Finding a new home to rent is stressful. Finding a new home to rent with scammers on the prowl is downright torturous. A new study analyzing rental scammers shows that an estimated 5.2 million renters in the U.S. have lost money to rental fraud, and many more have encountered scam listings or contacted fraudulent properties during their apartment searches.
You would think that the ringmasters behind these scams would be targeting older people like a telemarketing or health insurance scam would. However, this is quite the opposite. Renters aged 19 to 29 are 42% more likely to have lost money due to rental fraud. Despite being a tech-savvy group, these millennial renters lack the ability to recognize and avoid rental scams.
Renters falling for these scams are not just losing pocket change, they are losing big. Of the 6.4% of renters who lost money due to a rental scam, the median loss is $400… but many have lost much more. An estimated 31.3% of rental fraud victims lost over $1,000 and 17.6% lost over $2,000.
Most Common Types of Rental Fraud
If you find yourself looking for a rental, there are certain red flags to look out for. Knowing what types of scams are out there is one of the best ways to avoid rental fraud. Surveyed renters were asked to categorize their fraud experiences, and these are the most common types of scams listed from most common to least common.
The property advertised is different than the actual property, and the scammer tries to collect a deposit or get a lease signed for this property.
2. Phantom Rentals
The scammer makes up listings for places that don’t exist or aren’t rentals. Usually, they will attempt to lure you in with prices below market value.
3. Hijacked Ads
A fake landlord posts advertisements for a real property with altered contact information.
4. Missing Amenities
A real rental is listed as having features and amenities it actually lacks in order to collect higher rent. The leasing agent tries to get renters to sign the lease before they see that the amenities they expect aren’t actually available.
5. Already Leased
A real or fake landlord attempts to collect application fees or security deposits for a rental that has already been leased.
Along with the study, Apartment List also published a comprehensive guide with the top tips on avoiding rental fraud.
This is a collaborated post.