Renter beware: What you need to know about rental scams

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – If you’re moving to a new city or even across town, renter beware. The Better Business Bureau released a study with a survey saying over five million people have fallen victim to rental scams.

Finding the perfect place to live can be exciting yet overwhelming. From figuring out how much you can afford to which neighborhood is the best fit, it can be a lot to take in.

And some scammers are taking advantage of renters.

“They come across this rental, looks great, the pictures are great, and then they reach out to this person and they say ‘oh we need your first month’s rent, a security deposit, and by the way, we don’t accept checks from new renters, so you either need to send us a cashier’s check or a prepaid Visa card,'” Better Business Bureau, Jessie Schmidt said. “They arrive to move in and get to the rental and guess what, the house is listed for sale, it’s already been sold, so that’s the scam in a nutshell.”

It’s more common than you may think, even happening right here in South Dakota.

“I had some people from Denver call me up, they were in their U-Haul, they were sitting in front of the house, and said ‘we were told to call you to pick up the key for our new rental,’ and I said, ‘I don’t have any rentals,’ and they said the address and I said we were closing on that the day after tomorrow, it’s not for rent, they had given $900 for rent and $900 for a deposit,” realtor, 605 Real Estate, Jeff Nelson said.

Jessie Schmidt with the Better Business Bureau says people who are inexperienced in the renting market are more likely to fall victim to this sort of scam.

So what do you need to keep in mind?

“If the land lord won’t meet you at the property in person, don’t go, don’t rent it, and the second thing is what landlord doesn’t want to meet their tenants and find out about them and go through a regular application process,” Nelson said.

“Some of the text messages, do they use language that we’re not familiar with, or it’s just not proper grammar, if you can’t call them, if you call the number they’re texting you from and there’s no answer, those are all red flags,” Schmidt said.

Red flags you shouldn’t ignore.

To read the full study from the BBB, click here.

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