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HomeButton: Where Renters and Landlords Click!

A Blog for Renters and Landlords Containing Rental Ads, Tips, Resources & More!

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January 2013

Warning: Rental Scams


Rental Scams to Watch Out For

Learn How to Protect Yourself

Fraudsters have been known to “hijack” rental ads from one website, and post them to another website – claiming to be the landlord.

The scammers cash in once they convince renters that they’ve secured the rental and a deposit is paid. The scammers payment method of choice is usually Western Union money transfers.

Dead Giveaways of Fraudulent Rental Listings and Landlords

  • #1. They can’t ‘meet you in person. The majority of fraudulent “landlords” always state that they are out of the country, either for work or vacation, and cannot meet in person.
  • #2. They tug at the heart-strings. Fraudsters like to “bless you” and make praise to God and other religious references in their email correspondence. They might tell you they’re currently volunteering at an African orphanage, on a pilgrimage, or even in the midst of a medical or family crisis.
  • #3. It’s all too good to be true. As life has already taught you: if the deal sounds too good to be true; it probably isn’t.

How to Protect Yourself

Remember to deal locally and always meet with a landlord in person. Never advance funds to landlords you haven’t met. Most home rental websites like HomeButton.ca do not offer payment processing or purchase protection – they simply connect renters with landlords.

Use common sense and do not send money to someone outside your region and remember to take practical business precautions!

Learn to Spot Legitimacy

Once you’ve connected with a landlord, take a look at their email address. If it ends in @hotmail.com, @gmail.com, or any other “free” web-based email service extension, take precautions. Fraudsters use free email services like this because they can set them up quick without having to provide any identification or credentials. Their next move is then to hijack a listing from a home rental website, post it as their own, and then wait for renters like you to take the bait.

Home rental websites like HomeButton.ca cannot validate the credibility of landlords using free, web-based email accounts. Remember though, that many credible landlords DO use such accounts so you have to look a little deeper.

If you have concerns, speak with the landlord over the phone and certainly meet in person. If you still have concerns, take extra precautions.

For your safety, HomeButton publishes a page containing verified landlords under the wing of professional property management companies here http://homebutton.ca/property-management-companies/. You can rest assured that these are credible sources to find your next house or apartment rental.

Remember to Do Your Part to Help Other Renters

If you come accross a suspicious rental advertisement, or connect with a landlord who you believe to be posting a fraudulent listing, report them. Start by reporting the listing to the administrators of the website you found them on. Be sure to request confirmation that the website administrators forward the details to the proper authorities. If you do not receive confirmation, report the listing yourself. Doing your part in helping to identify fraudulent ads may help other renters who may have ignored the signs.

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Renters: Wheeling & Dealing 101


Renting? Get the best bang for your buck!

Remember that most landlords are business people. You’re not obligated to take all arrangements at face value, on the first offer, so don’t.

Examples:

Negotiate lower rent
If your rent is $1000 per month and you want to widdle down to $900 per month, the landlord will likely tell you to take a hike. However, a long-term renter is good news to a landlord, so instead propose to sign a 2-3 year lease at $900 per month. With a security deposit, your landlord will consider. Worst-case scenario is they’ll say no, but it never hurts to ask, and may present opportunity to meet in the middle at $950 per month. Now you’ve saved $600 per year and can get that new TV you’ve had your eye on!

Negotiate more space
Space is always an issue with renters. Storage is a concern, and paying for storage is costly. If you need extra space, consider negotiating with your landlord. For instance, if you rent upstairs and another tenant rents downstairs, storage space can be tight. However, odds are there’s space under the stairs, in the furnace room, in the laundry room, in a yard shed, garage, and attic. An extra $20 per month may be all it takes to convince your landlord to offer that space exclusively for you.

Negotiate pets
Found your new, perfect rental home? Disappointed to learn pets aren’t allowed? Don’t attempt to sway your landlords decision by convincing them your pets are innocent, clean and quiet. Instead, speak to them in a language they’ll understand and put your money where your mouth is. For example, if your pets really are innocent, clean and quiet – offer your landlord an extra refundable deposit to allow the pets. Be prepared to step up the offer and provide a larger-than-expected deposit. Or, ask specifically where pet’s aren’t allowed – you might find that keeping cats upstairs on the laminate flooring is OK, while downstairs on the carpet flooring is disallowed. Many different kinds of pets may actually be allowed after you offer quarterly air vent and carpet cleaning. Again, worst-case scenario is landlords will say no, but it never hurts to ask, and pay present an opportunity to meet in the middle.

Negotiating with property management companies may be more difficult, as they have dozens, hundreds or even thousands of renters who all have to play by the same rules. If you’re renting a house from an individual landlord, however, exercise your negotiating skills!

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Landlords: Why You Never Want Your Rental Property Utilities in Your Name


Use common sense.

Would you cosign a renters vehicle loan? Probably not, because chances are you don’t know your renter that well. Common sense begs the question: why would you put your name on something that’s your renters responsibility? If your rental homes utilities are NOT included in the rent, ensure your renters has the utilities in their name.

Who’s responsible?
If you renter falls behind on paying bills, don’t set yourself up for the responsibility of paying up before a collection notice is issued. Leave the bills in your renters name and it becomes their sole responsibility, or else.

Bills still arrive after renters move out.
When you insist on utility bills being in the renters name, they are required to pay in full even after they exit your property. Regardless of how great your renters are, it’s difficult to connect with them after they’ve moved out, especially if it’s to collect money owing for utility bills.

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Looking for a new house or apartment for rent? Try the new HomeButton.ca

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