Rent to own homes (also called lease option or lease purchase) has become a popular way of getting into a house when your financial situation has thrown your house hunt for a curve.
But, you may have heard of some of the scams out there that have left lots of honest people out thousands of dollars instead of in a home of their dreams. Some recent tenant deposit taking schemes, mainly from predators using websites like Craigslist (which is a very legitimate website to find great rent to own houses) have made it into the news and has many would be rent to own tenant buyers nervous about whether or not the house they’re looking at is also a “scam”.
Rent to Own Home Scams in Columbia – How to Avoid Scams That Are Out There
There has been an increase in scams that are out to fleece either potential tenants or homeowners. Several forms of scams exist that have come out in recent years.
There are those scammers who take advantage of popular property buying and selling websites to scam potential tenants, especially foreigners.
They create counterfeit websites of the popular sites and put up enticing advertisements. Once a person falls for them, a series of email communication flows and the tenant makes a deposit, and that is it – once that deposit money is sent over to the scammer… it’s nearly impossible to track down who did it or how to get the money back.
The biggest scam that is out there for potential renters or rent to own buyers is described below.
Taking Deposits On A House They Don’t Own… Then Disappearing Into The Night
Some scammers are getting really smart about how they intend to part you with your hard earned money.
The biggest one today is where a scammer finds vacant properties where the owner of the house lives out of the area…
… they break into the house, take pictures, then they upload those pictures and a “for rent” or “rent to own” listing on websites like Craigslist.
The listing looks legitimate… so you go and look at it… maybe even meet the scammer face to face… they tell you there are other people looking to rent the house as well so you better put a deposit on it today… so you do.
What you don’t know is that that scammer had a whole slew of other potential renters visit the same house that day and put a deposit on the house as well.
The scammer then takes the deposits… cashes the checks… and disappears.
A version of this scam also can happen where you don’t even see the house and the scammer tells you that you may want to put a deposit on the house asap because there are others interested. So you do, even before you see the property in person, and your money is gone forever.
How To Avoid Rent to Own Scams – Some Quick Tips
Ok, so you know there are scammers out there.
Now… how do you avoid being a victim to a scam and how do you protect yourself during the process?
First off… verify that the person / company you’re dealing with is legitimate.
Our company, SC Property Advisors, is registered with the state of South Carolina which you can verify online… and you can find our company listed on many online business directories where it’ll show all of our contact information. If you’re working with an individual (a person, not a company)… when you see the “owner”… if you feel anything is off at all… don’t be afraid to ask to see their drivers license for proof of their name and address… and write down their license plate number of their car before you leave.
Tip #1: Verify the identity and contact info of the person or company marketing the property so you know they’re honest and legitimate
Tip #2: Never give a cash deposit… and never hand a deposit check over without a contract in hand to a person you’ve verified is legitimate.
Tip #3: Don’t ever feel pressured to put a deposit down “today!” if you feel uncomfortable doing so. Trust your gut.
Tip #4: Search the address of the property online and see if you can find the name of the owner on record. If that doesn’t match up with the person you’re working with… ask that person for proof of their identity and ability to rent the house to you.
Tip #5: As a last resort, if you ever don’t feel right about it… just leave. There will always be more houses that will come around.
A quick rundown for you…
- When visiting the property, ask the Identity of the agent.
- Avoid buying agents that are not yet established. Go for established ones.
- Carry out due diligence on landlords websites to be sure the websites and the landlords are genuine.
- Avoid making upfront payments until you are certain the agents or landlords are genuine.
- Treat prospective clients whose emails are written in broken English with suspicion. You may search them in google to find out whether they have been listed as scammers or not.
- Seek the advice of experts or the experienced in the property market.
- When making payments, ensure you have a lawyer involved.
In conclusion, it is up to you to be diligent enough to avoid being scammed. They say when the deal is too sweet, think twice. Don’t rush into sealing deals before giving them a second thought. Hopefully these tips will help you avoid rent to own home scams in Columbia and arm you with a new sense of confidence when you’re out there looking for your next house!
Looking For A Reputable Rent To Own House In Columbia? See Our Available Properties Below!
We at SC Property Advisors are one of the Columbia South Carolina area’s leading rent to own house experts.
If you have any questions about the rent to own process or just want to see if renting to own a house is right for you… don’t hesitate to reach out to us by giving us a call at (803) 702-0700 or email us on our Contact Page.
Plus, see the Columbia rent to own houses we have available and get on our Early Alert Email List to see new rent to own houses as they become available.