MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The perfect storm is brewing for rental real estate crooks in the Mid-South.
Between the lack of affordable housing and the more than 20% rent price increase in Memphis, the Better Business Bureau said it was seeing a surge in reports of scammers trying to take advantage of those in need. ‘housing.
The Mid-South BBB said it has had at least 22 rental scam reports so far this year, with victims losing more than $ 16,000 in total.
“They are preying on people they think are desperate to find another place to live,” said tenant Stacy Morgan.
Morgan has been looking for new accommodation for several months.
After finding what appeared to be a legitimate listing for a rental home online, she went to visit the property.
âWhen I arrived at the scene there is a large sign on the door stating that there are a lot of scams going on,â she said.
Growing suspicious, she tried to call the alleged owner, but was unable to reach a real person on the phone.
She decided to continue her research elsewhere.
A few weeks later, she went to see another property for which she signed a lease. It turned out to be another scam.
âHe’s never met me at the property,â Morgan said. “He made me collect the keys from someone who was supposed to be the next door neighbor, and he was very adamant about charging me immediately.”
In this case, Morgan has already paid the bogus owner $ 500 for a security deposit. His bank was able to get the money back from him.
Between the pandemic and the lack of affordable housing, property rental scams like these are on the rise.
âMany rental properties now you no longer need to have a real estate agent or someone to accompany you due to the safety regulations and the rental market is just very hot so it can be very difficult over there, âDaniel Irwin with the Mid-South BBB said.
When looking for a home or rental property, Irwin said it’s a good idea to confirm the identity of the owner and familiarize yourself with the rental prices in your area.
He also said to make sure you visit the property and never wire money to someone you don’t know.
âPay attention to the red flags like there’s a sign for sale in the front yard, but you’re renting the house, ask questions. The more questions you ask the owner, the better.
Morgan said she hopes her experience will encourage others to be more careful.
âYou just need to be more attentive and make sure you read everything and do your research,â she said.
If you’re renting to someone who claims to own the house and they can’t meet with you in person, Irwin said you can contact the county real estate appraiser’s office to confirm who owned the property.
Also, just because someone sends you a lease doesn’t mean it is legitimate. Have someone else check the lease for you and watch out for red flags like misspellings.
Â© 2021 Cox Media Group