Letter: RCMP warning of rental scam

submitted by St. Albert RCMP

St. Albert RCMP is warning potential renters in St. Albert to be aware of some ads for places to live. The rental scam is a common one involving rental properties. Rental scams vary but here are two of the more common scenarios:

A fraudster has somehow obtained access to a property or place. They pose as a landlord / property manager and show the victim the property. They then request an immediate down payment to secure the property and inform the victim they can move in at a later date. On the move-in date, the victim arrives only to discover it wasn’t actually a rental, and there have been other victims as well.

A fraudster poses as a landlord and says they are out of the country and require a deposit on the rental. Once the money is paid, usually through a money transfer, the new tenant discovers there isn’t actually a rental.

As a renter, there are some precautionary steps you can take to protect yourself from falling victim to scams such as this. First and foremost, apply common sense.

Tips

1/ Ensure a proper tenancy agreement is drafted and signed by both parties. This agreement should include names and addresses for the landlord.

2/ Ask the landlord to show picture identification as proof he / she is the person named in the document. While it is not a requirement that they produce identification, the renter should be suspicious if they refuse.

3/ As a renter, you might consider asking to see previous utility bills for the residence to confirm identity of the landlord.

4/ Check rental rates in the same area. Often fraudsters will try to entice their victims with low prices to elicit multiple victims.

5/ Avoid wiring money ie Western Union. There’s never a good reason to wire money to pay a security deposit, application fee, first month’s rent, or vacation rental fee.

For general information relating to entering into a tenancy or ending a tenancy, please visit the Edmonton Landlord and tenant advisory boards and info services at www.edmonton.ca/ltab.

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