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How to Recognize and Avoid Rental Scams

How to Recognize and Avoid Rental Scams

Nowadays, it is easy to advertise your rental property. By simply accessing the internet, you can post a rental vacancy on different property sites and social media to inform your network.

Even if you are a long-distance landlord and based outside your property’s local community, you can still market your rental space. However, this ease of marketing has also increased online scams.

Scams have a bad impact on your business’s reputation and can lead to distrust. You may find it difficult to attract potential residents if your rental was involved in a scam even though you were also a victim of it.

So, as a landlord, it is vital for you to be informed how a scam unfolds and how to avoid it. This article by Rent Appeal will walk you through the process of a scam so you can recognize the situation and better protect your rental business.

Common Scenarios You are Likely to Face With a Scammer

Your Property Pictures are Posted Without Your Knowledge

Scammers typically search online for images of properties they plan to use to dupe their victims. They will proceed to post it on another property listing website and change the contact information so all inquiries will be directed to them.

They will act as the landlord and respond to questions from prospective renters to build rapport. They will then look for a way to trick the potential residents by communicating and providing false information such as low rental price, asking for an advance deposit.

Scammers Will Prioritize Asking for Payment

As soon as scammers find an unwitting renter, they will often push for immediate payment to get the prospective tenant to hand over some money. A deposit to reserve the rental unit will often be demanded.

The Renter Learns About the Scam

After the potential tenant paid the scammer, the next action taken by the scammer would be to disappear or cease all contact. When the correspondence stops, the potential renter may now suspect that they were scammed.

However, the potential renter may believe that the real property owner was involved and was the one who took their money. This is the reason why rental owners may lose their business integrity and further suffer when these renters share their experience on social media, portraying them as scammers.

Sometimes, the potential renters may not immediately know they were scammed and will drop by the rental property and assume all is well. When they find out about the scam, the landlord may be blamed and will bear the negative consequences.


Although you may not feel that scams have a direct impact on your rental business, the risks can be widespread when victims point their fingers at you for scamming them. If not addressed, the scammers can continue to profit while the property investors end up with a negative reputation.

Tips Tenants Can Follow to Avoid Being a Victim of Scams

Some of the ways that potential residents can take to reduce being a scam victim is to do the following:

  • Don’t hand over a deposit without physically viewing a property first.
  • Verify the identity of the landlord to ensure you are interacting with the real owner.
  • Talk to the current and previous tenants to make sure that the rental unit is legitimate.
  • Refrain from sending payments online without conducting research and checking the rental location.

How to Spot Signs of an Online Scam?

To avoid being a victim of the scam, you need to be alert to warning signs. This ensures you keep your money and avoid the time-consuming effort of tracking and getting your money back.

What are the signs of online scams?

You will notice that:

  • The rental price is often cheaper compared to other similar rental units in the neighborhood.
  • When you request for a property showing, the landlord is conveniently unavailable to conduct a rental tour.
  • The reservation money is a big amount.
  • Too much personal or financial information is asked by the landlord.