Rental scams, which have plagued communities across Canada for several years, are continuing to take place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington (RAHB) warned the public last week that some of its members have found their for sale properties posted without permission for rent on various classified websites.
With most real estate transactions being conducted virtually during COVID-19, RAHB is encouraging potential renters to be aware of listings that seem too good to be true.
“This pandemic is forcing everyone to be increasingly virtual, and it creates opportunity for scammers to take advantage of the low rental inventory, and those who need safe and affordable housing,” says RAHB president Kathy Della-Nebbia. “Renters need to be extra cautious, exercise good judgement, do their research and contact a local Realtor to avoid rental scams.”
If you see or are affected by a rental scam, Hamilton Police Services suggests reporting the ad to the website where the rental is posted, working with your financial institution if money has been sent, and reporting incidents to local police services and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. There are no telephone lines for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at this time.
To prevent themselves from being a victim of a rental scam, RAHB and Hamilton Police Services recommend that before any money is exchanged, renters should conduct research on listed properties, such as a quick search of the property address on Realtor.ca. Also, be conscious of the language used and remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is, says the association.