During our recent attempts at marketing a Los Gatos Rental Studio, one potential tenants got the impression that we were scamming her when we mentioned the $20 fee that we require to process application. She was calling from Colorado and we had even offered to show the unit to one of her relatives or friends.
So, let’s not kid ourselves. Rental Scams and Rental Fraud are alive and well everywhere including in our own Silicon Valley backyard. What can you do then to protect yourself:
1) Google Alerts: Set up Google Alerts with your property address, so Google can notify you if someone searches the address of your property.
2) Blocked Address: Trulia has a neat option where the Property Owners can list their rental while blocking the exact location of the property. This goes a long way to prevent scammers from collecting fees for showing the property since they won’t know where it’s located. However, this solution needs work since Trulia uses Google Map API which shows the location of the property on the map and it would not take that much effort for scammers to find the address of the property.
You could call Trulia Customer Service and have them block the Google Map API on your listing, but that’s extra effort which most Property Owner won’t even imagine to consider.
3) Direct Feeds: Set up daily updates on the availability of your rental property from your website and accept appointments from directly from your website. If you are posting to craigslist, encourage the tenants to contact you through the Website.
4) Protect Photos: Use Water Marks to protect your photos so they could not be used in other websites or publications. You can use VisalWatermarket.com , or Impression app on your iPhone to add water marks to your photos before you use them on your websites. This way, scammers won’t be able to use them if they copy them.
Finally, be on the look out for strange phone calls and odd request. We had a call from an agent who claimed he was a relocation specialist but was telling us the WRONG address of the property which was not even in Los Gatos!
What do you do to avoid being scammed?