With foreclosures come rental scams

District Attorney Steve Cooley is warning Los Angeles County residents to be on the alert for home rental scams.Many houses have been vacated by homeowners facing foreclosure. Con artists are profiting from the crisis by posing as landlords and renting vacant homes to unsuspecting renters. They offer enticing properties at below-market rental rates. In reality, they are stealing your money and leaving you homeless. Beware of landlords who do not provide an office or home address and pick up the rent in person or by messenger. Avoid unusual forms of payment such as money wire transfers and cash-only deals. Beware of online rental transactions. Protect yourself. Before you rent, ask to meet the landlord at his or her office or home. Ask to see the landlord's driver's license. Visit the property in person before you rent. Talk to the neighbors about the property. Ask the landlord point-blank if the property is facing foreclosure. Put this in the rental or lease agreement. For more information or to make a complaint, contact the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs Real Estate Fraud and Information Program at (800) 973-3370. If you believe you have been a victim of rental fraud, contact your local law enforcement agency.

********** Published: March 26, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 49