7 ways to spot homeowner fraud

Let’s be honest: we’re all a little freaked out about our owners. They have access to our most sensitive financial and personal information – no matter what space we live in – and yet we usually don’t know much about them. And while most homeowners are reputable and trustworthy, there are some whose behavior turns to fraudulent. Fraud to the owner – which in the most general terms refers to a landlord breaking state laws on rental and / or consumer fraud – comes in many forms.

Here are seven ways to spot rental scams or fraudulent behavior before signing the lease on it. apartment for rent in Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as some ways of responding.

They won’t let you visit the place in person

So you find a excellent list online and check out this two bedroom, two bathroom apartment in person. Except the owner insists on meeting you outside and comes up with some bizarre excuses as to why you can’t see the apartment – even though he insists the place will be robbed tomorrow if you don’t take action. . We say: Get away. Even though the photos in the ad made the pad look like a palace, it’s clear that its owner is in hiding Something. Sure, it could just be a messy (or fussy) tenant, but it could also be faulty electrical work or a bedbug infestation. There is always another apartment. Pass.

There is no rental request. Yay! Yay?

Wow, no candidacy! This means no credit checks and no haggling over references! Ah, but wait. If an owner doesn’t have you complete a standard rental request or form, this implies that they do not like to put things in writing. And an owner who doesn’t like to leave a paper trail is an owner who might not be trustworthy either. Take this as a sign that they are not being honest and continue the apartment hunt.

They charge insane upfront fees

There are very strict laws regarding the amount of money a homeowner is allowed to charge up front. At most, this is usually the first month’s rent, the last month’s rent, and a security deposit equivalent to one month’s rent. Oh, and the cost of the new locks to be sure. However, just about anything beyond that is probably not legal. If you’re asked to shell out more than half of your savings to secure a good spot, check local laws and push back if you’re right. And whatever amount you end up spending, make sure you get a signed and dated receipt. We will continue to beat that drum: paperwork is the key to securing your rights as a tenant.

They insist on money

You see a place, you like a place, you are going to sign a lease on a place… and the landlord casually mentions that he prefers cash-only transactions. Red flag. Cash means no record of monthly rent and possibly no bank account from the owner. Insist on getting a cashier’s check, explaining it’s for your own records, and see how they react. If a check is a deal breaker, so are their cash leanings.

There is no paper trail – and not because everything happens electronically

Why are we always told to put things in writing? Because it creates a paper trail that can be traced (and submitted as evidence to small claims court if it ever comes to it). So if your landlord only speaks to you in person or on the phone and never responds to your emails or texts, you should suspect their intentions. Fraudulent types want no record of their professional interactions; if and when lawyers get involved, a lack of evidence makes it much more difficult to prove your case, either neglected repairs or missing deposits. Keep sending emails and / or letters to document your side of things; If you start to feel nervous, send a certified letter detailing all of your concerns and see where it takes you.

The apartment is not up to code

By law, you can expect standard apartment features. Plumbing. Adequate heating. Watertight windows and doors. Emergency and emergency exits. Smoke detector. If one or more of these features are not up to par, it is your landlord’s responsibility to correct them in a timely manner. What if they don’t? There is still this fraudulent activity. In fact, some landlords will deliberately forgo repairs in order to force you out of frustration so that they can then raise the next tenant’s rent. Don’t go quietly. Take pictures, send them by email, send them by certified mail, and if you are still get the silent treatment, get a lawyer.

Surety drama

By far the most common examples of homeowner fraud involve the security deposit. They hold it all or give you part of it – but don’t explain (in writing) why they kept the rest. Often times, you are charged excessive fees for cleaning and repairs, things that they probably fixed on their own. Pet damage is an especially easy scapegoat, as most pet owner tenants are often already on the defensive. Require copies of receipts and invoices from third parties; If the homeowner admits doing the job DIY-style, ask for a detailed explanation of the repairs and get comparable written estimates from local suppliers. Time is money, yes, but money is money too – and money helps you secure your next apartment fraud-free.

How do you make sure you’re renting from a reputable landlord? Share your tips and experiences in the comments!

About Mitchel McMillan

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