Unfortunately, in today’s world, we’re all too familiar with the word scam. As defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary it’s “a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation”. Sadly, this is something that we have been hearing about more and more in the rental world.
In the city of Brandon, there are hundreds of rental options available. Some are managed by property management companies and some are managed by private individuals or unlicensed property managers. There are many local investors and small business owners that are doing a great job of self-managing their properties, however, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the bunch.
A new trend that has surfaced recently is rental scams. A rental scam is when someone advertises an apartment for rent that either doesn’t exist or the person who is promoting the property is not the true property manager/landlord. The con artist will go to great lengths to appear legitimate. Their end goal is to collect your personal information (identify theft), get a deposit of funds or both.
As Vionell Holdings is a licensed property management company, we have procedures that we follow to qualify our tenants. We are looking for renters who are financially qualified, responsible, and respectable. Of course, we get the occasional tenant that is perhaps not ideal, but we at least made the effort to find good neighbours for our existing tenants.
As we continue to hunt for ideal tenants, as a renter or potential renter you should be on the hunt for an ideal property manager. As we screen renters, you should screen the property manager to ensure you don’t fall prey to a rental scam. Some things to watch out for, include:
- Look for ads that are posted by a reputable, preferably licensed, property management company. These companies are legitimate and are required to follow guidelines that protect not only them but you as well.
- If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Under market rent? No application processing? No credit checks or screening? Is the landlord eager to request a deposit before obtaining information from you? Perhaps, a little too convenient, don’t you think? Remember these imposters may not even want your personal information and are just out to get a quick deposit. They’ll often create a sense of urgency to encourage you to send them money without thinking it through.
- NEVER send a security deposit to hold a unit via e-transfer if you do not know the property management company or the landlord. It also wouldn’t be advised to put down a deposit on a unit that you haven’t physically been in. As well, do not send a deposit even if the landlord has ensured you that it is refundable.
- Ask for references from past or current tenants. If a property manager is legitimate, this shouldn’t be a problem. If they hesitate or are not able to provide any, it is likely that you should continue your search for a different property.
- Use Google maps as a tool to ensure the property exists, especially if you’re not all that familiar with Brandon. If you are able to, it’s a good idea to drive by the property. However, keep in mind that just because it exists does not mean the person advertising the property owns it or is responsible for it.
- Never provide personal information in response to an ad. Contact the person or company that published the ad by telephone and ask to view the property. Provide your name and contact information (telephone number or email), but nothing more. There is no need to provide any other personal information in order to view a property.
- If you do find a property that you feel ready to commit to, do not give out your social insurance number. A standard application does not require this, nor is it required for screening and credit checks.
- When apartment hunting, visits the websites of property management companies. They will have vacancies posted that you can safely assess. If you find a property that suits your needs schedule a time to view the property in person with the property manager or leasing agent.
Article by Katie McMillan. Find her on LinkedIn here!