CLAYTON – The Clayton Police Department has a warning for would-be renters – BE AWARE.
With five or more people moving to the Clayton area every day, CPD has seen an increase in reports of rental fraud.
“We want to welcome everyone to the area, but we need to let people know that they should be cautious when looking at places to stay,” Sgt. P.D. Medlin said.
He explained that CPD has taken several reports in only the last few weeks where a would-be renter sees an ad for a house for rent or rent-to-own that appears to be “a good deal.” The renter then pays a deposit or first month’s rent only to discover that the individual they had been speaking with does not own or have anything to do with the house in question.
Most of these would-be scammers operate these rental frauds from out of state or even out of the country using internet platforms such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to advertise homes for rent. Medlin said that recently these thieves have begun to get more brazen by using mainstream real estate sites such as Trulia, Zillow and Rent.com.
In order to protect themselves from fraud, CPD recommends that would-be renters “be aware” of the following signs/steps that may indicate a potential rental scam:
- Bad grammar or lack of photographs in fraudulent ad
- Eagerness to negotiate rent or other lease terms with no background check
- Avoid any requests to wire money orders or make payments in cash
- Watch out for deals that are too good to be true
- Abnormally high or low security deposits or upfront fees are red flags
- Review any lease agreement carefully
- Ensure you or an agent check the residence in person before making any security deposits