We love Craigslist and other free listing sites…for selling couches and dishes, that is. But even then, many people have found themselves on the short end of a raw deal made through the online swap meet.
Scams abound on virtual flea markets even with rental properties. We often hear people ask, “Can I rent my property on Craigslist?” Though the allure of posting a rental for free can draw well-meaning landlords to post on any number of online sites, it’s important that both renters and owners alike are beware of hidden scammers lying in wait.
3 Scams to Watch Out For When Listing Your Property
Scam 1: Relisting your rental property on the same site for far less
For more than two decades, Craigslist has ruled as the “go-to” place to find… pretty much everything. And the ease of listing a property on sites like Craigslist or Zillow means scam artists can do so just as easily, too. For example, a legitimate landlord posts their rental property on Craigslist. A short time later, someone else lists the same property for half the monthly rent rate. Guess whose listing gets more hits?
The ubiquity of this scam prompted the Better Business Bureau to post a warning in December 2019. By then, more than 29,000 apartments, houses, and vacation properties had illegal online listings. In fact, over the years, fraudulent listers have scammed more than 5 million people out of money. The victims lost payments for security deposits or rent with an average loss of $1,000 per scam!
Scam 2: Listing your vacant rental property without your knowledge
A vacant property NOT listed by the actual owner finds its way onto a site without the real owner’s knowledge. And you guessed it: for half the rent rate. The National Rental Home Council has seen so many cases of this scam that they’ve created a section of their site specifically warning “would-be” renters against these scams. They outline common spoopy details like bad vibes, overly cheap rent, no house tours, and insistence on cash-only transactions. This is probably a good time to mention that as a legit landlord, you should NOT do these things. Ever.
Imagine a property owner’s surprise when a neighbor calls them with confusing news. They say someone has shown up at their rental home, asking to see a house listed on a free site. The would-be renters tell the neighbors they had just talked to the owner. He wants far less than other comparable places in the same neighborhood because he’s “going through a hard time.” Sob stories tend to run deep in scams by playing to a person’s heartstrings.
Scam 3: Listing a property not for rent
Then there’s the coup de grace of rental scams: postings for homes never listed as a rental anywhere. Turns out, you don’t even need a real rental to scam people.
Picture a family just minding their own business at home when people show up for their “booking.” Again, the scammer has posted a house for rent, including photos (often ripped from previous real estate listings). This time, the house owners never intended to have renters in the first place. They live there.
The would-be renters insist they came to the right place. They show the actual owners the rental listing. Right house, false information. Conveniently, the supposed landlord cannot be located now. Tears and chaos ensue. The Federal Trade Commission received so many complaints about this one that they, too, have issued specific warnings.
Looking to Sell Your Home? Trust The Realty Medics
Our hearts go out to renters and landlords alike in these cases. Owners, you can squash the chance of your rental being used in a scam by not posting it on free sites. Ever!
Aside from never knowing who will see your ad, your rental properties can easily become a pawn in these schemes.
At The Realty Medics, we syndicate with hundreds of other reputable sites, ensuring the right eyeballs see your listing. Our team closely screens all applicants before ever offering you options for selection. You always have the final say on who moves into your investment property. Oh, and we’re available 24/7 whenever you need us.
Has your rental been used in a scam before? Tell us about it. Call us at 321-947-7653 or send us a message. If you want to sell your house or rent out your home without worrying about potential scammers, we can help. Contact us today to get started!