5.2 Million People Were Affected By Renter Fraud. Learn How To Not Sound Like A Scammer.
In recent years, rental fraud has become more common and is affecting not only renters, but landlords as well. Unknowingly, you might be posting listings that appear fraudulent, causing you to miss out on a lot of potential leads. In a new study, Apartment List found that an estimated 5.2 million U.S. renters have lost money due to a rental scam. In addition, 43.1 percent of surveyed renters, have encountered scam listings or contacted fraudulent properties while apartment hunting.
The issue is especially prominent among millennials, who although generally tend to be more tech-savvy than their older counterparts, often lack the necessary skills to recognize fraudulent postings. To be exact, renters aged 18 to 29 years, are 42 percent are more likely to fall victim to fraud, probably due to a lack of renting experience or moving quite far from home and not being able to visit their new places before the move-in date.
This results in an estimated 88.3 percent of renters with negative renting experiences, changing how they search for their future home. Renters are naming additional research as the most common change in their methodology when searching for a new apartment. Others say that visiting the location before paying the lease or the deposit has become their go-to practice.
As we said, a red flag or two might be an innocent oversight from any well-meaning manager. So, to ensure that your property posting looks the best it can, we’ve put together the following checklist to help you avoid being confused with a scam artist:
- Include an Address or Photos: Adding photos may be a painstaking process, but it is worth it! Listings lacking an address or photos tend to appear fake or untrustworthy, whereas those with visuals are seen as being more credible.
- Be Consistent With Your Listings: By that, we mean be consistent with your listings throughout all the websites! When you’re trying to get your property out there, it is highly likely that you’ve been posting listings on various apartment websites. So, make sure that property details and contact information provided match across all of your listings!
- Too-Good-to-Be-True Numbers: Being competitive sure is key, but if you are offering below-market value prices for units in your area, explain why the price range is lower or make it a special offer. “Luxury” properties being offered at unbelievably low prices are often seen as being, well…unbelievable. These types of posts are often overlooked due to being seen as scammy.
- Include Screening Details: Scammers will often advertise properties with zero screening requirements in order to attract renters who might be having a harder time finding a spot due to other circumstances, e.g. a criminal record or poor credit score. Make sure to outline your screening process to look more legitimate. This will also give your potential renters a heads up, which will be also greatly appreciated.
- Mention Apartment Tours: A large portion of renters who have been previously victimized by scammers, now choose to meet their potential landlord and visit the apartment prior to signing the lease. Most scammers will pretend to be on vacation or out of town to avoid face-to-face contact with potential victims before papers are signed. Mention that you are open to giving apartment tours.
- Be Verifiable: You want to be easily verifiable by potential renters. Make sure to add both your full name to your listings. Many savvy renters try to investigate city records and reaching out to the building’s manager in order to verify that you really are the property’s owner.
- Ask For Traceable Forms of Payments: Scammers usually ask for forms of payment which are hard to track, such as cash. Make sure to keep a paper trail of all money- and not only related transactions to help you sleep better at night.