Toronto rental scams: How to recognize them and stay safe

They’ve been around for years, yet people still fall for rental scams unfortunately. Check out this example from Toronto rental scams.

Despite a huge number of warnings every year from bloggers, Toronto newspapers and local police, people still manage to fall for rental scams because although we might be getting wiser, the scammers keep getting more sophisticated. And in the end, people who get scammed might get conned out of hundreds, or even thousands of dollars. But at the same time, it’s not that shocking because as the years go on, scammers get more sophisticated.

TorontoRentals’ website technology does a great job of keeping scammers off our site. Still, some scams can get through our safeguards. If you suspect a rental scam on our site, please report it to us so we can investigate.

Here are 5 red flags you should keep in mind during your rental search.

Here is some more insight on the the process of how a rental scam often happens, and what to look for to recognize it:

The characteristics

The property description may be written in very poor English.

The rental’s location in the description doesn’t match where the building is actually situated.

The price seems too good to be true! The property listing will often show a very modern apartment in a great location, but the price will be much lower than you expect.

The process

You email the landlord, who replies using very formal language. He or she probably calls you “sir”, “madam” or “dear”.

The email reply has tons of spelling errors.

The landlord lets you know that he or she works for an international organization, is on a mission abroad, or is out of the country for some other reason. Or, maybe not out of the country, but is at least far enough away that meeting you in Toronto is out of the question.

In order to give you access to the property, the landlord promises to mail you the key, or will have an associate let you in…

… But first, you must send the damage deposit via wire transfer. This money can be returned if you do not wish to rent the property after seeing it, the landlord says. No problem.

The landlord has no problem with renting the property to you without ever meeting you, checking your credit report, learning anything about your employment status, or even having a lease or tenancy agreement signed.

If you don’t respond right away, the “landlord” will email you again soon, reminding you to send the damage deposit properly.

The sophisticated ones

Sophisticated scammers can take the issue even further.

Check for links in the landlord or property manager’s email. These might take you to a website in your browser that looks very legitimate. In this case, you should Google the property management company on your own, independently from any links that were sent to you. Verify that an employee who goes by the name of the person emailing you exists and is employed there. Talk to that person and verify that he or she recalls communicating with you.

The rules

Your renting experience will be a happy, scam-free one if:

  1. You never send money to someone you’ve never met.
  2. You remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Please remember to report any rental listings that you believe might be scams in order to protect yourself and others from an unfortunate situation.

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Born on the Prairies, Erin Cardone grew up knowing there was more to life than canola fields and AAA Alberta Angus. So she escaped, living in Europe and Australia, white-knuckling it through plates of calf brains and raw horse meat, and learning languages she can't remember anymore. After a stint as a jaded, skeptical journalist, she changed tack and began writing rather awesome blogs and showing businesses that advertising is dead, so long live social media, with her businesses Legendary Social Media. She now splits her time between various Canadian cities, Costa Rica and wherever else the wind blows.

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