How can I tell if a rental ad is legitimate?

Finding a new rental to call home can be daunting: competitive and stressful to say the least. Plus, there are people who try to take advantage of applicants through rental scams.

Cozy has several layers of fraud detection that surface most bad listings before they go public. But we encourage you to learn how to protect yourself from rental scams, not only on Cozy, but on every site you use to find rentals.

Do the price, location, and features of the home seem realistic?

If the monthly rent seems too low to be true, it probably is. Scam artists will post photos of beautiful homes in prime locations, at much lower than the market rate, to lure as many applicants as they can into their scams.

Don’t send $$$ without viewing the property.

It’s fine if the landlord doesn’t live near their rental home, but a legitimate landlord should have a local property manager showing the property on their behalf. Renters moving to new cities, who can’t visit the property first, should research the property records and the landlord to make sure the rental agreement is legitimate. Most counties in the U.S. have online public databases where you can look up property ownership at a given address. Look up the county where the rental property is located, then search that county’s property records database.

Note: if you’re working with a property manager, they probably won't be the owner on record. In that case, ask for some supporting documents or information from the landlord before you make your first payment.

Use caution if you’re asked to send payments outside of Cozy, especially through wire transfers.

Wire transfers, through services such as Western Union and MoneyGram, cannot be reversed and should be considered a huge red flag. Scammers posing as landlords will ask you to send money to them before they show you the property, or send you keys, then they’ll disappear after the money clears. Don’t send money by wire transfer. Report any requests for wire transfers to Cozy’s fraud team at trust@cozy.co.

Read more about how to spot these kinds of foreign rental scams here: https://www.fraudguides.com/consumers/rental-scams/

If a landlord seems fishy, trust your intuition.

Extreme pressure to act quickly, excessive grammar and spelling errors in written communication, elaborate tales about why they can’t show the property, and unreasonably forward requests for money are all signs of potential scams. If you feel uneasy about an interaction with a landlord, err on the side of caution. Don’t send any money before thoroughly researching the property and the person you’ve been communicating with.

Here’s how one renter avoided getting duped.

If you believe a property listed on Cozy is a scam, please report it to our Trust and Safety team at trust@cozy.co.

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