My girlfriend [ls] works at a hostel in town, so she meets a lot of people who are first moving to Vancouver and looking for places to rent. It’s a hard thing to do, finding a rental in this city, with rents getting out of hand across the lower mainland this is not a renters’ market. Even if you don’t have a good chunk of money stolen from you it’s a troubling and often perverse situation
Craigslist [cl] is a useful tool for home hunters, but it’s also a tool for con artists who have been renting properties that either don’t exist or aren’t for rent. After collecting as much money as they can, usually the first month’s rent and security deposit, they vanish for a bit and then post a new ad for a new property. The annominity of Craigslist lets them post multiple listings, with no way to track them.
You’ve probably heard a version of this story, especially if you’ve been hunting for a place to live and the CBC recently picked it up [cbc]. The trouble is that in this market it has become increasingly common to pay for a rental sight unseen, and though the police are advising against it if you’ve been looking for a place to rent for awhile sometimes it can feel like you don’t have much choice. I’ve known people who have gone to view a property and been told that it’s already rented because someone showed up twenty minutes before them with a security deposit, first and last months’ rent all in cash.
Things to look for when renting through Craigslist:
– owners are out of the country and can not show the property: Being prepared with a deposit and rent when you go to look at the place is smart, but paying money to someone who is unable to show you the place is looking for trouble.
– the deal that’s too good to be true: Vancouver is expensive. If you see a rental posted that’s quite a bit cheaper than anything else be suspicious. That’s not to say that there aren’t deals out there, but be wary.
– make sure the address exists: it’s not impossible to fake a rental with a real address but if you can’t be bothered to see if there’s actually an apartment building where you’re going to be renting then maybe you deserve to be stolen from