Posted May 23, 2014

Tips for Avoiding a Rental Scam

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 2.54.14 PM

With peak rental season right around the corner, we want to make sure that you have the most stress free, streamlined and transparent rental process. It’s important to begin your apartment hunt armed with all of the tools and insight you need to win the apartment of your dreams.

At Lovely, we aim to provide our renters with the most comprehensive outlook on available inventory in any rental market. We want you to have access to the best listings available – in real time. However, sometimes you might come across a listing that seems too good to be true. A large two bedroom apartment with granite countertops and floor to window ceilings in the heart of San Francisco – for $1,500? We’d say that’s definitely too good to be true. Despite proactive steps to encourage trust and transparency, occasionally there’s a possibility of encountering a scam listing.

While we hope this is never the case, we want to give you all of the tools you need to protect yourself against scammers who are only after your money. Check out our best practices for renting and tips on how to deal with rental scammers.

Common Red Flags

Excuse for not being able to meet you in person. If you reach out to a landlord and they get back to you with one of the many excuses under the sun as to why they can’t meet you to view the property, this screams red flag. Any landlord who is serious about renting their property makes it a top priority to actually show the unit. Additionally, if a prospective landlord tells you that you can only see the exterior of the property, you should absolutely steer clear.

On a missionary trip in [insert exotic country here]. We’ve heard this a few too many times. This response typically comes in a follow up email from the “landlord” after you reach out to express interest in their unit. While we appreciate the good intentions,  don’t get wrapped up in their emotional scam. Ultimately, you can’t see the unit because they don’t have one to show.

Excessive punctuation. In all of the wrong places. Lowercase letters, mis-spellings and punctuation galore are some of the tell tale signs that you’re walking into a scam.

You must send a deposit to secure your interest. Anytime the so-called landlord requests money to secure your interest in the place should be immediately written off as a scam.

How to Protect Yourself if You Do Run Into a Scam

Never wire money or pay for anything you haven’t seen in person. You should never be asked to wire money or pay for anything before you actually meet the landlord. This includes deposits to secure the unit, application fees, security deposit and maintenance fees.

Never apply to a unit prior to viewing it. This is not only to ensure best practices in safely renting, but we also want to make sure that you actually like the property you’re committing to. After all, you’re about to sign a year long lease (maybe even longer)!

Never make a security deposit prior to signing the lease. In most cases, you will be required to make a deposit upon signing a lease. The deposit amount typically ranges from 1.5 – 2 times the monthly rent. You should be alarmed, however, if the landlord requests that you make an upfront security deposit prior to signing a lease.

Let us know. If you run into a scam on Lovely, please let us know by reporting the listing or forwarding your email exchange to! We’d like to make sure we can remove these listings and bar these users from ever posting to our site.

We certainly hope you never encounter a situation like any of the ones mentioned above, but if you do, you now have all of the insight you need to make informed renting decisions. Happy hunting!

Elizabeth Pullman


Elizabeth oversees Marketing at Lovely. It is her goal to make sure every single person nationwide knows about Lovely and Lovely Pro!

Lovely Alerts

Get new blog posts delivered right to your inbox.


7 responses to “Tips for Avoiding a Rental Scam”

  1. Michael says:

    I’ve reported a scammer on your site several times and have been assured he’s been removed, yet his postings keep appearing. I’ve lost all confidence that you are doing due diligence with people posting on your site nor removing their accounts when they are obvious frauds.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Michael, thanks very much for reaching out and I’m really sorry to hear about this experience. We really appreciate people like you who take the time to alert us about these listings and the frustration you’ve experienced. We strive to create the most stress-free and transparent experience for our users, so I can assure you that our team is actively working to make sure that we come up with a meaningful and permanent solution to rid Lovely of these scammers. Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. We’d be happy to chat further via Lovely support – Thanks again!

  3. Anna says:

    Dear Lovely team,

    I’m reaching out to you tell you two things. First of all, I like the look & feel of your product. It’s easy to use and it looks beautiful. It’s definitely better looking than other comparable websites/apps.

    However, I will not be using your service anymore. I am very disappointed about how many scams there are. I’m looking for a apartment now since a week and I contacted a lot of landlords. I didn’t hear anything back from most of them.
    The ones who contacted me back, ALL told me to secure the place without having seen it. I read stories like “I’m a reverend working with children in Florida, that’s why I can’t come and show you the apartment”, “I was relocated to Texas”, “I’m living in South Carolina” etc. So many “landlords” ask you to secure the apartment, pay upfront without showing it.

    I am really shocked and surprised how your website can still be of a value for people who are looking for apartments. I read your blog, and you warn people to not transfer anything before you haven’t seen the landlord and/or place. But you should do more than that. I reported all of the incidents and a few days later I saw them showing up again in the listing. This is really not acceptable.

    Unfortunately, I will have to use other less intuitive and beautiful websites, which I can trust.

    I hope you can work on that. Your website has potential, but if it’s full of scammers nobody will use it.


  4. leslie says:

    I’m not a landlord or a renter, but I’ve had people knocking on my door because they saw an ad on your site that told them to. My introduction to your site is scammers endangering my family and invading our property by sending strangers here. This is very upsetting.

  5. M. P. says:

    ” Despite proactive steps to encourage trust and transparency, occasionally there’s a possibility of encountering a scam listing.”

    About half of new listings in the SF market are scams. When I signed up for livelovely I had to provide access to my linkedin profile for verification purposes. Are you vetting listers at all? The suggestion that we use punctuation to tell if a lister is for real is ridiculous verging on insulting.

    • Thanks for reaching out! We review our listings for legitimacy & block users who post fraudulent listings. Keeping scams and fraud off our site is extremely important to us. The actions of our users in flagging suspicious posts or forwarding fraudulent emails to us are a vital part of how we maintain the security and reliability of our site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *