The average landlord in the Pasadena area is a very upright and honest citizen and scamming anyone is the last thing on his mind. But, if you see any of these signs, you should think twice before you sign a lease.
Unable to Tour the Actual Home in Person
You have found what seems to be the perfect home online or in the local newspaper, but the landlord says he wants to meet outside of the home and comes up with a number of excuses as to why you can’t see the inside. Even if they are standing there telling you the place will be gone tomorrow, don’t fall for this trick, you never know what lies hidden behind the door.
The Landlord Does Not Have a Rental Application
What no rental application? How can this be, it means no credit or background check, no need for any kind of references? At the same time, it might indicate that the landlord doesn’t want to deal with paperwork or leave any kind of paper trail. This also might show that the landlord cannot be trusted and that their intentions are less than genuine. It also means you should keep looking for your new home.
They Want Too Much Money Up Front
Sadly, there are many laws in place regarding the types and amounts of any fees a landlord can ask for up front. Most will ask for the first and last month’s rent and a one-month security deposit. If they ask for anything more, you may find their requests to be illegal. Be sure to check with your local laws or consult an attorney before you shell out half your life’s savings. Of course, before you give up any money be sure you are going to be given a written receipt.
Get Everything in Writing
Make sure you get everything in writing as this will create a legal paper trail that can be used in a small claims court should you ever encounter a problem that requires it. If the only way you ever hear from your landlord is on the phone, never by email, text, or postal mail, view this as highly suspicious. Most scammers don’t want to leave any type of paper trail as doing things this way will create a lack of evidence that will make it difficult or impossible to prove your case. Even if they don’t respond in writing, keep send those emails or letters and keep a record of them, use certified mail for everything.
Avoid the Security Deposit Hassle
One of the most common forms of landlord fraud concerns your security deposit. Many will withhold all or at least some part of your security deposit without giving you a written explanation as to why. You may find you are being charged excessive fees for things like repairs or cleaning, much of which you have probably already done yourself before you moved out. Be sure you get receipts showing the costs and ask for comparison written estimates from a number of local companies.
It might take you a little time to take care of all of this, but you may find the time spent to be more than worthwhile in terms of finding the right home and not getting scammed.