I Need to Check Out My Landlord and Make Sure He Is Legitimate

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7. Meet Your Landlord in Person

Yes, we are the platform that makes it possible to eSign the lease, pay rent and collect rent online, and even schedule the house tour online. However, once the tour is arranged and you come to see the apartment, you should meet the actual landlord — the homeowner and the person who has all the rights to rent out this place.

Any potential scammer will avoid a chance to show you the place and skip any kind of standard interactions, including property tours and lease signing, that a legitimate landlord usually prefers.

How to avoid rental scams

Avoiding rental scams will save you time, energy and money. Here are a few tips for how to avoid these deceptive listings.

Search the company online

Rental properties can be owned by companies or individuals. When you find a listing, research the owner to see what the online reviews say. If there aren’t any or if they have a bad reputation, you’ll want to steer clear.

Verify the address listed on rental sites

Verify the address listed on rental sites

All listings should have an address associated with them. Copy and paste this address into your preferred search engine to see what the street view of the home looks like. If there isn’t one or it looks different than the photos listed, the posting is probably fraudulent.

In addition, it’s not a good sign if the landlord is withholding the address. Don’t give away any personal information in exchange for a property address.

Be sure the listing is complete

Rental scams often have missing information. This may include typos throughout the post, a lack of property photos or no address. If the listing looks incomplete and sketchy, it probably is.

Is the price reasonable?

While we all like to find a deal, rentals don’t come half off. The property is likely to be a rental scam if the rent is well below the average in the area. Be sure to do research on what rentals in the area are going for so you can have that in mind when looking at properties.

Tour the property

Tour the property

Many scammers will refuse to show you the property until you pay a deposit. This is because they don’t have a legitimate property to show you in the first place.

Some excuses for why they can’t show you the property include being out of town or dealing with a family emergency. Regardless of what their scenario is, you should never put down a deposit without first having a real or virtual tour of the property.

Meet the landlord

If the landlord isn’t the one showing the property, inquire about who they are and how they can be contacted. If the person doesn’t have these details, it’s likely they are involved in a renting-for-the-owner scam.

Don’t feel pressured

A scammer may try to put you in a time crunch. They will tell you the property has had a lot of interest and that you need to put down a deposit immediately to claim the property. While properties do move fast, don’t let this pressure keep you from making rational decisions.

Take a thorough look at the lease

Take a thorough look at the lease

Once you’ve viewed the property and your application is accepted, you’ll be asked to sign a lease. It’s important to look over all the components of the lease to ensure it includes everything that you’ve agreed on. If you have any concerns, be sure to bring these to the attention of your landlord before signing.

Never pay cash

Whether you are paying for an application fee, deposit or rent, be sure you don’t pay in cash. There needs to be a way to track the money you’ve sent and get it back if needed. Also, if you are wiring money or disclosing bank information, be sure that you’ve verified it as a legitimate company.

The first UK landlord checking service

RentProfile is a new free service tenants can use to check their landlord on the go, using their mobile phone or the property address. The website just got launched but already has 1000+ landlords on record, growing every day.

If you go ahead and search your landlord, it’s likely that it wont turn up a result, but in the near future, this may become the to go resource for checking your landlord. Alternatively, the company provides a thorough background check on any landlord, regardless if they are included in the directory or not, for just £9. This is typically the same price your landlord will pay to get you credit checked. (or make you pay)

If you’re pleased with your landlord, you can suggest them to sign up right now. As a landlord, everybody should aim to be cleared on as many services as they can possibly find. RentProfile is free and aims to become a major tenant resource in the near future, so really, why not ?

Ask Neighbors in Nearby Buildings

Other people and businesses in the neighborhood may know something about the reputation of the building and its tenants, landlord, or manager. Be sure to ask about crime in the neighborhood—both on the street and apartment break-ins, as well as other incidents requiring a police response. Ask if tenants seem to stay more than a year—if so, that’s the mark of a well-run building.

3. Get to know your (future) neighbors

If you’re moving into an apartment complex with multiple units, take a few minutes to walk around the grounds out of earshot of the landlord.

If you see any tenants out and about, strike up a conversation about what it’s like to live there. Ask how long they’ve lived there — renewed leases are a good sign of a positive landlord-tenant relationship. Get a few pros and cons, ask how complaints are handled, and find out if they have any gripes about management.

If you’re moving into a single-family home, ask the landlord if they’d mind you having a conversation with the current tenants.

If you don’t have access to any other tenants, find a neighborhood-specific blog or Facebook group to join. Tell people you’re thinking of moving into the area, and ask if they know anything about the property manager.

Google the Landlord or Manager

It may seem obvious, but it’s a good idea to Google the owner and/or property manager, and even the address. If the property has been in the news lately, you’ll read all about it, and chances are, the story won’t always be positive. Likewise with the owner or manager— you don’t want to rent a place whose management has been the subject of a feature article on the woes of renting.

5. Ask to see the EPC

An EPC is an ‘Energy Performance Certificate’.  It lasts 10 years. If the landlord is legit, he or she should definitely have one. You can check to see if an EPC is legit using this online tool. There’s some guidance around EPCs from an official, legit gov.uk site here. If the landlord doesn't have an EPC, gives you a fake, or doesn't know what an EPC is, you've found yourself an non-legit rental and non-legit landlord.

Make Sure the Home Is Not In Foreclosure

Ask the landlord if the property is in foreclosure or going into foreclosure. Some states, including California, require landlords to inform renters when this happens. If you think the landlord might be hiding something, you can check the current status of the property in the clerk’s office at the county courthouse. If the property is in foreclosure, you will find documents showing that a foreclosure suit has been filed. A “notice of default” notation indicates that the landlord has not been making payments and the property is close to foreclosure.

2. Take a builder friend with you when you look around

If you’re planning on paying £1,000 per month to rent this place, over a year that adds up to £12,000. I know, we’re really good at maths. But think about it, that’s twelve grand, 12 stacks of £1,000. That’s shitloads of money. If you were going to buy a car for £12,000 you’d probably try and find one of your mates who was ‘good at cars’ to come with you to kick the tyres. Your home is arguably more important than a car, so take someone with you who knows what to look out for. Dave the Mechanic could save you from buying a rusty banger – find a builder equivalent.

Some frauds are more sophisticated than others

The most simplistic frauds involve people copying legitimate apartment ads off the internet and re-posting them with their own contact information. When a potential tenant contacts the poster, he makes excuses for not having access to the property and asks the tenant to rent it sight-unseen or at least to pay a deposit to reserve the unit. Once the scammer gets money from the tenant, he disappears.

More complicated scams involve criminals that actually have access to the apartment. The huge rash of foreclosures has led to many vacant buildings that are primed for fraudulent schemes. The criminal simply breaks into the building, changes the locks, and is actually able to show the building to potential renters. There have even been cases where the tenant moved in, only to later be told by a bank or real estate agent that the property does not belong to the scammer.

What is Rentberry?

Rental Service

Rentberry unites landlords and tenants to make their rental experience fair, secure and transparent.

Price Negotiation Platform

Affordable rent is not a myth. Negotiate the final price with your potential landlord and find a common ground together.

Time-Saving Tools Having your whole rental experience in one place is real. Sign electronic agreements and rent a perfect place in a few clicks.

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