What documents can I request from a rental property owner in order to verify their listing?

Asked by Kyle Oi, Menlo Park, CA Wed Sep 5, 2012

I really don't want to get scammed.

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The Medford…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Thu Sep 6, 2012
1. Start by looking up the address on Google. If it shows up on Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com or other real estate websites as an active listing, it’s not for rent. RUN.
2. If it has a real estate sign on it, always call the agent listed on the sign to confirm the status.
3. Check to see if it has blue or grey real estate lock boxes – if it does, chances are it’s a listing, not a rental.
4. If you are dealing with a reputable Property Management company, then you should be fine. You can check these companies out with the Better Business Bureau or with local Realtors.
5. You can check out a potential landlord at http://www.CheckYourLandlord.com.
6. You can ask a local realtor to run a tax search on the home to determine who the actual owner is – compare this with whoever is “showing” you the property. If the person showing you the home is different, as for a copy of a letter of authorization or management company agreement.
7. NEVER do keys by mail.
8. NEVER cash money orders or checks from a “landlord” and send money back. NEVER send payments through Western Union, MoneyGram, etc.
9. Ask the neighbors – most neighbors have a very good idea of what is going on with any given property. If it IS a rental, ask how long previous tenants were there and why they left.
10. Make sure you check the keys. Do a thorough property inspection. Take pictures of any issues.
11. Count on the landlord giving you standardized rental/lease agreements, damage deposit agreements and the like.
0 votes
well, trulia took it off their listing, flagging it as a fraud, so...I'm not taking it.
Flag Mon Sep 10, 2012
Maria Cipoll…, Agent, Coral Springs, FL
Thu Sep 6, 2012
Hi Kyle,

Excellent question. Search the tax records. Tax records are documents that indicate by lot or parcel number who owns the property. They are websites like Public records.Peoplesmart.com that can give you that information for free.

After you have the name of the owner, try to meet him or her at the property to make sure that they
are very familiar with details of that home. And finally, ask to see copy of the current tax bill, home owners insurance and current mortgage statements.

Good Luck,

Maria Cipollone
0 votes
Walter 'Skip'…, Agent, Brea, CA
Thu Sep 6, 2012
In addition to Marcy's suggestion, you could ask to see a copy of their current tax bill and/or current mortgage statement. You are wise to be cautious.
Good luck,
0 votes
Marcy Moyer, Agent, San Ramon, CA
Wed Sep 5, 2012
Kyle that is a great question considering the scams going on right now. You should always go to the house and get inside with the person who says they are the owner. Watch them unlock the door. Having keys to a house is a good way to make sure they own the house. You can also check county property tax records online. You can put in the address of the house, the owners name, or the APN number to verify who owns the house. I would ask the person to give me the APN number then look it up on county records and make sure the person renting is the one on the records. If that does not make sense let me know.
Marcy Moyer
DRE 01191194
0 votes
Glen Mitchell, Agent, Half Moon Bay, CA
Wed Sep 5, 2012
Not sure I follow you. Are you trying to verify that they own the house? There are a lot of scams out there for people that say send them the money and they will send you the keys. Don't do it!!
0 votes
That's a good enough answer for me. Thanks.
Flag Wed Sep 5, 2012
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