Every spring in Quebec, the rental period is at its best. In search of the perfect dwelling, it is a race against time! Who will have the last word on this superb four and a half on the Plateau ? It is not uncommon for people to get carried away when faced with an opportunity that is too good to be true. Unfortunately, the number of rental housing frauds has increased sharply in recent years across the country.
Is it the landlords’ fault? Not at all! The cause is web fraudsters who use several schemes to extort money from tenants and the formula is often the same. They pretend to be a landlord and post a dwelling for rent that is not theirs or that does not exist. These fraudsters often ask the future tenant to pay the first month rent in advance without having visited the apartment, or they agree to show the apartment on condition that they have received a security deposit. In any case, once the money is cashed, the fraudster disappears into the infinity of the Internet without leaving a trace.
Kangalou offers you a list of clues that you should pay attention to while looking for an apartment to limit the risk of fraud.
Beware of programmed emails
Beware of generic messages. Fraudsters tend to send the same response message to everyone. Above all, beware of email that contain elements such as italics or colour. Such formatting is rarely used by landlords and may well be used by a fraudster.
Pictures do not match
Once you have the exact address of the rental apartment, make sure that the photos of the apartment match with the building. For example, if the pictures in the listing show two windows in the living room, check the address on GoogleMaps (in Street View mode) and make sure they are there!
A security deposit is demanded to visit
Please note that it is not legal to ask for a security deposit to visit or reserve an apartment. Fraudsters often use this method. They explain, in an email, that many people want to visit the apartment and ask for a security deposit to make sure people show up for the visit. Of course, they mention that your deposit will be given back to you at the time of the visit. Unfortunately, the visit will never take place and your deposit will never be given back to you.
The famous discount!
A classic! The fake landlord explains to you that the apartment has a discount or that he is offering you a free month’s rent because he had to leave town and wants to rent as soon as possible. Impossible to visit the apartment before renting, the fraudster will ask you for a money deposit and for confidential rental information. Please remember, never give your personal information to a stranger.
Impossible to communicate by telephone
A listing seems too good to be true? After a few exchanges by email with the landlord, you should contact him by phone. Very often, fraudsters will not have a phone number to give you or, if there is a number, it is a generic mailbox in English.
Pictures too perfect?
Beware of photos that are too perfect. Fraudsters often use images found on real estate agency websites. With Google images https://www.google.com/imghp?hl=fr, it is now possible to check if the image in question is found elsewhere on the web. Click on the camera icon, import the image and check!
Too good to be true
Beware of listings with irregularities. Fraudsters often list apartments at prices that are derisory for the neighbourhood or options included.
750$ in front of Lafontaine park, pets accepted, all included. It smells like fraud! Finally, avoid all worries by surfing on reliable search sites and redouble your vigilance.
The advantage of Kangalou? The Verified Owner Label
Kangalou offers a unique option in Quebec, a Verified Owner Label that appears on its listings. When you see this “verified” icon, you know that the owner has been verified and that you can communicate with the owner with confidence. A real plus in the current market context!
Anyone who may have been a victim of fraud is invited to go to their local police station or call 911 to file an official complaint or contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.