Rental Property Hunting Tips: How to Avoid Scammers
Census data shows that the median cost of rent in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area was roughly $949 in 2014, while average gross rent was $1,000. As of June 2016, the average cost of rent for the Dallas and Fort Worth areas ranged from a low of around $880 to a high of around $1,500. Putting together at least $800 to $1500 dollars for your monthly rent is no easy feat, but since shelter is a basic human need, as the saying goes: you gotta do what you got to do, to keep a roof over your head.
What can turn this story tragic is if this hard-earned money, instead of going to your home’s upkeep, ends up in the wrong, slithery hands. As it is, rental scams can usually cost you roughly the same amount, if not much more, for a month or a year’s rent (depending on the fictional payment contract set out by your scammer) exclusive of other bogus fees your scammer may ask for.
To keep yourself safe from getting scammed, here are some rental property hunting tips:
Do not transact online
Visit the apartment in person. Do not let any money change hands until you see the actual apartment. There have been many cases of people scammed of their rent money because they transacted online. One man flew all the way from India only to find that the $1,300 he transferred as down payment for an apartment had all but gone away with his missing “agent.”
Don’t rely on online pictures
Tour the neighborhood and amenities. There have also been cases of families paying for a one-year lease only to find out once they arrived that the actual apartment did not look as brand new in the pictures they had seen, and that the beautiful neighborhood pictures were from more than several years ago.
Always ask for a notarized contract of lease
Make sure this is signed between you and the renter, and that there is a third-party witness for both sides. Ensure that the said legal papers are issued by legitimate sources.
Verify the identities of people you are transacting with
Do not pay money to the wrong person. There have also been cases of unwitting renters paying some unverified stranger masquerading as the owner, only to have the rightful owner or property manager knocking on their door. Of course, this means they would have to move out or pay the real owners all over again. Lesson learned? Check the identity of the “agent” you are transacting with, with the community’s local authorities.
Know your rights as a renter
Different localities are governed by their own housing and apartment rental regulations. Check with your local regulatory agency so you’ll know your rights as a renter.
Check online reviews and social
When vetting your list of prospects, check reviews on the Better Business Bureau site, bbb.org. This site contains a repository of information and user reviews on businesses, brands, and even charities. You can also check the company’s social media channels to see what other real people have to say about their experience with the company.
Hire a property manager
Not all the time you can physically find or visit a place to rent, especially if you’re out of the country. To avoid relying on Craigslist yourself, you can search Yelp, Zillow, or Yellowpages for property managers you can trust, who can do the vetting for you, and ensure you will not be paying your hard-earned cash to the wrong people.
If you are looking for reasonably priced, top notch properties and trustworthy rental property management in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, get in touch with us at Westromgroup.com
Some of the areas we cover are in:
North Richland Hills