Renting a home in Vancouver is quite the challenging undertaking. It is not an easy process and lately, to add even more stress to the equation, there has been a rash of fake Property Manager scammers. These criminals actually pretend to be real estate agents and somehow manage to gain access to rental properties for the sole purpose of taking your hard earned money. Remember to observe great caution and be acutely aware when you see an advertisement for a property that seems to good to be true. Because guess what, it 99.9% probably is. Most online scam artists always target luxury condo’s, apartments and luxury homes in popular locations where the properties are scarce and the renters plentiful. They will explain the owner resides in another country, generally overseas doing religious work and is never available to meet the renter in person but will strongly encourage the potential applicant to wire transfer a security deposit plus first month’s rent to secure the property. As a candidate, you will be informed your rental lease, condo keys, parking stall information, FOB etc. will be mailed to you asap but somehow they never arrive.
Vancouver apartments for rent as a general rule often have a concierge placed in the lobby for security and they should be familiar with whomever is showing you the property. Also, do not visit the building or home alone, try and take a friend with you when you do a viewing as four pairs of eyes are better than two. A red flag should go up when the advertisement (almost always found on craigslist) has no actual telephone contact only an email address. Always note the tone of the email returned to you. Is the English properly formatted or does it not make clear sense? It can be very difficult to distinguish a false advertisement by the pictures posted as they most often appear very professional looking. Because guess what? They are always copied and pasted from a legitimate site.
Be persistent to meet at the office of the agent who contacts you. It is much more difficult and expensive to “stage an legitimate looking office”. If the agent insists on meeting you only at the property you should be very suspicious. Ask lots of relevant questions that a reputable agent would not have a problem answering and ALWAYS ask for identification. Scrutinize the ID and ask the agent for an office telephone number and address that you can physically check up on.
If you view a specific property that you know is under valued, be honest and ask yourself the all important question WHY? These professional scammers deliberately lower the price to entice as many potential renters for the same property that they can and then will ask several different applicants at the same time for the security deposit and first months rent in cash to hold the property. When you turn up with your furniture in the moving truck to collect your keys, you will be shocked to discover the agent is nowhere to be found. And you have no place to go. Sometime they are even bold enough to ask for 6-12 months rent in advance to secure the property for you because that pay off can be huge for them.
The best target for these crooks are renters new to the city. As you are not familiar with the areas and normal price-points for specific locations you are much more likely to put your trust in these fraudulent agents. Also moving is a very emotional time in everyone’s life. Your stress level is heightened and this leaves you in a very vulnerable position. Perfect for the scammers to swoop in and take advantage of your trust and inexperience in a new environment.
The second thing to consider is not only are you liable to lose your hard earned money but you are now a certain target for identity theft. You will be asked to fill out a detailed credit form which these criminals that gives them access to your most important personal details especially your social insurance number, credit card information and complete credit history. How easy have you now made it for them to become you on paper. Again, if it sounds too good to be true, it is!
Potential property renters who need to find a place before you actually relocate, do yourself a huge favour and contact a “reputable experience Property Management company” whom you can put your trust in. You will have piece of mind and not worry that the apartment,condo or house you rented online actually exists. Vancouver Property Managers like Orca Realty are there for the sole purpose of finding our home owners AAA tenants who will treat their properties with care and respect. So don’t be one those scam victims, contact us, the professionals from the beginning and we will find you the perfect place to call home and hang your hat.