No it is not reasonable to pay a deposit before you see a home. If you are forced to do this, I would try to place the deposit on a credit card so you can dispute the charge if necessary.
Best of luck,
ERA Buy America Real Estate Services
You have to be careful when renting these days as the current state of the economy has ushered in plenty of rental scams. Many would be Renters have provided deposits only to find the person who placed the ad did not even own the property and their deposit has vanished.
As far as your question:
No, it does not sound reasonable; however, you can exercise some due diligence to protect yourself. Once you believe you have found a property you are interested in and the person who has asked you for the deposit is:
A legitimate Property Management company this may be OK; however, I certainly would check into whether the company has any complaints filed against them or have prior court judgments (typically found on County Recorder online databases).
An individual stating they own the property a) see if you can find the property using the owners name at http://www.blockshopper.com and/or b) contact an agent and let them know you are concerned about being scammed and ask that they check the public tax records to confirm the property's ownership. In addition, you may want to also ask if a Notice of Default of Trustee Sale has been recorded, which would indicate the owner may lose the property to foreclosure. Regarding this last point see:
CA's "Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act" - need to know info!
Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
I would never give any money before I have
1.) seen inside the property,
2.) read the lease agreement (and am OK with the terms of the contract),
3.) signed the agreement and have the landlord or authorized agent also sign the contract in my presence
4.) and received the keys to the property (check to make sure they work)
It is normal for the landlord or designated agent to ask for a fee to run a credit check, but I believe it is always a RED FLAG when they ask for or require 1st month's rent and/or a security deposit without giving the tenant the keys and a fully executed lease agreement.
Also asking a REALTOR to confirm the owner of the rental property would be wise.
Hope this has been helpul.
Prudential California Realty
Barbara Robbins-Olexa, Broker
L B Brokerage
No it does not seem reasonable. Do not pay anything to anyone until you have seen the property and have met with either the owner or his agent.
Fran and Mark Redding
Prudential Fox & Roach, Realtors
1010 Stony Hill Road
Yardley, PA 19067