A red house cutout beside a sign that reads 'RENTAL SCAM' against a rustic wooden background, warning of potential fraud in housing.

How to Avoid Rental Scams

Written by Greystar
Edited by Greystar
Lifestyle April 26, 2023

Greystar Real Estate Partners has been made aware that a rental scammer is using Greystar’s name.

If you have been affected by a scam, or have been contacted in relation to tax services, please follow the steps the US government outlines and report it. Refer to our safeguarding tips below for more information:

Renting a new apartment is an exciting time, but navigating all of the logistics can feel overwhelming at times, especially if you’re a first-time renter. While finding the perfect floorplan and location are important, there are several other parts of the process that need your full attention. Ensuring that you’re dealing with a legitimate and reputable property owner should be at the top of that priority list. 

Unfortunately, many renters still fall prey to apartment rental scams. Dishonest landlords and phony listings often entrap potential renters in a web of financial headache they never anticipated. These tips will help you spot potential rental fraud and safeguard you against it.


What is a Rental Scam, and How Common Are They? 

Rental scams occur in a variety of ways. Perhaps the most common fraud is when someone claims to be a property manager or landlord for an apartment they don’t own or one that doesn’t even exist. When the fraudster does actually own the property, they’ll frequently alter the listing to make the apartment seem much more appealing than it is. Some scammers require you make a deposit before signing the lease to try and lock you in financially.

A survey from 2018 shows that an estimated 43.1% of renters have come across a suspicious listing, and 5.2 million renters in the U.S have lost money from rental scams. The primary targets for apartment scams are renters ages 19 to 29, of which 42% are more likely to take a hefty hit. Despite being very tech-savvy, most young renters may not immediately recognize a scam when they see one. They’re a generation who routinely move to new cities, so they’re often on the hunt for a low-budget deal, making them more susceptible to a fraudulent listing. 


How Do I Safeguard Myself Against Rental Scams?

1. Beware of fake listings 
It’s essential to be vigilant against scams before it becomes too late. If a listing or deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Check the listing thoroughly for any apparent errors or vague information – poor grammar or spelling could be a sign that the supposed landlord is not credible.

2. Always do your research

Make sure the property you’re considering is legitimate. Always ask to meet with the owner and see the property in person. If the landlord refuses to let you see it or demands a deposit first, that’s a red flag. Verify the apartment’s ownership by looking up city records or speaking with a building manager.

3. Never deal in cash
Cash-only operations are untraceable and, thus, very easy for a scammer to leave with your money. A lot of scam artists insist on dealing in cash only or using wire-transfers. Be especially cautious if the person asks for a security deposit upfront before signing a lease agreement.

4. Protect yourself by signing a written lease
Verbal agreements are unreliable and can cause trouble later down the line. A written contract has all the variables of a lease laid out in case something goes wrong. Report any suspected rental fraud to your local law enforcement or the Federal Trade Commission.

5. Rent from a reputable management company
Take the worry out of getting scammed by renting through a credible source, like Greystar. Trusted property management companies have experienced leasing agents that follow set procedures to help ease your concerns and make the process simpler.

Follow this advice, and it will help you find a new, secure place you’ll love without added, unnecessary stress. Educating yourself on the various types of rental scams is the first step to staying safe.


Fake Profiles

It's important to be vigilant when it comes to rental scams, as scammers are constantly finding new ways to deceive unsuspecting victims.

One tactic that has become increasingly common is the use of fake social media profiles. Scammers create profiles that appear to be legitimate, often using stolen photos and personal information to make them seem convincing. However, these profiles are merely a front for the scammer's real intentions.

If someone contacts you through a social media profile and offers a rental property, it's essential to verify their identity and the legitimacy of the rental before proceeding. Greystar does not operate through personal social media profiles and a legitimate employee would never instigate renting a property, signing a lease agreement or the exchange of monies in this manner.

Remember, scammers shouldn't be trusted, and it's always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your safety and financial security.


Other Blogs to Check Out:


This article was updated to include 'Fake Profiles' on 4/26/2023.

The information presented on or through this Website is made available solely for general information purposes. We do not warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of this information. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk. We disclaim all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on such materials by you or any other visitor to this Website, or by anyone who may be informed of any of its contents.  Any reference to amenities, services, rules, policies, or procedures at a Greystar apartment community is general in nature, and each Greystar apartment community may have amenities, services, rules, policies, and procedures that differ from those referenced on this Website.  Please consult with your Greystar apartment community for the exact amenities, services, rules, policies, or procedures applicable.
This Website may include content provided by third parties, including materials provided by other users, bloggers, and third-party licensors, syndicators, aggregators, and/or reporting services. All statements and/or opinions expressed in these materials, and all articles and responses to questions and other content, other than the content provided by Greystar, are solely the opinions and the responsibility of the person or entity providing those materials. These materials do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Greystar. We are not responsible, or liable to you or any third party, for the content or accuracy of any materials provided by any third parties.

Scroll to Top