Always try to meet your landlord face to face.
Recently in Denver, CO, a tenant fell victim to a ‘lockbox’ scam. The landlord gave the tenant the combo to the lockbox and asked that she “show herself around.” Once done, he then requested first month’s rent and a security deposit- never to be heard from again.
Check local property records, if possible.
Most counties offer a database of property records online. If your future landlord claims to own the property, it can never hurt to double check that this is indeed the truth.
Never rent a unit sight unseen.
Always look at a property first before taking the plunge, no matter how good of a deal it might initially seem.
Never pay a landlord who requests cash specifically.
Cash cannot be tracked and this is a surefire way to lose your hard-earned money.
Oral leases are difficult, if not impossible to enforce.
Always request and use a written lease.
Google the property address and landlord’s name.
Who knows what helpful information might appear.
Be wary of any unit offered way below the market average rent.
If it feels too good to be true, it most likely is.
Use common sense.
If something feels off or uncomfortable, trust your gut. Do your due diligence.
Lastly, and most importantly, seek out the services of a licensed real estate agent when renting an apartment.
He or she will be able to guide you through the entire rental process and ensure you don’t fall victim to any of the scams/warning signs listed above.