If you’re looking to buy or sell your home, or even if you’re the top realtor in Las Vegas, it’s always good to brush up on important real estate processes.
Rental scams are becoming increasingly prevalent, especially in Las Vegas. Many scammers will pressure you into the fastest sale possible with the least amount of identifying information. With the real estate industry slowly moving to the digital world, it’s easy to find an offer that is too good to be true.
You should avoid signing a rental agreement if it is:
Through a “middleman.” This is the most common rental scam. Scammers will often tell you that they are representing the real owner and insist on taking your payments on their behalf. They could easily have taken photos of someone else’s home when in reality they have no access to it. Be careful of this type of scam. Demand verification that you are working with the owner, and if they fight you, they might have something to hide.
Without doing your homework. Look up reviews, contact info, and any intel you can find. Run a Google Image search of the place and see where else it’s being advertised. Conduct market research and see if the price is too good to be true. Is the platform you found the landlord on reliable? Does it verify its users? People are good about whistle-blowing scams on the internet, but if you find scant information, your alarm should still be going off.
Without them asking for info from you. If they keep pushing the sale without making sure you’re good for it through a background check and credit report, they are likely scamming you. Decent landlords will do their research on you too. So if the landlord comes across like they don’t care who you are and that you should just buy, buy, buy...it’s bye, bye, bye!
Without seeing the homeownership papers. You have every right to see the tenant’s homeownership documents proving that they have ownership of the home they are renting out to you. This should not be a demanding request to them at all. If they refuse to provide these documents, walk away.
Without seeing the place. You wouldn’t buy a house without seeing it, would you? Don’t rent a place without seeing it first. Scammers will avoid letting you see it in person and might try to entice you with fake photos. You have every right to see what you’re renting. Any landlord who is less than eager to show the place should be dropped.
Without meeting the landlord. Insist that you see the landlord in person before signing anything. Landlords should be excited to shake your hand, show you the place, and close the deal in person with you. If they refuse at all costs, you’ve got a telltale sign of a scam.
Without signing in person. Make sure you sign the lease on physical paper, with the landlord sitting in front of you. Make sure they sign all the parts they must sign in front of you. Get a copy of everything you sign.
Without reading what you sign. It’s obvious, but don’t overlook it. Thoroughly read all documents you sign. Make sure the lease identifies the true homeowner. If there is more than one name, or a name different from the landlord’s, look into why. The reason could be fishy. Make sure the contract states the price you agreed to. They might change things up hoping you won’t notice.
In cash. A landlord that refuses to work with you unless you work only with cash is probably scamming you. Cash is ideal for scammers because it is harder to trace. Paying the last month or paying security deposit should not be done in cash.
Bottom line: Overall, your landlord should be happy to work with you and make you feel comfortable in your decision. Any appeals to emotion to make you feel pressured or unnecessarily urgent should tell your gut to say no. If they get unnecessarily angry and try to intimidate you, calmly stand your ground. Scammers will resort to anything for a sale.
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