Four Things You Need to Know About Apartment Rental Scams

If you’re in the market for luxury apartment rentals, you’re probably feeling that pressure to just grab a furnished apartment before someone else does. After all, 33% of all those who rent will be moving each year, and it can be hard to find the right place. If you have pets, for example, this can cause all kinds of problems; in 2014, two thirds of pet owners reported that they had a hard time finding a rental that would let them bring their pets. All the pressure and stress of finding a place can make you feel like you have to say yes before you’re ready. Before you pull the trigger on any luxury apartment rentals, here are some scams you need to know about and avoid.

Fake Sublet Opportunities

It’s a common scam: sublets offered on gorgeous luxury apartment rentals. Only problem? The person offering the sublet doesn’t actually rent the place. They’re actually subletting themselves, and to make money in their last few weeks there they offer it up to as many parties as possible as if they’re the actually primary renter. They collect deposits and vanish into the sunset. If anything at all seems weird about a sublet, be suspicious. Check out Airbnb and make sure the property isn’t up there. Ask to see the lease and the ID of the person offering the sublet before you do anything else. It’s also a good idea to talk to the landlord directly.

Fake Luxury Apartment Rentals

Forget the fake sublet: people will even try to fake a primary rental on apartments and townhomes. The most common form of this trick is the classic bait and switch. You respond to ads for luxury apartment rentals only to find yourself being pushed to take a totally different apartment. The big key here is a price that seems too good to be true. If you’re looking at apartments, you know the general market. Don’t fall for a scam that offers you the moon. Also be wary of application fees at open houses: some “agents” simply collect these and then disappear.

Unbelievable Amenities

Is it five minutes to the subway? Make sure you confirm that this is actually true before you plunk down any money. If the listing has been up for a long time, be sure to ask pointed questions, even if you feel embarrassed. You need to know what’s wrong with it that it hasn’t rented yet. Ask to see floor plans, talk to landlords, and make sure you check out everything carefully before you start spending money.

Avoid the Scams Altogether

The best way to make sure you’ll never be taken in by scams is get a trustworthy real estate company to help you find the apartment you really want. Though you will have to pay a brokerage fee, that’s nothing compared to what you’ll lose if you get scammed, which will take your money, waste your time, and steal your dignity.

What are you looking for in luxury apartment rentals? Whatever you value most, make sure you get what you really want and avoid getting taken in by scammers. Check out listings carefully, ask smart questions, and don’t be afraid to get a broker to make sure you and your money are safe.

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