Andrea Barri…, Renter in San Francisco, CA

Are most postings scams, or is it normal for rental agents to expect you to hold an apartment with rental app/security deposit before viewing?

Asked by Andrea Barrica, San Francisco, CA Wed May 8, 2013

I've contacted 4 properties, and all of them have encouraged me to sign contract and submit security deposit BEFORE even viewing the place. I have told all of them directly that it sounds like a scam, but am I just not familiar with the competitiveness with the market in SF?

Help the community by answering this question:


A lot depends where you are looking. I'm guessing that you are searching primarily on a "free" website that allows anyone to post ads, without a lot of verification of the legitimacy of those ads - this is where you will run into a lot of these scams.

Regardless of how competitive the market is - sending money to a stranger before you even SEE the property you are committing to rent is a monumentally bad idea.

This is definitely not normal, and more than likely a scam.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 16, 2013
No legit agent would ask for any funds upfront without showing you a property!

Have a great day;

Christina Solorzano;
CEO & SR Credit & Mortgage Consultant of
Everlasting Credit
Ex-Mortgage Broker of more than 10 years
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 16, 2013
To address the huge increase in rental scams the San Francisco Association of Realtors has adding rentals to the Multiple Listing Service. We are also making improvements on the public access to the site and the number of listings will increase as everyone finds out that is will be the best place to act as a trustworthy clearing house for tenants, managers and owners.
Unfortunately the web based “free” sites have attracted scammers who have time and don’t mind just phishing for fools. Over the last few years rental scams have been on a huge upswing and with the rent market so tight in SF it’s proven to be a gold field for the scammers.
When the deal sounds even a bit too good to be true it probably is nothing more than someone trying to separate the prospective tenant from their money. The creativity used in creating the fictional reasons why money needs to be sent before keys are delivered or even access granted could win Pulitzer prizes if there was a category for “Best Grift in Rental Scam”.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu May 9, 2013
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
Unless you are the one asking to lease without viewing sending money seems a total scam - don't do it
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 8, 2013
No, it is not normal for rental agents to ask for app/security deposit before viewing. We’ve seen many complaints similar to yours, on this forum.

Do not comply. The app will provide the person with your permission to run your credit report, in short, everything needed to steal your assets and your identity.

It may be someone operating out of a basement in the Ukraine with no heat. Or someone operating out of a basement in Nigeria with no air conditioner. Ask for the Department of Real Estate license number – which you can then confirm online. You could also ask the local Fraud detail of the DA’s office if it has received complaints against the alleged agent.

Or ….. ring the doorbell and ask the occupant whether she/he is leaving. Show the online ad. Most of the properties are NOT for rent.

Best of luck,

Leopold A Rodriguez
Single Agency Broker 00849905
Attorney at Law
400 Montgomery 505, San Francisco
Office: 415.781.3000
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 8, 2013
This is awesome. Thank you so much. I will take this advice and run with it.
Flag Wed May 8, 2013
That doesn't sound right. I would be wary of anyone who asks for money if you haven't seen the place or met them.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 8, 2013
Good, glad my intuition is right. I don't trust them at all, and I'm shocked 4 postings are all suspicious like this...
Flag Wed May 8, 2013
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