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How to Recognize and Avoid Scams in Rental Housing
How to Recognize and Avoid Scams in Rental Housing

Check out these simple tips to keep your rental experience safe and fraud-free!

Melissa avatar
Written by Melissa
Updated over a week ago

Top Tips to avoid a scam in rental housing:

1. Make sure you physically see the property and/or meet the landlord or rental agent before sending money.

2. Do not apply to a property until you speak with the landlord or rental agent, and if you have any concerns about the property do not apply

TurboTip - We recommend viewing the property before completing a rental application

3. Most scammers will come up with a reason or excuse on why they are not able to meet you in person (See real example below)

4. Never wire money

5. Be very cautious if a landlord or rental agent is requesting that you:

  • Make a payment and in return, they will mail you the keys

  • Send money to a location that is not in the local area of the property that is available

  • Make a payment to an account that is outside the United States

6. Be very cautious if the property seems “too good to be true” – it probably is. The following should be a red flag for scams:

  • An unrealistically low rental price

  • Little or no deposit

  • Accepts pets, short-term leases, or is furnished for no additional fee

  • Requires no tenant screening or application

7. Be very cautious if a landlord or rental agent is refusing to speak with you over the phone

8. Be very cautious if the rental listing contains numerous spelling and/or grammar errors

What should I do if I suspect a listing is fraudulent?

1. If you are aware of a rental listing scam, you can report it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Or you can contact the Federal Trade Commission.

2. If you suspect or are aware that a rental listing posted on TurboTenant is a scam please click the “Report Listing” link on the listing page or email us the details at: [email protected].

3. For more information on using the Turbo Tenant website please visit our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Example of an Actual Spam Advertisement:

Thanks for your interest and inquiries about my house. I am Purcell Emmett the owner of the house you are making inquiry of. Actually I resided in the house with my wife and before and presently we have moved out due to a missionary calling for a period of 3-5 years. Presently my house is still available for rent (rent already includes utilities). I attended a course in theology at the South London Christian College. Presently I am in the ministry working for God as a missionary in West Africa, due to the mass decision by U.S churches to promote the gospel to reach people in the West Africa region.
The house was previously listed with a Realtor but we decided to handle it on our own in order to know who we are renting to. Also, due to the fact that a Realtor agent would want to handle it professionally and the occupant may not be able to reason along with him/her later. This is one reason the price we are offering is far below standard rental price and this is enough for you to know that we are not after the rental fee but the utmost care and maintenance for the property. I know there may be no way we can be sure of the right person to live in the house because we won’t be able to meet before hand regarding sending you the keys and the documents to occupy the space and since we don’t run credit checks.

So if you believe you can take good care of the house and handle it like yours then I will be more than willing to let you rent the house.

This 3 bedroom 2 bath house has been recently updated and features a large finished basement with bonus room. 2 fireplaces. Attached 1 car garage, fenced yard and children’s play area are some of the great features this house offers.

Rent: $700
Security Deposit: $700


Name (First name/ Middle name/Surname ) : __________?
Phone # : __________?
E-mail : __________?
Best time to call : __________?
How many proposed occupants : __________?
List all in addition to yourself including approx age : __________?
Present Address : __________?
City/State : __________?
Will you have pets : __________?
Please describe Breed, size : __________?
Personality of pet : __________?
Preferred move in date : __________?
Intended length of lease: __________?
Earliest possible date of deposit payment: __________?
Length of previous tenancy : __________?
Present occupation : __________?
Are you a section 8 applicant : __________?
Do you run a business from home : __________?
If so what kind of business : __________?
Do you work late night : __________?
Do you smoke : __________?
Do you drink : __________?

Please feel free to ask any questions you do not understand and I will be looking forward to receive your email as soon as possible. As I am not around to show the inside, you can go check out the house and the neighborhood from the outside and get back to me if you really like it for more information. Please respond ASAP.

Still have questions? Reach out to our team at [email protected] for additional assistance.

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