How to Avoid Rental Scams in New York City
The dynamic nature of the New York real estate market has made it a breeding ground for con artists looking to take advantage of unsuspecting renters. In this article, we share some golden nuggets on how to avoid rental scams in New York City.
With demand for affordable apartments outweighing supply, many renters are likely to walk straight into a scammer’s intricate web as they look to snap up any available listing that meets their budget.
And while swift action is a virtue when it comes to house hunting, it is important to tread carefully when searching for a place to stay as there are many wheeler-dealers who live for these moments.
Here are a few tips on how to avoid rental scams in New York City.
Check for misleading listings
One of the most common scams you will most likely face is what’s known as bait-and-switch.
This involves agents and/or brokers creating listings of attractive apartments offered at competitive prices, but in reality, things on the ground are very different.
When you ask to view the apartment, the agent will probably inform you that the said apartment has already been snapped up and that there are other good options in the vicinity you could check out.
The bait-and-switch tactic is but an underhand ploy to lure apartment seekers.
Confirm the address
In addition to using fake images meant to reel in renters, some rental websites will also post listings without the precise location details.
Scam listings do come complete with location details too, you see. But often the case, this is not the exact address. Some ads might include an intersection or street, but not the precise address.
Keep an eye out for such information and use it to do your own preliminary research. You can make use of websites like CityRealty and StreetEasy to do your own sleuthing.
Cross-check details on the listing with those you will find on these resources – photos, listed amenities, price, number of bedrooms, etc.
Check the listing’s time on the market
Another good tip on how to avoid rental scams in New York City.
If you see what comes across as a great listing but it has been on the market for months, this could be a tell-tale sign that it is a stale listing or something is wrong with the apartment.
Make use of the provision on most properties websites that allow you to check how old a listing is.
While you are at it, also consider checking the number of times the apartment has been on and off the market through the months.
Watch out for faux sublets
Unscrupulous types sometimes could try subletting a place they have no rights to.
There have been incidences where, for instance, scammers have sublet an apartment on Airbnb and listed it on Craiglist only to go underground after collecting deposits from multiple interested clients.
If you suspect anything fishy regarding a sublet, ask the tenant for a copy of the lease to ascertain they have the right to sublet.
Be careful of the “requests to wire funds”
This is another old trick in the book that many out-of-towners still fall for.
If you are being asked to wire money before you have seen the apartment or been promised a lease, chances are someone is out to take advantage of you. Run fast and don’t look back.
These tips on how to avoid rental scams in New York City should get you started. However, always remember that con artists are always looking to reinvent their ways to stay ahead of the game.
Therefore, by staying on top of these con games, you decrease your chances of falling prey to them.