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4 Warning Signs to Help You Spot a Short Term Rental Scam

On paper, a certain short term rental property may seem like the perfect fit for you. Unfortunately, sometimes the short term rentals that seem the best initially can turn out to be the biggest scam once you move in.

Here are four warning signs that will help you spot a short term rental scam – before you sign a lease agreement!

1. Check out the Property in Person

Many short term rental scams involve including photos on the advertisement that don’t actually match a real property. Other times, the property does not match the address that’s stated in the ad.

Since many short term renters pay for a rental property site un-seen, this can easily lead to disappointment when you show up at a property that doesn’t exist. There’s often no way of tracking down the fraudster since false contact information is normally provided.

Depending on your situation, it can sometimes be impossible to check out a rental property in person. That’s why it’s best to use a reputable realtor or broker. At the very least, have a trusted friend who lives in the area check it out for you before placing a deposit.

2. Do Your Research

Besides using Google to find a short term rental, it can be helpful to source potential rental scams, too.

If you’ve narrowed down a property that you’re interested in, research the property provider online with the term “complaint.” Many rental websites provide “scam alerts” when searching; Craiglist, for example, gives users the option to red-flag suspicious looking rental properties.

3. Connect with the Current Owner

It’s always interesting to find out why a short term rental has become available.

If there’s not a reasonable explanation from the current owner, then that’s a red flag. If you can’t even connect with the owner directly on the phone to pose questions of concern, then that’s an even bigger red flag!

If the property owners are a professional business, this is much easier to check out. Some even have an office in the building, lending credibility and stability – in which case you are in the “Apart-hotel” business.

4. Trust Your Instincts

Your intuition is sometimes the best guide towards spotting a short term rental scam. If at any point throughout the rental process you start to get a bad feeling, trust your instincts…they’re normally right!

Finding a great short term rental that meets your requirements can be difficult enough without having to worry about being scammed! But watching for these four important warning signs can help you avoid potential problems before you sign any paperwork.

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By Sarah McKenzie

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