Rental Scams: How to Identify and Avoid Them

Today, online fraudsters have devised ways to make fraudulent rental listings appear completely real such that even the most cautious person can fall prey and get scammed. Hence, while the internet provides broad, unrestrained access to rental listings, you must remain alert to identify legitimate rentals from fake ones.

We have listed popular rental scams and helpful tips to protect you from these tricksters.


1. Copied Rental Listings

This is by far the most common rental scam. Here, rental scammers copy legitimate listings while replacing the contact information. However, before they allow you to visit the home, they request that you pay a deposit or the first month’s rent. Therefore, it would help to watch out for listings that appeared multiple times on the same site.


2. Outrageously Cheap Price

Rental scammers also take advantage of the knowledge that renters are always on the lookout for cheap options to list properties at prices way below the market value.


They then pressure interested parties to pay an advanced deposit to secure the property. If a property is listed for a ridiculously low amount, you should be careful as you might be walking into a trap.


3. A Dubious Middleman

This method involves the scammer assuming the position of a middleman representing the property owner. They may even take you on an inspection of the said property, which may be a vacation home or something similar where the actual owner is unavailable.


Usually, they cannot offer you a complete home inspection as they don’t have access to the whole property, but they will churn out various excuses to hide this obvious red flag before urging you to pay the first months’ rent. Once you do, they will disappear without a trace.


4. Expensive Background Check Charges

Some landlords may request a fee to carry out background checks on tenants. This usually does not cost much. If a landlord requests an astronomical amount to perform a background check, it is probably a scam.


5. Requests Payment Through Foreign Wire Transfers Or Cryptocurrency

You must immediately become alert if a landlord or someone supposedly working for the property owner is hesitant about showing you the interiors of a property, instead insisting that you pay through cryptocurrency or wire transfer. These forms of payments usually cannot be traced.


Tips To Avoid Rental Scams

Research, verifying the property, and trusting your guts are crucial to avoiding rental scams. Here are other measures to ensure you don’t waste money, energy and time.

  • Check out the company or owner online to see what reviews say and steer clear if the comments are mostly negative.
  • Ensure you verify the address associated with the property. A cursory online search can show you a sample street or home view, which you must avoid if they look different from the photos accompanying the listing.
  • Ensure the listing contains complete information and is free of spelling errors. It is also a major red flag if the listing has no credible photos.
  • Ensure you tour the property and meet the landlord. Scammers often balk at giving you a guided tour of the property because they don’t have access to it.
  • Take a thorough look at the lease document to ensure it contains the pre-agreed terms before appending your signature.
  • Suggest paying through a means that can be easily traced, perhaps through checks, bank deposits, or credit/debit card transfers.


If you are on the lookout to rent apartments in Nairobi, or you know someone who is, you should read and share this post to stay abreast of popular rental scams. On the other hand, if you seek to own a house of your own, you are welcome to look through some of the best homes in Kenya on our website.


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