Excerpts from Open Doors, a publication of the Residential Tenancies Branch
Advertising on the Internet has a lot of advantages for landlords and tenants. It saves time, increases the number of options and provides unlimited space for details. However, tenants who are apartment hunting online must be aware of the possibility that the advertisement could be a scam.
While the potential for deceit is endless, a recent report to the Residential Tenancies Branch is a good example of how scammers use the Internet.
A tenant found an online ad for a sublet on a Winnipeg apartment. The ad had pictures showing the features of the unit. The advertiser said he had been transferred out of the country and needed to sublet the unit quickly. The tenant e-mailed the advertiser and later wired him a large sum of money for the first month’s rent. When the advertiser demanded more money, the tenant became suspicious and contacted the building’s property manager directly. The manager said the advertiser wasn’t a tenant and that there wasn’t an apartment for rent. Unfortunately, the tenant had no way to get his money back, still had to find a new rental and had to pay another security deposit.
Tips for avoiding online rental scams when subletting a unit:
Whenever possible, ask to see the unit before you agree to rent it.
Contact the actual landlord or property manager directly, to make arrangements to sign a lease and give a deposit.
Pay the security deposit and rent only to the landlord or property manager, not the individual tenant.