Avoiding Rental Scams 101

Our mission...

is to empower independent landlords to create welcoming rental experiences through positive interactions with their tenants.

The rental experience begins the moment a property manager decides to fill a vacancy and a renter starts their rental search. Often, the early stages of the rental process are when rental scams are most viable.

At TurboTenant, we’re dedicated to protecting both property owners and renters from rental scams – a situation that is never positive for anyone.

How does TurboTenant help you avoid rental scams? Here are a handful of our anti-fraud processes:

  • Verify all real estate listings before marketing them online
  • Utilize machine learning to help identify fraudulent rental property listings
  • Educating on housing scams, as well as best practices for background checks and credit checks
  • Partnering with leaders in the financial industry such as Stripe and Plaid to keep payment information private

Learn how to protect yourself today using our landlord and renter tips below.

Rental Scam Tips For Landlords:

Common rental scams don’t just put potential renters at risk, but can also affect the landlord or property owner.

  • Be very cautious of potential tenants who…
    • are willing to rent your property without seeing it in person or completing a video tour first
    • say they are out of the country and want to send a cashier’s check
    • provide an initial payment or first month’s rent that is more than the agreed-upon price
    • try to instill a sense of urgency
  • Always screen tenants to check their credit history, criminal background, and eviction history.
  • Never accept a check that is more than the agreed-upon amount. Do not deposit it, and return it immediately.
  • Make your screening criteria public to help ward off scammers.
  • Follow up with references.
  • Verify employment.

Rental Scam Tips For Renters:

Don’t get desperate or impatient when apartment hunting, because that’s when red flags can fly by unnoticed.

  • Be very cautious of property managers or rental agents who…
    • come up with a reason or excuse for why they are not able to meet you in person
    • refuse to give you a phone number or speak with you over the phone
    • ask you to make a payment upfront, and in return, they will mail you the keys
    • ask you to send money to a location that is not in the local area of the rental property
    • ask you to make a payment to an account that is outside the United States
  • Be very cautious if the property seems “too good to be true” – it probably is. The following should be a red flag for fake listings:
    • an unrealistically low price for the monthly rent
    • little or no security deposit
    • accepts pets, short-term leases, or is furnished for no additional fee
    • requires no tenant screening, credit check, background check, or application
  • Be wary if the rental ad contains numerous typos and/or grammatical errors.
  • Always physically see the property and/or meet the landlord or someone at the management company before sending any money.
  • Always speak to the landlord before applying and paying the rental application fee.
  • Never (ever) wire transfer money. This is a sure sign that you’re encountering a scam. Wired money cannot be retrieved, just like cash.

Reporting Rental Scams

If you’re aware of a rental listing or other rental scam, you can report it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Or you can contact the Federal Trade Commission.

If you suspect or are aware that a rental listing posted on TurboTenant is a fake ad, please click the “Report Listing” link on the listing page or email us the details at: [email protected]

For more information on using the TurboTenant website, please visit our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Learn even more about how rental listing scams work from the FTC here.