Most Common Rental Scams and How to Avoid Them 

Most Common Rental Scams and How to Avoid Them 

Written by Deepak Bhagat, In Real Estate, Published On
July 14, 2023

Finding a place to rent is much like going on an adventure. Every rental listing seems to hold the promise of a new home. From browsing countless rooms for rent to checking out the neighborhoods, finding the perfect place to become your sanctuary can take effort and time.

Renting a house or a room offers a range of benefits, such as the freedom to explore different neighborhoods, the flexibility to move out with new opportunities, and avoiding the responsibilities of homeownership. However, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, the number of rental scams reported in the past few years has grown greatly. In 2021 alone, there was a whopping 61% increase from the previous year in these scams. This post tells you about the most common rental scams encountered by renters or seekers.

Most Common Rental Scams Faced By Renters and Seekers

In the sea of endless rental listings, it can become hard to determine which ones are genuine and which are scams. By understanding the nature of such scams and taking necessary preventive measures, you can stay alert and ensure a smooth and secure rental experience.

Fake Rental Listings

The easiest way fraudsters scam people is by creating fake rental listings. They use stolen or fake property photos and write attractive descriptions to entice prospective clients. To avoid escaping becoming a victim of such fraud, research the property thoroughly and cross-reference the information on multiple platforms. You can also do a reverse image search to check if the property images are stolen from some other legitimate listings. If possible, visit the property in person to confirm the authenticity of the listing. Stay alert for deals that seem too good to be true.

Wire Transfer Scams

Another common way fraudsters scam people is by asking for upfront payments and disappearing once the payment is received. Remember to never pay any amount via wire transfer to any individual or landlord you have not met or are unsure about. Genuine landlords ask for other modes of payment, such as cheques or other safe online payments. Ensure you know the legitimacy and identity of the person you pay before making any financial transactions.

Identity Theft

Scammers do not just dupe you for your money. They can also steal your personal information. Therefore, stay alert and do not divulge personal information during the rental process, such as social security numbers, bank account details, etc. Scammers may tell you that they need certain information to carry out some legalities of the rental procedure.

Ensure you do not provide sensitive information without verifying the authenticity of the landlord or the rental service provider. If you provide information, ensure you use secure platforms or encrypted channels. You can also give virtual phone numbers or e-addresses initially to maintain privacy.h

Rental Deposit Scams

These scams involve fraudsters asking for a deposit payment before signing a lease or viewing the property. Once the payment is made, the scammer quickly disappears without leaving a way for you to recover the money deposited. Therefore, stay cautious with people who try to rush you into making payments without proper documentation. Always ask for a legally sound lease document and a receipt for the payment made.

Rental Property Sight Unseen

Finalizing a property without viewing it is one of the grave mistakes people make. Always insist on visiting the property in person, inspecting the location, and verifying the genuineness of the deal. If you can not personally visit the location, you can ask a trusted representative to do so. If nothing else, arrange a virtual tour or a video call to ensure the property exists and matches the information initially provided. If all these are not possible, you can always find a shared property where someone is looking for a roommate.

Subletting Scams

Subletting scams have also become rampant. Individuals pose as tenants and offer to sublet their place when they do not have any right to do so. Avoid these scams by requesting to meet the primary leaseholder or actual homeowner. Verify the details and ask for proper documentation, such as sublease agreements, etc., to ensure everything is legal and authentic.

Phishing Scams

Many scammers use phishing to collect personal information or financial details by posing fake inquiries. They might make calls, send emails or even create fake websites to convince prospective victims and scam them. Therefore, any email asking for sensitive information should be verified before making progress. Always avoid clicking on unfamiliar links or emails that redirect you to unsecured and unfamiliar websites.

Overpayment Scams

Some scams involve overpayment. The fraudsters send you a cheque or a money order higher than discussed and ask the renter to refund the surplus amount. It looks like they have overpaid you, but once you return the excess amount, their original payment bounces. Thus, you will be duped with your money. Be wary of any such requests, and first, check with your bank to confirm you have received extra payment before refunding anything.

False Landlords or Agents

Fake landlords and rental agents have scammed many people. These scammers pose as agents and landlords and try to strike a deal with you. Therefore, you should always verify their legitimacy and request identification and credentials. You can also research their background and ask for documents that authorize them to represent the property. Be wary of those who seem hasty and refuse to meet in person.

Unsecured Online Rental Platforms

Always choose secure and trustworthy rental platforms for your search. If you are looking for properties online, use reputable platforms that provide security and do not ask for sensitive information. You can also read their testimonials and reviews and check their terms of service and other policies. Doing so gives you a better understanding of how your information is protected.


Renting makes having the place of your dreams easier for many. But just like any great adventure, you need to stay aware and careful when finding a new place for yourself. With rental scams increasing yearly, you must stay vigilant and avoid becoming a victim of fraudulent schemes. Understand the above-mentioned points carefully and look for a reliable rental house finder. Now that you have read about some of the most common rental scams, you can begin renting diligently and confidently.

Related articles
Join the discussion!