Rental Scams in Ontario – How to Know If You’re Being Scammed
Complex rental scams are happening all around the province of Ontario and giving Kijiji a bad reputation. After seeing a listing on Kijiji, an Ottawa couple signed a lease for a townhouse and paid the landlord both first and last month’s rent prior to meeting in person. Turns out that the so-called landlord was a scammer online and had contracted thousands of dollars in rent from the tenants. Similar cases have been popping up around Toronto in which the tenants are viewing properties with an illegitimate agent. In these cases, after an agreement is signed and the deposit is made, the agent stops all communication. So how can you prevent this from happening to you?
The individuals behind these rental scams are using online platforms that are used by legitimate realtors to schedule home viewings. They access such platforms by posing as realtors and once they do, have information on all listed properties, including showing schedules and combinations to the lock boxes. They then will duplicate the listing on Kijiji for the public to view. Considering this, staying away from rental listings on Kijiji is recommended. Otherwise, be sure that you are renting through a legitimate agent by doing your background checks and research and confirming that the property is available for long-term rent before moving forward.
Most notably, never send money prior to meeting the landlord or realtor in person. A common mistake that we are seeing during the pandemic is transactions being done without required face-to-face meetings. What once would have been a red flag, has now become the new normal, but this does not mean that you should proceed with ignorance. Make sure you are taking extra steps to ensure that you are dealing with a trusted source, especially when it involves the transferring of funds.
If the landlord does not want to meet you in person, then that is a red flag. Often, a scammer would suggest that you inspect the place by yourself or require that you move in and send money immediately, so proceed with caution if ever in a similar situation. A couple other alarming things to look out for is if the landlord asks you to provide a security deposit before signing a lease, the price is too good to be true, the listing is written unprofessionally, and/or a credit check is not required.
Now it very well may not be possible to have an in-person meeting considering the current state of the pandemic. In this situation, scheduling a video call to meet the landlord and/or to get a virtual showing of the space is a great alternative. A good landlord will want to make sure that you feel comfortable and will most likely want to meet you as well to ensure that they trust their future tenant.
The biggest takeaway from these rental scams is to ASK QUESTIONS. Never feel like you are asking too much because when it comes to where you are going to live, you deserve complete honesty.
If you should ever find yourself in a situation like this, contact your local authorities, report the listing immediately and contact your banking branch if a transaction has occurred.
If you are relocating to Canada and need assistance, do not hesitate to contact us.