard, poorly maintained properties.How do you decide who gets the better room in an apartment? ›
One of the first ways to determine who gets the larger room is by figuring out who has more (or bigger) furniture. Naturally the person who has accumulated the most will need more square footage to store it. If furniture isn't going to settle the debate, consider taking into account each roommate's social life.What percentage of your take home pay should be devoted to rent? ›
Try the 30% rule. One popular rule of thumb is the 30% rule, which says to spend around 30% of your gross income on rent. So if you earn $3,200 per month before taxes, you should spend about $960 per month on rent. This is a solid guideline, but it's not one-size-fits-all advice.What are landlords biggest fears? ›
- Property Damage. The tenant might seem like the nicest person on the planet but there is always the fear that they might damage the property. ...
- The Wrong Tenant. Will the person living in your property be a problem? ...
- Will They Pay The Rent?
Pay rent on time. Follow lease terms. Refrain from causing problems with other tenants or neighbors. Keep from damaging your property beyond normal wear and tear.
- Preparation is key. ...
- Submit a great cover letter. ...
- Provide proof you can afford to pay. ...
- Furnish solid references. ...
- Obtain a financial guarantor. ...
- Be honest in your rental application. ...
- Review your social media. ...
- Create a good first impression.
Florida law prohibits landlords from evicting tenants without going through the court system (self-help evictions). Your landlord can't evict you without a judge's order. And if the sheriff shows up to evict you, he also must have a court order. The only exception to this is if you have legally abandoned your place.How to check if a website is legit? ›
- Use the free McAfee WebAdvisor to check for safe sites. ...
- Check the padlock in the address bar. ...
- Verify the website's trust seal. ...
- Use the Google Transparency Report. ...
- Check the company's social media presence. ...
- Analyze the overall look of the website.
All listings on homes.rently.com are real listings from verified property management companies. Make sure the listing price is within a close range to other similar rentals in the area. Scammers will often post the property for a much lower price to make a quick profit.Is it normal to pay landlord through Venmo? ›
Venmo is easy to use for receiving rent as long as a tenant and landlord are using the Venmo mobile app. Tenants can pay rent with any accepted U.S. bank account or debit card.
Rentdrop is a free app that allows tenants to pay rent online for free. Landlords can set up automatic payment reminders, charge late fees, and block partial payments.Is PayPal a safe way to pay rent? ›
Because rent payments are not peer-to-peer, they are classified as business transactions. Business transactions come with a 3% fee. While using an online payment provider may seem a bit unsafe to some, Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App are all secure and safe methods to pay rent.Can a tenant refuse to pay rent Florida? ›
Nonpayment of Rent
If the tenant does not pay the rent or vacate, the landlord may begin legal action to evict. For the landlord to gain payment of rent or possession of the dwelling, they must file suit in county court. The clerk of the county court will then send the tenant notification by summons.
In Florida, there is no limit to how much you can raise the rent as a landlord. This means that the landlord that owns your property can raise the rent amount by any number that they choose.Can a landlord record you without permission in Florida? ›
Now in Florida we have what's called the 'two party consent law' and that means that both parties have to consent to a recording.What website checks if a website is safe? ›
Google's Safe Browsing technology examines billions of URLs per day looking for unsafe websites. Every day, we discover thousands of new unsafe sites, many of which are legitimate websites that have been compromised.What does the padlock symbol on some websites mean? ›
Whenever you see a little padlock in the address bar of your internet browser, as well as when you use apps, email and messaging, you're relying on something called 'transport layer security' or TLS. It's a protocol that keeps us safe online.Is there an app to check fake website? ›
scamadviser helps identify if a webshop is fraudulent or infected with malware, or conducts phishing, fraud, scam and spam activities.Which housing app is most accurate? ›
Realtor.com has the most reliable app because of the influence and needs of the National Association of Realtors and because the data is mined from the MLS. Available for Android and iOS, this home buying app provides property listings sourced directly from over 800 MLSs.Are houses for rent on Facebook legit? ›
Fake rental scams
You can find some great rentals on Facebook Marketplace. However, you can also run into plenty of phony listings. These fake rentals try to lure you in with misleading pictures and too-good-to-be-true rent prices.
TurboTenant is not a scam. They provide a free property management software to landlords and property owners. Because the service is free to landlords, the rental applicants pay for the application and background checks.