Finding a place to rent in Vancouver is difficult enough given the city’s low vacancy rates and high demand. The last thing a newcomer wants to deal with is financial or identity theft.
Here are some of the most common rental scams and how best to avoid them. Most often, the scammer tries to get money from a prospective tenant. Typically, they are imposters placing the ads but in some cases, they may be an unethical landlord. Either way, be aware of the following:
1) Suspiciously low rent.
If the deal seems too good to be true compared with similar available properties in the same neighbourhood, it probably is. Make sure you’ve done your research on the market so that you can recognize a rental rate that is either a very good deal or more likely a false listing.
2) Early demand for cash.
Once you’ve contacted an alleged landlord, remember that a deposit is never required until a lease is signed. If a landlord is pressuring you for money before you’ve viewed a place or signed a lease, do not do so. Move on to another option instead.
3) Too much information required.
Do not provide a Social Insurance Number (or your national equivalent), credit card or bank account information until you decide to move forward with a lease. In that case, a landlord can ask for proof of employment in the form of pay stubs, a letter from an employer or from a foreign bank (for newcomers to Canada).
4) Overenthusiastic landlord.
Just as you want to make sure a landlord is legitimate, landlords want to ensure you’ll be a good tenant too – and this takes time. They will want to verify your employment, credit score and references and thus, will never say ‘yes’ immediately. If they do, they could be a scammer.
5) Making viewing arrangements difficult.
If you’ve decided you want to view a property and the landlord or property manager keeps changing the time, doesn’t show up at a prescribed time, shows reluctance to share the address, or claims to be out of the country, chances are the post is not legitimate. Cease corresponding with the person and flag them on the platform you are using. A scammer is reluctant to meet to avoid recognition and police descriptions thus, the runaround.
[Vanmates recommends using the liv.rent platform because all landlords and property managers have been verified, thus, providing security to you, the renter. In addition, once you’ve completed your profile (renter resume) and are “verified”, you can apply to multiple listings at once.]
6) Asks for rent payments in cash.
A landlord should always want to use a traceable payment method whether it is a cheque, money transfer or credit card. This is important for you as a renter as it provides evidence that you’ve paid your rent in a timely and complete fashion. If you use liv.rent, the payment feature provides renters and landlords with a digital rent payment receipt which is saved in the chat history between landlord and renter.
Avoid rental scams with profile verification on liv.rent. All landlord profiles with a verified badge are manually verified by the liv.rent team.