Police warn of rental property scams, tips to stay aware

Georgetown Police say it's not a huge issue, but warn to stay cautious

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WTVQ) – Looking for a home is stressful enough without the added worry of a fake listing. Georgetown Police are cautioning the community against rental property scams. Police say while this isn’t a huge issue at the moment, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

“Georgetown’s continuing to grow, still the fastest growing community in Kentucky,” says Georgetown Police Assistant Chief Darin Allgood. “We do have an increasing population, so, but luckily, like I said, we’ve only had a couple but just be careful.”

Police say these scams are not just something tenants should look out for, but landlords as well. On the tenant side, police say the scam usually involves having to pay the deposit without seeing the property while the supposed owner says they’ll mail you the keys. Spoiler alert- the keys never come and the tenant is out the money for property that often isn’t even for rent in the first place.

Police say landlords should watch out for fake emails from payment apps, like PayPal, that tell you a fee is owed before you can receive the payment. The Georgetown Police Department posted a list of advice on Facebook which says:

  • Meet the property owner in person
  • Meet the property owner AT the rental property
  • Do NOT pay via an app
  • Call phone numbers on the listing
  • Insist on meeting in person
  • Avoid the immediate push for you to move in without seeing the property
  • Price is too good to be true
  • No Screening Process
  • Avoid the push to sign an incomplete lease

Real estate agents and property managers say fake listings and scams aren’t a new problem.

“It think it morphs with as we get smarter, then the people that are doing the scamming have to get smarter,” says Debbie Adams, owner of Expert Property Management.

“The story typically is they’re usually on some type of mission trip or they’re out of the country and their realtors done all this evil stuff, do not talk to them, they always say the same kind of stuff over and over,” says realtor Nick Ratliff.

Real estate agents warn if an offer seems to good to be true then it’s probably not real. They say you should research the listing and call the agency anyways as a safeguard.

“I think we’re seeing more of it right now because like the sale housing market, the rental housing market has gone up in value, has less inventory,” says Adams. “So, I think people are able to take advantage of people because they think ‘aha, I’ve found something that nobody else has found’.”

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