7 Common Rental Scams and How to Avoid Them as a Renter
As a renter, it’s essential to be aware of the various scams that can target you and your finances. These scams are specifically designed to target renters and are different from those that landlords may encounter but both can lead to financial losses if one is not careful. To help you protect yourself, we’ve compiled a list of 7 common scams that renters in Kenya should be aware of and provided tips on how to recognize and avoid these scams by following a few simple precautions.
1. Fake listings.
Scammers may create fake listings for rental properties and then request payment in advance. Once the payment is made, the scammer disappears and the renter is left without a place to live.
To avoid this kind of scam check the legitimacy of the property and the person listing it. Look up the address on Google Maps to see if it actually exists and search online to see if the property has been listed on other sites.
Never wire money or send a deposit without first seeing the property in person.
2. Unauthorized Subletting scams.
A scammer will pretend to be the owner of an apartment or house and offer it for rent. The scammer will ask for a deposit and then disappear, leaving the renter without a place to live.
Verify ownership: Before signing a subletting agreement, verify that the person claiming to be the owner is actually the owner of the property. You can do this by checking public records or asking the landlord or property manager directly.
3. Identity theft.
A scammer may ask for sensitive personal information, such as bank account information, in order to “process the rental application.” This information can then be used for identity theft.
Protect your personal information: Don’t share sensitive information, such as your bank account information, unless you are certain it is necessary and you are dealing with a legitimate party.
4. Unsolicited rental offers.
Somehow scammers can know when you are in need of a property to rent. So what they will do is send you an offer to rent you a property out of the blue and give you false information.
To avoid this kind of scam, only accept offers from landlords you have asked for rental properties or from referrals they may have given you.
5. A low-rent scam.
If the rent for a property seems too low for the property be cautious when entering into a tenancy agreement, as it may be a scam.
To avoid this kind of scam, be wary of these types of offers and do thorough research before agreeing to rent the property.
6. Verbal tenancy agreement scam
Some landlords may try to make oral agreements regarding the tenancy agreement which may land you trouble in case something awful happens in the future as you have nowhere to refer to.
To avoid this kind of scam, always insist on signing a tenancy agreement before renting a property.
7. Rent-to-own scams
In a rent-to-own scam, the scammer may offer a property for rent with the promise that the tenant can eventually buy the property. However, the scammer may have no intention of selling the property and may simply be using the arrangement as a way to collect rent without actually transferring ownership.
To avoid this type of scam, be sure to carefully review and understand how rent-to-own works in Kenya so that you may be able to spot scam agreements and consult with a lawyer before signing anything.
By following the tips provided above, you can greatly reduce the risk of falling victim to a rental scam. If you have any additional questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out for support.
And if you have encountered a rental scam, we encourage you to share your experience in the comments below to help educate and protect other renters. Together, we can create a safer and more transparent rental market.