Phantom rentals, fake landlords and bait-and-switch schemes are costing Americans millions. According to new data, a whopping 5.2 million U.S. renters have lost money due to rental scams.
And renters in Atlanta and D.C.? They’re the most vulnerable.
The Costs Of Rental Fraud
A new analysis from ApartmentList shows that 43.1 percent of American renters have encountered or fallen victim to a rental scam.
These scams can come in many forms. In some cases, it’s a non-existent property listed at bargain-basement prices or the promise of a no-screening application process. In others, it’s trumped-up amenities or a fake landlord who’s hijacked an existing listing they don’t have the rights to.
Whatever the method, these ploys are costing U.S. renters big. Of the 5.2 million victims of the scams, 1 million lost more than $2,000. Another 2 million lost at least $500.
Atlanta renters have lost the most, with 9.5% of renters saying they’ve lost cash to scammers. Washington, D.C., Denver and Las Vegas all have similar stats, with about 9% of renters reporting losses to scams.
It appears younger renters are more at risk, too. According to ApartmentList, renters 18 to 29 are 42% more likely to experience rental fraud. To date, 9.1% of this cohort has lost money to a scam, compared to 6.4% of all renters.
According to Syndey Bennet, ApartmentList’s senior research associate, it may be Millennials’ mobility—or their financial limits—to blame.
“Young renters often move to new cities, for example, for a summer internship or post-grad job and, thus, may be forced to sign a lease sight unseen,” Bennet said. “Additionally, fraudulent listings tend to advertise rentals at a below-market rate, so renters with a tighter budget or less familiarity with the local market are more likely to believe scam listings are real.”
How to Avoid Rental Scams
Want to avoid losing cash on rental scams yourself? Here’s how the experts say to do it: