Inflation affects the rental market in its own particular way: new frauds related to the rental of a housing are emerging. Indeed, an article published by TVA Nouvelles - “Houses for rent without the knowledge of the owners: beware of fraudsters!” reported a new fraud that would have appeared with inflation: “Fraudsters have developed a new scheme to trap their victims: houses to rent without the knowledge of their owners.”
With rising interest rates, many tenants delay or cancel their purchase project and remain tenants, or many can no longer afford their mortgage, sell and become tenants again. A normal phenomenon when interest rates are too high.
But fraudsters use the listings of real-estate brokers to advertise housing for rent: “The fraudster asks the potential tenant to pay a sum of $1500 as a deposit before even going to visit the premises.”
The Association des Propriétaires du Québec (APQ) vigorously denounces this type of practice and these frauds damage the image of rental-housing owners.
No tenant should pay a deposit or fee to visit a dwelling.
On the website of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), an entire section is devoted to fraud - renting a dwelling, and here are the prevention tips (2):
• The address of a rental property should be indicated in the advertisement.
• By searching on the Internet for the address of the accommodation to rent, it is possible to see if Internet users have been victims of fraud.
• By searching the Internet with the images of an ad, it is possible to see if these have already been published on other sites. Sometimes fraudsters use photos from other ads. Photos that are too professional could indicate fraud. To check if a photo is being used on other sites, go to Google Images, click on the camera icon and follow the instructions.
• Enter the address of the building in Google Maps and compare some architectural elements of it, such as shape of windows, presence of a balcony, type of front door, etc.
• A landlord should be able to be reached by telephone, not just by e-mail. “When you are answered by e-mail, your exchange should not seem generic”.
• Visit the apartment before signing the lease (and not a neighbouring or similar dwelling).
• Meeting with neighbours can be a way to validate if the dwelling is indeed for rent and that the landlord is also who he claims to be. “Consult the property assessment roll of the municipality to validate the name of the owner”.
• If an offer sounds too good to be true, it is probably a fraud.
Vigilance is therefore required for all!