FEATURE: ILLUSTRATION BY MARIANA YATSUDA IKUTA
As law-abiding and polite as Canadians might be, there are a few bad apples out there who attempt to scam renters. Vancouver is no exception. In fact, given how hot the Vancouver rental market is, it is no surprise that you’ll discover that rental scams exist. Finding a place to rent in Vancouver is difficult enough and the last thing you want to deal with is financial or identity theft. Here are some tips to help you avoid common rental scams.
8 Tips for Avoiding Rental Scams
1. Too Good to be True
If the rental rate seems shockingly low, raise an eyebrow and do some comparison shopping. Look at comparable properties in the same neighbourhood to determine appropriate market value. It is possible that you have come across a good deal, but it is wise to do your due diligence first.
TIP: Check out our latest Vancouver Rental Stats: June Snapshot post and find average rental rates for comparable properties around the Lower Mainland.
2.Urgent Demand for Cash Deposit
You have no obligation to make any deposit until a lease is signed. If a landlord is pressuring you to send a cash deposit before viewing a place and signing a lease, DO NOT do so. If the heat is on to sign or send money, you should be suspicious. Legitimate businesses, especially in a hot rental market, have no need to pressure prospective tenants; they know you might need some time to make your decision.
3. Request for Too Much Information
You are only obligated to share contact information with a prospective landlord. DO NOT provide you SIN, credit card or bank account information. None of this information is required to rent a place.
4. Reluctance to use Traceable Payment Methods
Also, if a landlord seems reluctant to use traceable payment methods like cheque or e-transfer, be suspicious. It is for your protection to pay by a traceable means – it provides evidence that payments have been made.
5. Difficulty Arranging Viewings
If setting up a property viewing is problematic, this could be a sign the property doesn’t actually exist. If a landlord keeps switching viewing times or is a no-show, these are red flags. Fraudsters are reluctant to meet with their victims to avoid recognition and police descriptions (refer to the Vancouver Police Department’s post on Rental Scams).
Also be weary when viewings are difficult because the owner is allegedly in another country. They may send lengthy emails flattering your suitability and selling the value of their property – be suspicious. Have a look at some of this flagged correspondence by a fake landlord on rentboard.ca and be on guard for similar notes.
6. Address Details not Forthcoming
If the landlord is reluctant to provide an address or unit number, this is suspicious and may indicate the unit does not exist or that the images posted are for a different unit than the one available. Either way, it suggests duplicitous behaviour and bodes poorly for good landlord/tenant relations.
It is great if a landlord is friendly and you can develop an easy rapport with them. However, when it comes down to the business of leasing and paying for a property, a lease agreement is a must. Be wary if a landlord suggests there’s no need for a lease, a handshake is just fine – this is not true. You, as a tenant, need the protection of a lease agreement and a legitimate landlord should be willing to provide a lease agreement, their own contact info and references.
8. Listing Photos are Duplicated
If you see the same photos of a unit at a different address, this is a sure sign the property does not exist and the ‘fake’ landlord is simply posting stock photography alongside the fake listing.
~ Keep your eyes wide open and protect yourself from rental scams in Vancouver! ~