Tag Archives: Rental Scams

Spotting and Avoiding Rental Scams


Searching for an annual rental in Lee County can be stressful. To help with the process, consider using a professional Property Management Company such as Malt Realty. One benefit of using a professional is avoiding falling victim to a rental scam.

Rental scams are not always easy to spot. Scammers know that finding a rental is hard work and that a good deal is hard to pass up. Below is a list of best practices on spotting and avoiding scams:

  • Wire money – The easiest sign of a rental scam is when someone asks you to wire money via Western Union, MoneyGram or Prepaid Visa card.  Don’t send money for any reason.
  • Request money before viewing property – It is not common to pay a lot of money for something sight-unseen. If a landlord expects you to pay a lot before you lease an apartment, there is a reason to be concerned.
  • They say they are out of country – Though some scammers will readily meet tenants in person, many, especially those operating from over-seas, will not. A personal meeting with the landlord will allow you to screen out some con artists. Insisting on a local landlord or Property Management Company will lessen the risk of fraud.
  • The landlord seems too eager to lease the apartment to you. Many landlords want to know your credit score. They may also want further information such as criminal background check and employment verification. If a landlord doesn’t seem interested in any form of tenant screening or appears too eager to negotiate the rent and other lease terms with you, it’s suspicious.
  • You feel unwarranted sales pressure. If a landlord acts too pushy, it can be a red flag.



Preventing the most sophisticated scams can be hard, but the following tips will help minimize your risk.

  • Never dealing in cash – Most criminals will insist on difficult payment forms to reduce trace of payment. If you refuse, they will seek an easier victim.
  • Demanding a written lease – Lease should still be in writing to prevent fraud and to lay out the rights and responsibilities of the parties. Not only should a tenant require a written lease, the tenant should also demand a copy of the lease signed by the landlord.
  • Never renting sight-unseen – So many bad rental situations begin with a tenant signing a lease for an apartment without seeing it. Viewing an apartment helps prevent fraud and also ensures that the tenant is aware of the condition of the unit.
  • Meeting the landlord in person –A personal meeting with the landlord will allow you to screen out some con artists and will also allow you to get an impression of the landlord’s personality. Though many out-of-town landlords are legitimate, insisting on a local landlord or Property Management Company will lessen the risk of fraud and usually leads to better service.
  • Identifying the actual owner – When considering an apartment, take some time to do a Google search. Google the address of the apartment and also the landlord’s name and the name of the management company.
  • Using a Property Management CompanyMany rentals in Fort Myers are managed by licensed real estate agents and it is not uncommon for tenants to have their own agent. Having an agent represent you is a substantial safeguard because there is less risk that a scammer will list a property with an agent and also because if you are scammed you can hold the agent responsible. Keep in mind that some scammers claim to be agents and really sophisticated ones even manage to hijack the agent’s accounts and substitute their contact information. All licensed real estate agents in Florida must be registered with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.


Malt Realty is one of Southwest Florida’s only full service real estate businesses serving both rental property management and home sales. In effort to STOP internet fraud, we highly recommend that you DO NOT send funds to someone who cannot allow you to enter the home for a showing. If you live out of the state and cannot verify a rental, we urge you to perform a Google search on the address. This should reveal the true rental listing agent. You may want to drive by the property to see if there is a sign indicating the true rental listing agent, although many association communities do not allow signage.


Have you been a victim or spotted a rental scam? Share your story and tips in the comments below!






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How to Recognize and Avoid Rental Scams

Scam Alert

The apartment search can be an exhausting one. You likely spend your time looking at apartment after apartment with various rental agencies, real estate agents, landlords, and through your own online searches. After all of your hard work trying to find the perfect place, all you need is to fall victim to an apartment rental scam. Scammers know that people looking for apartments can be highly emotional and vulnerable while apartment searching and even take advantage of people who are in a time-sensitive situation and need to find an apartment as quickly as possible.


Here are some red flags to be on the lookout for on your apartment search:


They ask you to send money without offering to meet or show the apartment in person.  This has happened to me before while looking at apartments on Craigslist. I have found apartments on the site that had great pictures and seemed legit. I found one that I was very interested in and after emailing back and forth with the landlord, they asked me to send money for an application fee. I loved the apartment in the pictures so much that I actually considered it but after hearing about Craigslist scams, I emailed back saying I would like to see the apartment in person first. I never got a response back. Moral of the story: Don’t pay for anything before getting a look at it with your own eyes. Don’t rely on pictures or promises form someone over email. If they don’t let you see it first, it probably doesn’t exist.


They ask you to pay too many upfront fees or a high security deposit. A security deposit is usually between a month and a month and a half’s worth of rent. If you’re asked to pay an excessive fee or they ask for your money before a lease is signed, be wary; they probably just want to take your money and run.


They seem too eager to rent the apartment. Pay attention to the landlord’s behavior. Do they really want you to rent the apartment? Do they offer to waive an application fee and security deposit? Do they not ask for any information about you regarding your credit score, background check, or employment history? All of those are standard practice when renting an apartment and if the landlord is being pushy and dismissing all of those, watch out because they could be trying to scam you.


They ask for too much personal information online. When corresponding with someone online about an apartment, make sure not to give out all of your information unless you’ve met them in person and seen the apartment and are ready to sign a lease. If they ask for your social security number or bank account number online, DO NOT give it to them. That’s true for any situation, including apartment searching.


You’re just not feeling it. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

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