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Rental Housing Scams: How to Spot and Avoid

Don't fall victim to a housing scam. Know all the red flags before committing to a property.
Jaanu Surendran
May 17, 2022
3 min read
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Finding a suitable rental in Ontario can be difficult. As you hunt for rentals, there are people who might want to take advantage of your situation and profit from it illegally. It is important to be on the lookout for warning signs of possible scams, and understand your rights at the same time.

A housing scam can come in many forms. Someone can attempt to trick you into paying for a unit they do not own or have control over. They may also try to trick you into giving them your personal information for unsavory purposes.

In Ontario, most landlords require first and last month’s rent when you sign a lease agreement. It is also normal for them to ask for some personal details to run a credit check on you.

However, some landlords may illegally ask you for extra fees or costs you do not have to pay. That is why it is important to know your rights as a tenant under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).

What are the Signs of a Scam?

Here are a few warning signs of possible scams:

  • The landlord requires payment in cash or through a wire transfer.
  • The apartment or house is much cheaper than other units in the area.
  • The landlord is not available to personally show you the unit.
  • You're asked to leave a deposit without any formal rental agreement or lease in place.
  • You're asked to send money to someone outside the country.
  • The unit is posted on multiple websites with different contact information.
  • The unit looks very different than it did in the pictures you saw.
  • The landlord asks for a large amount of money to rent or apply to rent the home.

How do I Avoid a Scam?

Below are a few tips to avoid housing scams:

  • Use the internet to find actual pictures of the property at the given address.
  • You may even conduct a reverse image search to see if the photos provided were used elsewhere.
  • Carefully read your rental agreement and any other papers you are asked to sign.
  • Ask the person showing you the unit about the history of the unit you are viewing.
  • If you plan on renting in a new development, contact the builder to confirm ownership.
  • Don’t give money to the landlord without meeting them and seeing the unit in person.
  • Be careful who you provide your personal information to. Your Social Insurance Number (SIN) is not required to perform a Credit Check.

If you think you have been a victim of a scam contact the local police or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. You may also want to contact the Landlord and Tenant Board. For more information, feel free to reach out to us.

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Jaanu Surendran
May 17, 2022
3 min read
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