It would be highly unethical not to show you the house and ask for the deposit. I believe that first you need to see if you are interested in a property itself before you invest the money. I have never seen an agent asking for a deposit upfront.
You might want to check out if the person who is trying to collect the deposit is the agent listing that property. There has been some shady business going on with rentals lately.
I hope that helps.
Are you looking for rentals in that particular area? Email me so I can send you some available properties that are safe to move forward with.
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Northridge, California 91324
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This definitely does not sound right. You should definitely be able to tour a property before you are required to pay your lease deposit. This sounds like it may be some kind of rental scam.
Please feel free to contact me with any real estate related questions. I would be happy to provide a list of available properties for lease in your area at no cost.