Rental Scams, Part I: When You’re Tricked Into a Rent Lock-In by the Landlord or Broker

in Find an Apartment on by

When it comes to renting an apartment, there are more than a few landlords willing to do whatever it takes to get an apartment rented — even to the point of attempting to scam unwary renters.

Brittany Espy attempted to rent an apartment in New York City and wound up in a credit card dispute. As part of her paperwork with a broker, Espy was asked for her credit card information: “They told me nothing would be charged to me. They just needed the info to do my credit checks.” The broker went ahead and charged her card, though, telling her that she had the apartment and had to take it.

Unfortunately, Espy’s experience isn’t unique. More than a few landlords and apartment brokers will get a deposit in their hands and insist that the renter has agreed to take the lease. You might even run into a landlord asking for a deposit before even showing you the rental often to ‘hold’ the apartment for you. There are a few ways to protect yourself from rental scams, however.

Before you hand over any money for a rental or signing a lease, meet in person with the landlord or broker. You shouldn’t even fill out a rental application until you’ve seen the apartment in person and made sure that it really is a place you’re willing to live.

In general, if a rental ad sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If the rent is too low or amenities are too good, it’s very possible that something else is wrong with the apartment. While landlords are known to try to get you to sign a lease now — “This apartment will be gone by this time tomorrow!” — if a landlord is pushing too hard, it’s a good sign that something’s wrong with the situation. If a landlord is pressuring you to sign a lease immediately, walk away. It’s more than reasonable to take time to make a good decision about where you’re going to live and landlords know it.

If you do run into a rental scam, the Federal Trade Commission should be your first point of contact. On the FTC’s website, you can file a complaint about a scam. You can do the same with your local police and Better Business Bureau. While the BBB can’t usually help solve the situation, letting that organization know will help warn future renters off before they get taken in by a scam.

4 Responses to “Rental Scams, Part I: When You’re Tricked Into a Rent Lock-In by the Landlord or Broker”

  1. November 21, 2008 at 5:46 pm, Guest said:

    well beside apart ment reasons strict leins have been strike on local felons … why they arenot desert rats …. people need them to die off or be taken off by the hate full representative of friendss.. caus e who live s here…. only friends of us … this has been the meat of all communities for singling out persons they want on the street….. where is the job for the dying poor …. give th e job to some one with this need… he has to compete with a another unskilled for low paying job…. truck drivers dont want them unless some one buys him a truck… hughes representatives fiegn support of the parents of a person married to his parents asked lawyers to ( incljudgeandcounty cityworkers) drown son in law as a hayes founde d homeless shelters camp towns …. but son in law we raped a girl and because she was homeless staying with your mom until his family girl can get the santa monica communty to care for her fbi = lies of police ..does he care…acting day…..???? she lives nice and police prevent him from liveing with support of his own parents and ssi/ssa and agencies retarded by this money neccessity…just arreste him for being son of father that has sex with fbi……. break in to the house as sheriff of maricoipa county need any reason to get his boyscout mormons begging on the owners be half to fee d chickens instead of the son of him…. make him the member of your family we put in the strreet….hayes … is this the deal police…. hughes reps give no controll on sending in application … and sea world needs to hire him cause he has this banana and cracke r and the dream of george whos e daughter wants sex with jason prcotor…..hom e car wife life like any family instead loook for work with police community using sufferage against swept to the end of the carpet techniques


  2. March 25, 2009 at 3:40 pm, Anonymous said:

    haha wha??? is this the fine print on the lease?


  3. July 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm, There another side said:

    There is always another side to the story. Sometimes a potential renter tries to hold one unit while looking for another. Ask yourself: Why as a landlord should I hold the unit for you with no consideration for me? I have the unit advertised and I simply want the first qualified tenant to take possession. So if you give me $2000 to hold on to a unit, and then tomorrow I rent it to someone else, would you be upset? Now turn it around: I turn away another qualified renter just to have you demand your deposit back and go on your way. What did you lose? What did I?

    Nope – we refuse to hold on to a unit unless a lease is signed. And, we will not show you a unit until we know that you are qualified first – it costs time and money to show a unit only to find out that you make too little, or your credit score is too low.


  4. October 20, 2012 at 12:17 pm, auntiemadder said:

    “…it costs time and money to show a unit…”

    But running credit checks and verifying employment and income is free. /sarc


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