This week veteran landlord, property manager and real estate investor Hank Rossi discusses what can happen if a rental property deal sounds too good to be true.

By Hank Rossi

I am a real estate broker dealing in rental properties.

A woman called saying she saw a property that had been listed for rent, but it had since been removed from advertising.  After she provided me with the address, I informed her that the property had in fact been removed from advertising because it had been rented.

She then told me that she was the one who had rented it.

This was confounding to me since I am the broker in charge of this property, and I know she is not the person who rented it.

I asked her to provide me with all the details of this transaction.

The woman said she saw an ad on a very popular website for a sub-let situation. She called the number provided in the ad and spoke to an “agent,” who told Sara that he represented this property.

Rental property was a condo

He told her that a tenant had to leave her lease early and was going to sublet her rented condo.  He further stated that she could capitalize on the annual rental rate, even though this condo would normally have rented for double that rate during the time she wanted it.

The woman verified this information with the “tenant,” and the available rental period corresponded to the time she wanted.

So, the woman mailed the security deposit and first and last month’s rent, totaling $5,000.

Even though the woman lives in the area, she paid these funds without having seen the unit or having signed a lease.

Rental property was a scam

I soon realized that she had been the victim of a scam and had lost her money.

Scammers are alive and well and making money because they are believable liars who present skilled sales pitches and promise huge discounts.

If you are renting a property, do so through a reliable company that can prove they represent the desired property or a landlord who can prove he or she is indeed the property owner.

Property ownership can be found in tax records, which are public records.

Tenants should always tour a rental property with landlord

It is also important that you tour a property you are interested in to make certain it has been accurately represented in the advertising.

A real landlord normally requires the prospective tenant to undergo an application process.

Additionally, you can talk to the property’s neighbors for information about the landlord and/or property.  Be savvy and protect yourself.

Other recent Dear Landlord Hank posts you may have missed:

If A Good Tenant Loses A Job How Long Before You Evict Them?

How Do You Raise Rent For A Long-Time Tenant?

 How Do You Know When To Change Property Managers?

 Where Do You Draw The Line On Normal Wear And Tear?

Dear Landlord Hank: Do You Conduct Rental Inspections? How Often?

Dear Landlord Hank: How Do I Motivate My Tenants To Conserve Water?

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Dear Landlord Hank: Should I Give A Tenant More Time To Pay?

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Dear Landlord Hank: Why Are Tenants Rude When I Ask For Rent Payments?