It might be quiet around your neighborhood now, but starting next month you’ll start to notice a lot more U-Haul’s and rental trucks roaming around.

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Lots of people will be packing up in the next few months to start school or a new job, move in with their significant other, start over after a broken relationship, or find their first home outside of Mom and Dad’s house.

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Statistically, most people move between May and September (according to Rent.com), so if you’re on the hunt for a new apartment or house to rent, it’s a good idea to start looking now. 

Thankfully, as you can see on all kinds of rental websites,  there are tons of amazing places up for grabs all over New York State.

Watch Out For These Common Rental Scams In New York State

If you’ve ever browsed apartment listings online, you’ve noticed that once in a while a place will pop up that seems too good to be true. 

The bad news? It more than likely is.

Scammers love this time of year because desperate and hopeful renters flood websites like Zillow, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist looking for a place to live. So if you’re looking for a new apartment or will be soon, keep an eye out for any listings that look like these.

Stolen ads

When you see a listing that looks too good to be true, the smart idea is to search for the address on Zillow or another real estate site. 

A popular trick scammers will do is hijack photos of another listing and change little details (like the contact info) to dupe you. (This almost happened to me several years ago. Thankfully, before I put down a deposit, I decided to drive through the neighborhood the apartment was located in and saw the “rental” I was interested in was actually a house listed for sale.)

Made Up Rentals

If the rental’s address or general neighborhood isn’t disclosed in the ad, it might not even exist at all. 

Signs You’re Being Scammed In New York State

All of these are surefire signs you’re on your way to being a victim in a rental scam..

Asking for a deposit before you’ve seen the apartment

If you have yet to set foot in your future home, do not under any circumstances fork over a security deposit or first month’s rent. If the place where you’re looking has stipulations on in-person showings (ex: COVID restrictions), call the company’s leasing office directly to set up an appointment. 

Asking for a deposit before signing a lease

The same rule goes for leaving any kind of deposit before you’ve read your lease thoroughly, signed it, and received your own copy. 

Claiming they’re “out of town” or “out of the country”

Even if they insist they have a way to get you the keys to your new place, don’t fall for it. Don’t ever send money outside of New York State if you haven’t seen the apartment in person and signed a lease. 

Asking you to wire money

If the person you’re in contact with about the apartment asks you to wire money - DON’T DO IT! Asking you to wire any sort of deposit is the biggest red flag when it comes to rental scams. 

If You Think You’ve Been Scammed

Listen, these things happen and sometimes, scammers are successful. If they didn’t work at least some of the time, scammers wouldn’t try it at all. Here’s what to do if you think you’ve been taken for a ride.

  • Call the police and file a report
  • Flag the listing and contact the website where you saw the ad, so no one else falls for it
  • Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission 

The best piece of advice for how to avoid a scam when searching for an apartment or house to rent in New York State? Be patient. 

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It’s exhausting searching for a place to live, but the sad truth is scammers know that and love to take advantage. If the rent seems too good to be true for the location or amenities included, sorry to burst your bubble - it probably is.

Good luck out there, future neighbors!

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