My work as a real estate professional involves helping individuals and businesses find, rent, or lease the right property for their needs.
BE AWARE OF RENTAL SCAMS
It is important to mention that with so many rental scams going on the internet, it is no surprise that prospective tenants are reaching out to realtors like me to find a place to live. Most tenants are afraid of going through the rental process alone. Most tenants know that licensed realtors are insured and must follow a code of conduct in all real estate transactions. This gives them security and confidence in the rental process.
If you search google for real estate scams, you soon realize how out of control this real estate scamming issue is. Craigslist for example, allows anyone to post an apartment or home for rent without any vetting of the listing person for free. The scam starts with the phony ad, with a price typically below market price to entice renters, a story for an owner that is out of town, a paypal or so account and the sense of urgency in renting the place by the scammer. The scammer collects security deposit money and rents from the victim and then the scammer vanishes, with the tenant's money. Keep in mind that these sneaky scam artists are placing you at risk as the victims most likely will be knocking on your door for keys for a rental that you did not authorize. In some cases, the tenants show up to the house with their moving truck and break into the house thinking they have the right to be there - simply unaware of the scam.
7 TIPS ON HOW TO PREVENT RENTAL SCAMS
Identify the Owner of the Property you are Trying to Rent - Contact the county/city/town tax assessor office or look online for deed recordings for the property.
Dealing in Cash or Wire Transfer is a Bad, a Really Bad Idea - Remember, wiring money is virtually the same as sending cash. When the money's gone, it is almost impossible to trace or recover it.
Deal with a Licensed Realtor Only - Beware of the middleman scam. Doing real estate transactions without having a real estate license on someone’s behalf is illegal in the U.S.
Never Rent Without Having a Look at the Actual Rental Place - Scammers know the value of sought-after properties and desired amenities and will throw everything to appeal to your senses.
Advertising Sense of Urgency - Scammers used this technique because they need to run with your money. They will create a false sense of urgency in a transaction that can be costly for you as a tenant.
Always Have a Written and Signed Lease - Your rental agreement should be fully understood before you sign. Owners must be listed and commissions must be paid to licensed realtor’s broker only.
Do Your Research - Check similar properties in the area for price comparison. Talk to current/previous tenants. See if property is listed somewhere else with a realtor. Check ownership and licenses.
HOW MUCH ARE A REALTOR'S FEES FOR RENTALS?
There are no standard real estate agent fees that apply to all agents across the board — it’s actually against the law to have a fixed fee. All real estate broker’s fees are negotiable. In most cases, when a property is listed on the MLS and the prospective tenant’s realtor presents an offer to lease to the landlord’s realtor, a commission is typically paid by the owner to both realtors, tenant’s and landlord’s, upon execution of the lease. Before you start to work with an agent, make sure you ask what fees you will be responsible for paying.
WHAT DO I DO?
I am an experienced professional expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of selling, buying and renting real estate. Real estate renting may seem to be a very simple process: find the rental property you like, negotiate the price, pay for it and move in. However, there is much more to rentals than just that. There are laws, research, disclosures, inspections, negotiations and other requirements that have to be met.
There are laws established to protect you as a tenant and we are here to make sure they are met during your rental process. For example, how the landlord will hold your security deposit, whether it will earn interest, and how long the landlord has to return it after your tenancy ends. Landlords also have to disclose fees that are to be charged during your tenancy. They have to clearly stipulate what amenities, appliances, utilities are included in your lease as well.
Documenting the condition of the property with photos and proper signatures is also important to have available when the lease ends. Many landlords would claim property damage and try to keep your security deposit as a result. Be prepared to have something to backup your side of the story - we are here to help.
Landlords are also required to disclose the presence of environmental and health hazards, such as lead-based paint (also a federal disclosure requirement), mold, radon, and bed bugs, smoking policy, pet policy or insurance requirements. Landlords are also responsible for all repairs needed to keep your apartment safe and livable- we are here to help.