Folks looking to rent in Saskatchewan are being warned about online scams as they become more frequent and elaborate.
The Saskatchewan Realtors Association (SRA), Saskatchewan Landlord Association (SKLA) and the Better Business Bureau of Saskatchewan (BBB) are partnering up to share tips on being vigilant when searching for a home.
According to a recent media release from all three organizations, the rental market in the province is currently experiencing higher rents and strong demand, and scammers are taking advantage.
In the release, the SRA CEO Chris Guerette noted that fraudsters are becoming increasingly skilled in capitalizing on these inventory challenges.
“In some cases, rental advertisements use photos from active MLS listings,” he added. “We are urging prospective renters to ensure the property in question is not an active home on the resale market.”
Online rental scams are when an individual impersonates a housing provider by republishing photos from reputable sites and attempts to rent the unit.
In some cases, the scammers receive payment from the victim such as security deposits, rent, or both.
They can even contact locksmiths for the tenant to gain access to the property, using an illegitimate rental agreement. Most times, however, the ‘renters’ do not access the property, and the fraudulent housing provider disappears.
SKLA CEO, Cameron Choquette, pointed out that if a property seems too good to be true, and the landlord is asking for money upfront, it could be a red flag to investigate further.
Consumers and locksmiths across the province are urged to remain vigilant and consider the following best practices:
- Never send money to a rental housing provider until you have viewed the property and signed a tenancy agreement.
- Connect with the rental housing provider by phone or in-person to ensure they are legitimate, and that the property is, in fact, available for rent.
- A legitimate rental housing provider will be transparent about the application and rental process - don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Remember to check out legitimate companies on BBB.org and, if possible, take time to find a company with a solid reputation. Read BBB’s most recent report on rental scams by visiting BBB.org/scamtracker and sign up for scam alerts to increase your protection.