False owner scenario
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. They are provided a key to the residence and a date to take occupancy.
The renter moves 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.
Often times, the owner has others manage the rental of the property, or a sub-lease has been allowed with little documentation.
Rental deposit scams
This scam usually involves an individual who is actively seeking a rental property. The suspect advertises a property and explains that the property is really high in demand. In order to secure the property, the suspect demands the potential renter to send a deposit without viewing the property. In some cases, the suspect asks for personal information and an e-transfer without meeting in person. Once the information and money are received, the suspect usually ends communication with the renter.
Avoid being scammed
As a renter, there are some precautionary steps you can take to protect yourself from falling victim to scams such as this.
- Go to the address to ensure that the listing is truthful and accurate. Use the Internet to see actual images of the rental. Arrange to do a walk through of the unit.
- Research the address to ensure it is not a duplicate post. You can conduct a reverse image search to see if the photos were used elsewhere.
- If you plan on renting in a new development, contact the builder to confirm ownership.
- 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.
- Choose a currency method other than cash for payment of rent or deposits.
- Do not send money or provide credit card information to someone without verifying what you are paying for.
- Ask a trusted friend or family member for their opinion on the advertisement.
Be suspicious if:
- The monthly rent is lower than other similar places
- You're asked to leave a deposit without any formal rental agreement or lease in place
- You're asked to send money to someone outside the country
- When you ask about the property, you get an email that sends you to a website asking for personal or financial information
- Ads show pictures of the outside of the property only, or pictures that don't match the actual property or address
- The landlord does not meet you in person
- The landlord does not require credit or reference check
- The name of the landlord is not on the rental documents
For general information relating to entering into a tenancy or ending a tenancy, please visit the BC Residential Tenancy Site. Additionally, you can review and familiarize yourself with the Residential Tenancy Act.
For a list of current scams or to report on-line fraud, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
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