Muskoka411 has learned that rental scams are becoming more prevalent in the Muskoka area with multiple complaints from the public. The most common one is the “middleman scheme” where typically the place is real but the person posing as the landlord or property manager does not have access to the alleged rental unit. Scammers take the description and photos of the place off of a real-estate platform and copy all the info into a Kijiji ad or to another platform with classifieds.
Bracebridge OPP has received many complaints of rental fraud in the area and are investigating.
If you feel like the application process feels rushed, you are being pressured into sending money or signing a lease, consider this a red flag.
Here are some tips to identify and avoid rental scams:
- Never rent sight-unseen – Any landlord that is planning to rent out a place is ready to show it and confirm it matches what was posted (if physical viewings due to COVID-19 are being denied, request a live video walk through via FaceTime or another video chat platform)
- Don’t give out confidential information that can be used for identity theft – avoid providing your SIN number. Credit checks can be run without it
- Always sign a written lease that is signed by both parties – the homeowner/property manager and the tenant
- Make sure your lease identifies the homeowner or property manager – your lease agreement should include the homeowner’s name. Anyone working on behalf of the owner should have corresponding documents to prove it. Be cautious of any landlord who tries to remain anonymous
- Be wary of landlords that request little to no information about you – most legitimate landlords will request references, proof of employment, or credit checks
If you have any information about this type of crime, you are asked to reach out to OPP or Crime Stoppers.