The main rule about renting apartments in New York City is that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. The price of a place is generally equal to its quality, size and location. So if you think you’ve found a unicorn apartment, be very careful – it could be a ruse. Here are some tips on how to avoid rental scams in New York City.
1. Wait for Correct Street Address
Some rental websites will post listings without proper street addresses. This is a huge red flag. People posing as legal brokers often create fraudulent listings by taking pictures of other apartments, creating an attractive rental ad, and then posting without including the exact location.. Write down this information and use it to do some research.
2. Make Your Own Residence
When it comes to rent fraud in New York, how do you know what’s real and what’s not? Do some DIY wear and tear by basic search of the apartment at StreetEasy. For example, if you know the apartment is on Sterling Place in Crown Heights, just search for “Sterling Place” at StreetEasy. On the search results page, you will find a list of buildings in Sterling Place organized by district. Each construction address will indicate the number of available listings and their respective prices. If none match the list you found, that’s a red flag. If you find one, yes, click on the build page to check if the description of the building and unit matches what you found. Pay close attention to the number of bedrooms, price, photos and listed amenities.
3. Cross-reference the Address of the Residence
As a further precaution, cross-reference the address on Google Street View to see if the StreetEasy building matches what you see in the photos on the map. If for example the description of the building and listing indicates that the apartment is in an elevator building, look for buildings on the block of more than six storeys. Again, if the broker fails to give a correct street address, that is a major red flag.
4. Even Lists With Addresses Can Be New-Rent Luke Scams
When a list identifies an address and a unit, it is typically a sign that the landlord has chosen a specific rental agent or brokerage to represent the unit. This is called an exclusive list. Some rental brokers, however, will manipulate the system and advertise the apartment as its own without having an explicit right from the landlord to do so. You can use the same techniques mentioned above (i.e. search for StreetEasy for the address and then cross-reference it with Google Street View) to check if game fraud in New York is playing.
Once you find the listing at StreetEasy, check out the price, amenities and photos. Also be sure to check with the rental broker. Does the rental agent identified on the rental listing at StreetEasy match the rental agent in the listing you found? If there is a difference, be careful.
5. Approach Luxury Lists Carefully
For some large luxury rental buildings, the building’s management company takes care of advertising and rental housing – not individual brokers. Individual brokers, however, sometimes advertise these listings as their own means of attracting potential tenants. Don’t fall in love with this! Instead go directly to the building’s on-site rental office and work directly with the team there. Often working directly with the building’s leasing agent can give important concessions, including a waiver broker’s fee, a security deposit, or even a month or more free rent.
You can use the StreetEasy building to cross-reference any listings you find on other websites. If the list indicates an address in a large luxury rental complex, check out the building or complex page at StreetEasy to see who handles renting. If there is an on-site rental office, call or visit it directly.
6. If Renting a Curiosity Unseen, Do Your Homework
Renting an apartment without first seeing it in person was unthinkable. Creating a fabricated “apartment” with photos, links, even a Facebook profile was once one of the most common NYF rental scams.
Then came COVID-19. Today, thanks to social distance, virtual excursions are common, and remote dwelling hunting is an everyday occurrence. However you still have to keep your guard. If you can’t see a location in person before pressing a rental, don’t be afraid to ask. And make sure the real estate agent or landlord responds to everyone’s satisfaction. Many agents will practically walk you through the apartment via FaceTime, showing you the views through windows, the interiors of closets and everything else you might want to see (or hear!).
7. The Biggest NYC Rental Scam? Avoid All Cash Agreements
If the real estate agent or landlord is asking for money up front to secure a place, that’s a reason to think twice. It’s a classic NYF charter. If you don’t have a signed lease yet, getting a cashier’s check or mail is always the way to go.
8. Be Careful of Subletting Scams
If you rent, do your due diligence. It is often for people will rent their apartments for a month, six months or a year. If you rent, get a copy of their lease and confirm it with the landlord. And make sure the man is the master and not some deceiver who poses as the master. People were also evicted out of thousands because the tenant left his rent behind and will soon be evicted, or the landlord never approved the unit for sublease, first.
9. If You Think You See a Scam on StreetEasy
We work hard to ensure that all listings at StreetEasy are accurate and reliable. So if you think you’re seeing something wrong, or just weird, we want to know about it. It’s easy to report a questionable list to us via our “report a problem” link, which you’ll find on every StreetEasy listing, and we’ll investigate immediately.
If you see or experience possible fraud or fraud, don’t forget to report it to the authorities as well. You can report NYF rental scams to one of New York consumer protection agencies, or to local police. And if you have concerns about your landlord, there are many rights organizations of tenants that can help.