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What to Look Out for in Your Next Rental Agreement

An important and essential step to renting a place is signing a lease. Whether you are renting a home, condo, apartment, or vacation place from a corporation, private property owner, friend, or family member, you should have a written rental agreement.

A lease is a legal contract between the tenant and the landlord. It protects both parties by outlining the terms, conditions, and length of the lease.

When signing a rental agreement, it should have:

A lease can have other information, too, including utilities included in the lease if any, parking, laundry amenities, and other facilities, rules or restrictions regarding pets, and rules around decorating, adding to, or making changes to the interior or exterior of the rental property.  Subletting, breaking the lease, visitors, and access are often covered in lease documents.

Red Flags to Look Out For

As the demand for safe and affordable rental places continues to rise, it creates growing opportunities for scammers and shoddy landlords to take advantage of unsuspecting would-be tenants. To avoid being scammed, there are red flags tenants should look for before signing a lease.

Never sign a lease agreement that has incomplete or inaccurate information, or if it lists additional payments or fees, responsibilities, obligations or unreasonable expectations about the care and maintenance of the rental property. If you are not sure if a lease is valid, have a lawyer review it first before signing a rental agreement.

If the address of the rental unit is wrong or does not exist, or if you cannot contact the landlord or they’re hard to contact, or if they are asking for personal information and credit information that is not typical of a rental agreement, the lease could be a scam.

As a tenant, you can buy apartment tenant insurance to protect your personal belongings. Landlords should never request or demand you buy insurance or put them on the policy.

Common Rent Scams

Fake or phantom listings will have a beautiful picture of the rental property; however, the address is incorrect or non-existent, and the description might sound too good to be true. In these scams, scammers often ask for an e-transfer prior to any contact or signing of a lease. Do your research. Always ask to see the property first before signing anything, and never send money first.

Bait and switch scams are common when renters can’t see the property first. With this scam, the place you rent looks nothing like the pictures and description you were given.  Always research the landlord and city first. Ask for a virtual tour if you can’t see the unit beforehand.  

Rent ads are often used by scammers to steal identity, credit, and banking information. When applying for a rental unit or signing a lease, never give personal or financial information about yourself that is not legally required, like your Social Insurance Number, credit card information, bank accounts, PIN numbers, or passwords.

Never complete a lease application and credit check online until after you have met with the landlord and verified that the forms and website are from a trusted source.

How to Protect Yourself

You can avoid a lot of problems or being taken by scammers if you know what to look out for before signing your next lease. Before signing a rental lease agreement, always read the entire lease first before signing. If you have any questions, ask first.

If you are ever in doubt about any of the terms and conditions on the lease, or you are not sure if the forms are legal, have a lawyer review the lease first before signing.

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