There’s doubting it: Finding an apartment in a major Canadian City can be stressful, to say the least. The search, the competition, the money upfront … they are all reasons most of us try to move as little as possible. (The additional expense and frustrations of moving all of your belongings also play a role.) However, sometimes the rental process goes from merely aggravating to actually down right criminal. While the vast majority of rental listings are legitimate, rental scams are out there, and they are not always easy to spot at first glance. “Recently, we’ve been talked to a lot of people in different cities around Canada and they are encountering a lot of fraud that doesn’t fit the historical norm. Here are the top Rental 6 rental scams in Canada right now.
Below are six of the most common rental scams in Canada, along with suggestions for how to avoid them.
1. Fake credit requests
The most common type of rental scam encountered in Canada involves convincing a renter to send a deposit, first month’s rent, or application fee before allowing them to see inside a unit or without meeting in person. For instance, you find a terrific online listing that seems as if it’ll be snatched up immediately, so the request for money upfront may not seem entirely out of this world. Unlike some scam listings of the past, which might include misspellings or photos taken from another site, these write-ups seem completely aboveboard. “Scammer/Fraudsters are constantly adapting to improve their odds of successfully stealing money from renters, so they’re making their fake listings look increasingly convincing. There shouldn’t be a cost for admission, so if you’re asked for cash up front, walk away. “There is never a reason to send money without viewing an apartment or meeting in person, especially if the request is for a money transfer. This is likely because it’s basically impossible to stop payment on a wire transfer, unlike a check or credit card payment.
2. Fake real estate agent services
Another common rental scam: fake real estate agent services. These services offer to generate a list of preforeclosure or rent-to-own rental properties for clients — appealing because of their lower price points — and then request either a sign-up fee or a monthly fee of up to $200. The list the client receives is usually full of sham real estate listings, either fake or expired, and it’s impossible to get a refund on the sign-up fee. Skip this one by searching rental listings for free on Homestoc.com!
3. Asking for money before you see the apartment
Another common rental scam involves a request for a credit report. Here’s how it works: The scammer posts a fake apartment listing online and asks to check the credit reports of potential renters using a link they provide or sometimes they will meet you in person. The link redirects to a credit report company that uses a referral program; the scammer can earn up to $18 per credit report request.
The credit report itself may be legit, but the need to obtain it in the first place isn’t, since the apartment listing is fake, to begin with. To avoid this scam, don’t release your credit report through a link from a potential landlord; instead, when you’re satisfied a landlord is legit, attain your credit report through one of the two credit-reporting agencies (TransUnion, and Equifax) and have a hard copy available for the landlord when you meet them.
4. A copied ad
Say a real landlord writes up a compelling listing for their newly vacant apartment and posts it online. A scammer can very easily copy and paste the listing but significantly lower the price, which will generate a LOT of interest. Otherwise known as a “clone scam,” this tactic is especially aimed at someone who’s busy or renting from out of town and is willing to put down money sight unseen.
Another clue will be a request for an unusually high-security deposit, since the scammer is seeking to steal as much money as possible, as fast as possible. “We try hard to make sure you never come across fraudulent listings, but if you come across a scam listing on Homestoc, report it to us so we can look into the issue and then get better at preventing them. You can use the Contact Us page and include the listing ID to report a suspicious property, and we will review the listing, remove it, and block other related scams. If you’ve been scammed, also contact your local law enforcement and file a complaint with the City Police or local RCMP.
5. Landlord that has gone MIA
The scenario: A scam artist finds a property that’s vacant because it’s bank-owned, it’s a vacant vacation home, or maybe it’s even being rented by the scammer, who plans to pull off this scheme several times over in a few days. They almost always insist they are out of the country, sick, or otherwise, but still want first, last, and a security deposit sent over ASAP. “Scammers love to claim that they’re out of the country and will mail you keys or arrange for a friend to drop them off once you wire them the first month’s rent. Don’t do it! Regardless of where they live, a legitimate landlord or property manager will be willing to arrange for someone to meet you and show you inside the unit.
6. Withholding your deposit
This happens all too often. A landlord behaves fine all through the duration of your lease. But when the time comes for you to move out, they get sketchy about the deposit, saying they will mail you a check that never arrives. Or they will claim excessive damages and that requires them to keep the security deposit to make the repairs. This happens even though you left the place in great shape. To avoid the latter, be sure to take photos and videos of the place right before you leave and, ideally, when you are moving in to prove you didn’t destroy the apartment. If the deposit still hasn’t materialized, send a certified-mail request for its return. If that doesn’t work, you might be looking at small claims court so contact your local law enforcement.