Protect yourself against frauds when searching for rental apartments
The search for a rental apartment can be an arduous process presenting numerous difficulties. Not only is it hard to know where to start, but there are thousands of ads to navigate on sites like Louer.com, all while being mindful of fraud.
Fraudulent rental ads are posted in order to scam others. These people obtain rent deposits or personal information, but have no housing to lease. There are unfortunately few recourse options for the victims of such scams, as they are often impossible to retrace. Furthermore, if personal information has been shared with the scammer, a series of consequences will usually follow. This scammer may use the information on other sites, or to scam others.
Knowing how to recognize these fraudulent ads becomes a priority in order not to waste time or money.
Several hints can help unmask a fraudulent ad from a real one. Please be wary of the following aspects:
- It is difficult to contact the poster by phone. Either there is no answer, the number does not work, or no number is associated with the ad post. Communication happens only through writing and the poster does not seek to speak over the phone.
- Once contacted by email, the renter tells you a story about being out of the country, and that a family member will give you the gives at the time given. The same story is repeated across many ads and names, with some details changing. Even if the story seems believable, be wary in this case, especially if the following points are also present
- This person requests personal information by email before a visit happens or having met you. Official forms exist for credit checks, and renters usually prefer communicating by phone or in person at least once when they are at this step.
- A deposit transfer is requested. This is the most evident sign. A payment is required before signing a lease. According to the Régie du Logement, a renter cannot ask for a deposit on rental property, even in order to place a hold on it. The only payment to be made is the first month of rent when signing the lease. Never transfer money over the internet, especially not before signing a lease. Lately, it is possible to access money transferred without the password. Scammers therefore ask for a transfer, promising they will not be able to take the money until you pass on the password to someone on location when visiting, which is false.
- Everything looks too good to be true. Finding a luxury furnished apartment all included at 500$ a month in Downtown Montreal can seem like a dream come true. However, the average rent for a studio apartment in downtown Montreal is around 1000$, non furnished, non heated. It is important to be aware of the average rent price in the neighborhood in which you’re looking to rent. Any apartment seeming very affordable can hide something, whether it’s a scam or other problems in the building (insect, difficult neighbors, building in bad condition).
Certaines étapes simples existent afin de reconnaître une annonce frauduleuse.
- Do not transfer any money before signing a lease. Ask to see the apartment before signing anything.
- Search for the address of the apartment to see if it’s posted on other sites, if the information corresponds, and if the place is really for rent. Some scammers steal other people’s identity, so even a search for that person’s name or their story might seem true. For example, this person could claim to be a doctor residing in the United States, and a doctor with that same name from the United States can be found with a quick search.
- Report the fraudulent ad to the website you’ve found it on so they can remove it and protect others looking for rentals like you.
If something seems wrong, don’t hesitate to move onto the next interesting rental opportunity. It is better to take a little more time with the search than losing months of rent!
It can be very discouraging to lose what seems like a perfect apartment for a low price, but the perfect place can still be a few clicks away. Since 2004, Louer.com has thousands of detailed rental ads and offers a quick and efficient communication method directly with property owners, as well as a search system offering many criteria in order to optimize the search for a new home. On top of offering the option of flagging any suspicious ads, the site displays the status "Verified" for all accounts that have been confirmed with Louer.ca. The verification process requires that the property owners provide a notarial act of acquisition, a utility bill or a bank statement. The postal addresses are then confirmed to insure their validity, as well as all provided phone numbers and email addresses. All official documents are reviewed to ensure that visitors feel safe knowing they are in contact with the real owner. Knowing all this, do not hesitate to begin your search for a new apartment for rent!