FCAA warns about rise in fake rental property scams

Prospective renters need to be on the lookout for fake real estate listings and make sure they’re dealing with a legitimate landlord.

That’s according to the Financial Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan (FCAA), which issued a press release on Tuesday warning about the rise in fraudulent rental agreements.

“Rental scammers are inventive and unscrupulous,” FCAA Insurance and Real Estate Division Executive Director Jan Seibel said in the press release.

“It’s important to watch for red flags and make sure you are dealing a legitimate person.”

Seibel said fake landlords often lure unwary would-be renters by posting pictures of legitimate properties downloaded from real rental advertisements. The fraudsters then use these photos to create fake real estate listings.

Seibel said rental scammers will ask their would-be tenants to sign a fake lease agreement and send payment to “cover rent for the first month and provide a security deposit.” Once they receive the payment, the scammers disappear, leaving the victim without access to the property.

Residents looking for a home or apartment to rent should vet the person they are dealing with, Seibel said, and make sure they meet in person. An unwillingness to meet in person is a “significant red flag.”

Seibel said residents should also be warry if landlords request money right away without a background check or having a formal rental agreement in place. Security deposits and rental payments should never be paid until you have seen the property.

Prospective renters should also check if the rental price is in keeping with the going rate in the area.

“As with many other types of scams, if something seems too good to be true it generally is,” reads the FCAA press release.

“A legitimate landlord will be forthcoming with information about the rental process, ask questions and make sure to get clear information.”