Apartment and Home Rental Scam Alert

In this tight housing market, scammers are out there looking to take advantage of unwitting renters. DA Nancy O’Malley wants anyone in the rental market to be cautious when looking to rent an apartment or house. Be vigilant and aware of warning signs and red flags.

1. THE PRICE IS TOO LOW – Scammers will try to entice potential victims with below market pricing on an apartment. Often, a below market price will be explained away with emergency circumstances, such as international relocation or foreign job opportunities.

2. THE PROPERTY IS NOT BEING SHOWN – Beware of situations where you are not given the opportunity to see the property. This is a red flag that either the property doesn’t exist or that the person does not have legal access to the property. Also be suspicious of a person who will meet you outside of a property but won’t show you the inside. This is also an indication that the person does not have the legal right to rent the property.

3. A DEPOSIT IS REQUIRED BEFORE YOU CAN SEE THE APARTMENT – Anytime someone wants you to electronically transfer money, whether by app, wire, money order, or prepaid debit card, you should automatically be skeptical. Once the money is transferred, it is almost impossible to get the money back. You should not be charged a fee to see a property, and never send a deposit for a property that is “sight unseen.”

People in the housing market can safeguard themselves by taking a few easy steps.

1. Avoid listings that priced significantly below market and seem like a “deal.”

2. Make sure you can tour the outside and inside of any property before you rent it.

3. Never send money electronically if you have not seen a property, even if you have signed a lease for it.

4. Get the name, address, and phone number of the person you’re dealing with and do a basic internet search of the person and property to see if things match up.

If you encounter a suspicious listing or have been the victim of a rental scam, please contact the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office at 510-383-8600 or make a complaint online at https://www.alcoda.org/cewpd/complaint_forms

Posted on Mar 10, 2020