6 Scams Renters Fall For and How to Avoid Them

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Rental Scam

As a first-time renter, moving to your own house brings a lot of excitement. But it can also cause frustration if you happen to get caught in a rental scam. You might have heard about people getting conned and thought that can never happen to you. You meet a shady character who lies that he has a house ready for you to move in and all he needs is for you to send him some money so that he can “keep” it for you. Spotting a scam from a mile away even before it hits you will help you avoid getting conned by these idle people.

Below are some of the most common rental scams people fall prey to.

Too Good To Be True

If you find a house that you absolutely love with all the right features but somehow the rent is cheap then you should think twice. If you come across a listing ad which looks too close to perfect, do some research first before giving out your money. Scammers will take advantage of first-time renters who have no clue on what to do when they’re apartment hunting.

Empty House

apartments for rent

If you are not careful, this scam can catch you off guard. This type of con artist will look for listings of an empty house then will duplicate it and put his contact information. Some can go to the extent of making separate keys to show you the house and make it the whole scam more believable. The owner of the house might not know that a scam is taking place until someone brings it to his attention or until he visits the property.   

Landlord

You find a house that you love. Then speak to the “landlord/caretaker” who gives you all the details but they don’t want to meet you in person for further talks. This is a major red flag. Or they’ll keep lying to you that they’re out of town. There is no reason why someone can’t avail themselves if they genuinely want to rent out the property. If you keep reaching out and you the landlord is too busy for you, do yourself a favour and continue your search.

Tenant

This is a tricky one because it’s hard to suspect anything. You find a house, visit the place and meet someone who shows you around and makes you feel welcome. They even give you a fake lease agreement to sign. The current tenant will behave like the landlord who will ask to collect a certain amount of money before as collateral.

No Lease

Some scammers will try and get you to pay for rent without signing a lease agreement. If you make a verbal agreement with the landlord, you will end up getting yourself in trouble if anything goes wrong. Plus this is very suspect because most landlords should offer a lease before you move in.

Money

money rental scams

This is one of the most common rental scams that usually occurs. Someone wants you to send them money in exchange for a house you haven’t seen. Because you are anxious to move out for whatever reason, you could find yourself paying this money. And the worst thing is that they are very sleek and tactful when asking you to send them money. A trustworthy landlord won’t make you pay any money before signing a lease agreement.

How To Avoid Rental Scams

avoiding rental scams

Being aware of rental scams is not enough if you don’t know how to avoid or solve them. Follow these tips to help you reduce the chances of getting caught in a fix when you decide to move.

Always Visit the Place Before You Rent

As a first-time renter, you must visit the house for yourself to make sure that it truly does exist and meets your standards. If not, then move on to the next house. Serious, professional landlords want to get tenants in their houses and they will gladly show you the house to let you make an informed decision. If you can’t visit the place by yourself, ask a friend or family member to check it out for you.

Never Pay For What You Haven’t Seen

If anyone asks you for money to show you a house, avoid them like a plague. Most scammers will insist on asking for cash upfront and if you refuse to pay, they move onto the next victim. So why not do the same and move on to the next house search? The only time you should pay money is after you have read and signed the lease agreement.

Sign a Lease Agreement

A lease agreement will protect you from many things if you ever go to court. It will also help you secure your rent deposit when it’s time to move out. To make that the house is rented out legally, look for the owner’s name in the lease agreement. If someone is working on behalf of the landlord, ask for documentation to prove it.  

Research on the Market Rates

research market rates - rental scams

Do some research on your own to know the rent prices in the area you want to move to. This will give you an estimate on what to expect when house hunting. You can differentiate the fake ads from the real ones.  

Don’t Rush to Get a House

An honest landlord won’t put pressure on you to move into his house. You want to find a house that fits your needs and budget. If you come across about someone who is asking you to pay rent quickly, think twice.

In an ideal world, you’d want to get a house easily without going through any challenges. There are people looking to take advantage of first-time renters who are not aware of how the renting process works. Don’t fall prey to any of these scams. Be on the lookout and help a friend.

Share these tips to save a friend’s life. 

Maureen Mbithe
Content Writer at BuyRentKenya