The High Desert Arizona 233

Real Estate Scams | Stealing From Tenants

About a week ago I received a phone call from a college student who was in the process of securing a rental for the coming school year. A couple of students had gotten together, decided to become room mates for the following school year and were in the process of previewing potential rentals.

These young men had found a home for rent that met their budget and was located within reasonable proximity to school and work. They went to look at the home and possibly secure an agreement for rental. They were unaccompanied by their parents. I mention that not because they weren’t responsible enough to do it themselves but because they could have easily been taken advantage of due to their lack of experience.

By the time one in the group called me they had been asked for 1,100 up front for back ground checks, with no signed contract involved. When they kept asking for a contract first the push got hard from the “owner” to get the money up front, first.

The more questions the tenants asked about the background check and the lease agreement, the shiftier the “owner” seemed to act. None of their questions were answered to any degree of satisfaction and when they went outside to speak privately the owner even crept over to a window and cracked it to eavesdrop. The whole situation felt wrong to them.

These young men had a gut instinct that was telling them something was fishy. They listened to the little voice that told them not to go forward with this property. Regardless of whether there suspicions of this being a scam were right or wrong they didn’t have enough information about the property, the owners or even the state of the mortgage to proceed. They kept their wallet closed and it was the right thing to do.

Whether you’re a college student or retiree looking for a rental you need to know that there are less than reputable people out there working any scam they can and that includes renting homes that aren’t even theirs to lease.

Most of the information tenants need to verify home ownership is actually public record. Before you shell out any cash for a rental, check the ownership of the home, the name in the tax roll or the clerks office and make sure it matches their photo ID. If the home is owned by a corporation or LLC check the sunbiz.org to see if the person is an officer of the company.

It’s just way too easy for a dishonest person to find a vacant home, even an ad for that particular home for sale online, scrape the pictures from the web and create their own “for rent by owner” advertisement in the classifieds or Craigslist.

A little bit of homework can save tenants a stack of cash if they’re dealing with a rental scam. Rentals are plentiful at this time, also. So if you’re feeling uneasy with a situation you may be better served by finding another rental with an owner willing to answer all your questions, properly document the lease and operate on up and up.

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Real Life in Bonita Springs is a project by Chris Griffith dedicated to writing useful blog posts for consumers about the Bonita Springs, Florida area.  Find out what it is really like to live in Bonita Springs, Florida by reading about our fair city. You’ll get the latest in local real estate information, Bonita Springs real estate market reports and a little bit of humor.  If you have topic ideas, feel free to request a story about the idea, after all, this site is just for you.

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