The combination of new technology and old tricks can make it easy for scammers to get one over on us. The best defense against potential apartment scams is education and preparation! There are a few things to look out for when renting an apartment which can alert you to a possible hoax. Once you know how to avoid apartment scams you’ll be even more prepared to find a place to rent.
How To Avoid Apartment Scams
Familiarize yourself with common techniques used by scammers to prey on prospective renters. By remaining vigilant you can prevent your rental experience, or worse — your credit score – from quickly going downhill.
When you know the red flags to look for when renting an apartment, you can avoid being taken advantage of. This way, you’ll feel confident in your decision once you decide to sign a rental agreement.
6 Things To Look Out For When Renting An Apartment
- Inability to tour the community or complex. The first thing to do when considering a potential apartment is to see the complex or community in person. The best property management companies will offer information sessions to prospective residents. While not all apartments will be viewable before you move in, you can still evaluate the condition of the complex, the staff, and the amenities by seeing them all yourself. Attending an open house is a great first step and can provide insight into the transparency of your future landlord, but it doesn’t guarantee that the process is legitimate. It’s important to remember that plenty of apartment scammers have access to the properties they’re attempting to pass off as their own.
- No written lease agreement. When determining what to look for in an apartment, the presence of a lease might seem like a no-brainer. After all, you have to agree to something, right? Although some states, like Maryland, permit verbal lease agreements, it’s crucial that every part of your lease is documented in writing. In the event of a dispute between you and your landlord, you’ll need proof of the agreement.
- Unofficial sublease. While subleasing is a common practice, it is one of the most dangerous mistakes renters can make. Sub-lessees can find themselves in frustrating situations if their name is not officially on the signed lease agreement. Something as simple as getting a key if you’re locked out, or obtaining a parking permit for your vehicle can be difficult (if not impossible) when subleasing. If do you choose to sublease, make sure to do so officially, through the landlord.
- Minimal background check. Reputable property management companies and landlords will likely require credit and background checks to assess the level of risk involved in leasing to each prospective resident. No matter how trustworthy you may be or how eager you are to sign a lease, landlords should require some personal information from you. If you find that you’re dealing with a person or company that doesn’t inquire about a background check, or brushes past the subject, be wary.
- Intermediary property manager. One of the most easily identifiable red flags is the involvement of a middleman. Middleman apartment scams involve a third-party that claims to manage the apartment on behalf of the owners. Online scammers can steal images from a legitimate management company and create ads with the intention of extracting money, in the form of a deposit or rent, from eager apartment hunters. Always work with reputable property management companies or the owner directly, if possible.
- A deal too good to be true. If you stumble across an amazing property with ridiculously low rent, it could be an indicator that something is off. In short, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you find an amazing “deal” that includes any of the other red flags listed above, take caution. Keep in mind that there are plenty of ways to find a good deal on an apartment which don’t carry the potential to harm you, your rental experience, or your credit score.
Avoid Apartment Scams By Choosing Southern Management
The only way to rent with confidence is to choose a trusted property management company. With 75 apartment communities and more than 25,000 apartment homes, we know a thing or two about helping people find beautiful, affordable places to call home.
We’d love to tell you about the Southern Difference and answer all of your questions about availability, pricing, short-term leases, and more. If you’re on the hunt for an apartment and you want to be sure you have legitimate options, reach out to our team today!