There are so many scams on Craigslist and some other sites, how can you verify that it's really the owner of a house or if it's for rent?

Asked by Tara Carpenter, Hudson, FL Sat Apr 14, 2012

I have already found a few scams, especially on Craigslist, but how would a renter know for sure if the house is for rent and if the actual owner is the one they are speaking with. What if they are local and not in another country and collect the cash not a wire? I had one that said she was in foreclosure, but it could take a long time and the court papers would come to the renter at the house. She even said I could speak to the Lawyers secretary. I just didn't want to be living in someone else's house and then be told it was a scam.

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Irina Karan, Agent, Aventura, FL
Wed Apr 18, 2012
You can check the county website - clerk of courts for Lis Pendens, and assessor's office on the ownership of the property. Also, you can address these concerns with your realtor - plus you'll have more properties to choose from MLS (then just limiting yourself to Craigslist that's known for problems related to scams).

Best of luck,

Irina Karan
CDPE - Certified Distressed Property Expert
Beachfront Realty, Inc.
1 vote
Debra (Debbi…, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Sat Apr 14, 2012
To make sure you're dealing with the REAL owner - ask for ID and make sure they are the owner of record (you can check public/tax records).

Also, NEVER send money via Western Unon.......if the person says they can't meet you in person, or it sounds probably IS fishy.

Make sure you meet any potential landlord in person.....another tip off that it is a scam is when the rent sounds too good (too low) to be true!
1 vote
Alma Kee, Agent, Tampa, FL
Mon Apr 16, 2012
If you must rent then rent in a nice complex until you're ready to become an owner.

Even if an owner is current on their mortgage payments, things can change and they could end up in foreclosure and you may have to allow showings.

This is less likely in an apartment complex.
0 votes
Margaret Has…, Agent, Tampa, FL
Sun Apr 15, 2012
You can look up the property owner on public records and ask for identification when you pay the money to get the keys. But I would recommend working with a real estate agent so you don't have to worry.
0 votes
Lynn Brock, Agent, Sarasota, FL
Sun Apr 15, 2012
TLeigh517, yes there are a couple of scams that you may encounter on Craigs List. Scammers are lifting photos from mls (these pictures do have an identification). When you respond and show interest, they will indicate that they are out of the area and will send you a key when you send them a $500 security deposit.

As a renter you'll want to select a home that is not in pre foreclosure or foreclosure. You can check this out in public records. You can also try this website it is suppose to identify (free of charge) addresses that are in foreclosure. I have never tried it and can not verify its accuracy.

Try contacting a rental agent that handles rental properties. Typically, the Seller pays the commission to the rental agent not the renter. As a renter you will have to pay for the application fee which includes a credit and background check.

Good luck,

Lynn Brock
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Alma Kee, Agent, Tampa, FL
Sun Apr 15, 2012
Yet another reason for you to simply stay in your house while waiting for a short sale... you may be required to "show" your rental to prospective Short Sale buyers. As a tenant you have very little control. i recommend you stay in your current home.
0 votes
Realtor Lill…, Agent, Tampa, FL
Sun Apr 15, 2012
Working with a licenced realtor will avoid all these issues.
0 votes
Loretta Roeb…, , Tampa, FL
Sun Apr 15, 2012
If you are inquiring about my current rental (Cypress Hammock) the owners are local and they insist on meeting the tenants. We can show tax docs and identification also. I was their Realtor for this property when they first relocated to Tampa and bought this home and the second home that they live in now.I hope this helps.
0 votes
Not sure which house it was. It was a 4 or 5 bedroom and I emailed the girl a few times back and forth. It was one I saw on Craigslist and she was using the same name as the tax records for the house. The address was on Mossy Oak Circle in Land o Lakes. I loved the house, but am too afraid to move into a house already in foreclosure. I saw one last night on Craigslist that was being rented for $1200/mth on there, but n Trulia it was $2300/month. I informed the person with the Trulia ad about it also. It's so hard to tell these days.
Flag Sun Apr 15, 2012
Suzanne MacD…, Agent, Succasunna, NJ
Sun Apr 15, 2012
Go to the county tax assessor and verify that they are, in fact, the owner. Meet them face to face, NEVER EVER send money by wire ANYWHERE but especially not out of the country. Or work with a realtor. I have done rental transactions with out of state landlords but you can have a level of confidence if the out of state landlord is working with a realtor.

As far as a house in foreclosure, that is becoming more and more of an issue/non-issue. Some states, and I believe Florida is one of them, New Jersey is certainly one of them, take an inordinately long time to complete the foreclosure process and, in the meantime, the owner is still the owner and legally permitted to rent out the house. In New Jersey even when the bank DOES take over the house they are not permitted to evict the tenant as long as the tenant has not violated the lease and is current on the rent. A lawyer is not permitted to mislead you, they owe you a fiduciary duty to deal with you fairly and honestly even if you are NOT their client, and if they violate this duty then they can be subject to punishment for ethics violations. If you speak to this lady's lawyer and he tells you it is all right to rent then home, then it is probably OK. Just be sure to listen very carefully to what they say and ask lots of questions about what happens if... Ideally, however, I would try to find a home NOT in foreclosure.
0 votes
Chas Burdick, Agent, Tampa, FL
Sat Apr 14, 2012
Check public records, and see who the owner is and match the info they give you against public record. You can find out how much they bought it for, when they bought, and even their tax bill. I put a link below to a video that shows you exactly how to search the Hillsborough county real estate records step by step. Its down three videos on the page called tampa real estate investor tools, It's about 3 minutes.
Chas Burdick - Burdick International Realty
0 votes
Joe Laform, , Tampa, FL
Sat Apr 14, 2012
There are a couple ways to verify if the person you are speaking with is the owner or if someone is trying to scam you, or you can call me and I will help you in anyway I can. 813.765.3902 Joe laform
0 votes
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