The competitive nature of BC’s rental housing market has led to an increase in rental scams. There are mostly legitimate listings on popular rental websites, but watch out for people trying to take advantage of your need to put a roof over your head. To avoid being scammed, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the rent suspiciously low? How much do similar rental units in the neighbourhood cost?
- Is the person you are contacting not willing to arrange an in-person viewing?
- Are you being asked to mail your deposit in cash or send it electronically before viewing the unit?
- Does the person you are contacting seem too eager? Most landlords will ask for references and/or a credit check before committing to a tenant.
- What do the neighbours say? Depending on the type of housing, you may be able to ask people living nearby about the owner and property.
Thinking about these questions will help you spot some common red flags. If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, it might be best to trust your instincts and look for housing elsewhere – even if that means paying for a hotel/hostel or staying at a friend’s place until you can find more permanent housing.