Four tips to avoid rental scams

Be wary of scammers when searching for an apartment online. (Image courtesy of Flickr user Ian Muttoo.)

Trying to find an apartment can be tough. Boston’s growing population and demand is no match for limited housing stock. With the presence of Craigslist and other sites online, apartment hunting can even more challenging, since there are so many scams and fake listings. Here are four tips to help you avoid being scammed and find a new apartment successfully.


  • If you are asked to give money before even seeing the apartment.

This is not a common practice and usually is a sign that something fishy is going on. You should never pay for something you don’t see in person. Also, don’t rely on pictures. They may be digitally edited to look better or completely fake.


  • You don’t need a lease.

Always, always make sure you sign a lease. Legally, you don’t need a lease but it is common practice. If the landlord doesn’t want to sign a lease, sign a month-to-month agreement. If you don’t sign a lease and pay money, you could be putting yourself in a bad situation.


  • You never meet anyone to see the property.

If someone asks for rent money to show you an apartment, then always cannot make an appointment, run for the hills. Anyone in the real estate industry who is professional will meet you in person before renting a property.


  • You need to give personal information through

Never disclose your social security number via email. That is not the professional way of doing business. You should not have to give personal information until you have met with the landlord and seen the apartment. You will need to disclose your personal information for a credit check but there usually is an official form for that.

Overall, trust your gut. If something seems off or not right, it probably isn’t. It’s better to be safe than sorry.


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About Sara Brown

Sara Brown is the Sampan health editor.

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