An unsuspecting renter responds to an advertisement for a rental home. The renter meets with an individual who identifies herself as the landlord. After viewing the property, the renter again meets with the landlord to deliver a sum of money (over $2000) to pay for rent and the initial damage deposit. The renter signs an agreement, is provided a key to the residence and a date to take occupancy.
The renter does move in to the residence and only becomes concerned when an individual arrives at the house, belongings in hand, as he too, has rented the home. The second renter met with likely the same landlord (at a different location) and paid nearly the same sum of money to rent the property.
Often times, as with this occurrence, the owner has others manage the rental of the property, or a sub-lease has been allowed with little documentation.
As a renter, there are some precautionary steps you can take to protect yourself from falling victim to scams such as this. First and foremost, apply common sense.
Ensure a proper tenancy agreement is drafted and signed by both parties. This agreement should include names and addresses for the landlord. Ask the landlord to show picture identification as proof he / she is the person named in the document. While it is not a requirement that they produce identification, the renter should be suspicious if they refuse.
As a renter, you might consider asking to see previous utility bills for the residence to confirm identity of the landlord.
Choose a currency method other than cash for payment of rent or deposits. Consider payment by personal cheque, money order, bank draft, or certified cheque.
For general information relating to entering into a tenancy or ending a tenancy, please visit the BC Residential Tenancy Site.
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