Posted May 30, 2013

Apartment Hunting Tactic: Best Practices for a Secure Rental Search

At Lovely, we want you to have all the right tools to land your next home. As part of this experience, Lovely displays rental data from across the web so you can view all available rentals in one place and get a complete look at the market at any given time. We work diligently to ensure rentals are posted to Lovely as soon as they become available, so you have access to up-to-date rental information and can act fast on properties you care about.

An important part of this process is feeling confident that you’re not only viewing the most complete and up-to-date rental data, but also that you’re dealing with trustworthy property owners and managers throughout your search. After all, it’s hard to imagine a worse rental scenario than finding a place you love, preparing to rent it and then discovering it is not what it seems to be. We’ve taken serious steps to encourage trust and transparency with tools like Lovely’s Renter Card and will continue to introduce new forms of transparency to improve upon this experience. We’ve also built significant technical solutions to protect you from rental scams by blocking suspicious or inaccurate listings from appearing on our site.

Unfortunately no system is perfect. Because Lovely processes listings from across the web so that you have an accurate picture of current market inventory, inauthentic listings can sometimes get passed onto our site. In most cases, these types of scam attempts have one goal in mind: to obtain funds from a user for a commodity that does not exist. Therefore, most often, a scam listing is one that is either not on the market at all, or is on the market but belongs to someone else. Fortunately, these types of scam attempts are easily avoidable by simply not transacting with someone until you see the rental property and meet the seller in person.

In an effort to better serve and inform you as a renter, we’ve outlined a simple set of best practices below to help you identify rental scam attempts and stay secure throughout your rental search. We remain committed to building a transparent rental marketplace and sincerely hope you never encounter a scam listing, but here’s how to protect yourself if you do:

  1. Never wire money. All rental transactions, from application fees, to security deposits, to rent payments, should be conducted either in person or sent electronically only after a face to face meeting. If you have not met the person requesting the money, do not transact with that person.
  2. Don’t pay for anything you haven’t seen in person. Application fees are fairly common, but do not pay anyone who requests money for an application or any other fee before you view the property in person. Make sure to view both the exterior and interior of the rental property before deciding whether to apply and transact with the person.
  3. Do not pay a security deposit or make a rent payment before signing a lease. You may be required to pay a security deposit and will be required to pay rent, but do not make a payment for either until you’ve signed a lease. And again, do not give any money period until you have seen both the interior and exterior of the property in person.
  4. Only pay what you owe. Find out whether your state has legal limits for application fees or security deposits. If it does, make sure you do not pay someone who is requesting more than the legal limit allows.

If someone on Lovely asks you to act against the above practices, we encourage you to report them to us so we can investigate the issue as soon as possible and remove the listing from our site. Here are two ways to report a scam attempt:

  1. From our website, click “Report Listing” at the top right of the listing and submit the listing for review.
  2. From your email, forward any suspicious correspondence to for review, and include a link to the listing. Including the address and price works well too, we just need the basic info to look up the listing.

Again, we’re working hard to prevent you from ever encountering a rental scam on Lovely and hope these simple steps help you to avoid any harm in the case you do.

Happy and safe hunting!


Elizabeth is the Communications & Marketing Lead at Lovely where she helps spread the word about Lovely's mission far and wide. She loves corgis, Beyonce and helping renters enjoy the best possible experience in their homes.

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One response to “Apartment Hunting Tactic: Best Practices for a Secure Rental Search”

  1. I do think that aside from all the physical aesthetics and financial aspects of an apartment, safety is one important consideration. These tips you have shared are indeed very useful and will definitely help out several apartment seekers out there. Thank you for posting.

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