While the internet makes it easy to find apartments for rent, it also creates an environment where rental scams thrive. A rental scam is when a property owner misrepresents themselves or the listing to rip off a potential tenant. Use this guide to help you recognize and avoid rental scams while searching for a place to live.

Types of Rental Scams

  • Hijacked ads: The scammer steals information from a real listing and changes important details, such as the price and the contact name and phone number. This way, when you call to learn more, you reach the scammer instead of the actual property owner.
  • Phantom rentals: The scammer creates a fake ad and promotes it as real. They may list a low price to entice victims to get in touch.
  • Illegal subletting: The scammer wants out of their lease, so they attempt to sublet the unit, even though their contract prohibits this.

How to Spot a Rental Scam

  • The listing has typos and excessive grammatical or punctuation errors.
  • The price seems too good to be true because it’s way below market price but appears to offer great amenities.
  • The landlord refuses to meet you. They may not even show their face during video calls.
  • The landlord proceeds without conducting a background check or credit inquiry.
  • The landlord asks you to pay by cash or wire because these transactions are untraceable.

How to Avoid Rental Scams

  • Use an apartment locating service with verified listings. Rental scams are common on sites like Craigslist, where anyone can post an ad. Stick to legitimate sites that only show verified listings.
  • Do a Google image search to spot hijacked ads. If you come across the same listing on another site with a different price, landlord name, and contact information, don’t apply. Instead, report the suspicious ad to the local authorities.
  • Refuse to sign the lease until you meet the landlord and see the apartment, even if it’s in a virtual setting. Such transparency helps you know you’re getting what you see in the rental listing.
  • Ask for proof of property ownership, such as a title deed, for confidence that the rental is legitimate. Make sure the lease identifies the property owner as well.
  • Sign a written lease that details the rent amount, fees, maintenance, and other terms before paying anything. Ask for a copy of the lease to keep for your records.

At Apartment Locating Specialists, transparency is at the core of everything we do. We’ll never point you toward a hijacked ad or phantom rental, and you can always contact us with questions about a listing you find in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. There’s nothing more comforting than knowing we’ve got your back during the apartment hunting process. Best of all, our apartment locating services are completely free—we even offer a cash rebate after you move! Begin your apartment search today, or call us at (817) 685-7368 for more information.