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Coming to a new land can be exciting. There can also be dangers. So be happy, be positive but always be careful.
For example, be aware there are lots of “rental scams” happening in Ontario.
This has nothing to do with real landlords, but people who act as the landlord when they aren’t!
According to CBC news an international student at the University of Waterloo in Ontario says she was eager to settle into new housing ahead of the fall semester, but was stripped of her savings and is fighting poor mental health after falling victim to a rental scam.
The victim is Armina Soleymani who moved from Iran to Ontario 3 years ago to get her Doctorate degree.
“Before, I had one problem: Finding a place. But now, I have two problems: Finding a place and getting my money back … I can’t focus on my studies.”
Soleymani’s experience comes following a slew of warnings by the Waterloo Regional Police Service, and as officers confirm they’re probing multiple reports of rental fraud in the university area this month.
Soleymani said she began searching for a new rental unit near the university about two months ago in order to secure a place before her current lease expires Aug. 31.
HOW THE RENTAL SCAM WORKS
Earlier this month, she found an online listing from someone calling themself a tenant through a Facebook group that’s popular among students. The woman said she wanted to sublet a unit at a building on Columbia Street West in Waterloo. Soleymani arranged an in-person appointment to meet with the woman on Aug. 6.
Soleymani said the woman, who claimed she was a student, gave her a tour of the furnished unit, and then they signed a lease agreement.
She said the woman requested that Soleymani pay $2,000 in cash to cover first and last month’s rent and a key deposit.
“I got suspicious and asked her for her ID,” said Soleymani. “I asked her to come down in front of the building’s main entrance door where there were two security cameras and I paid her.”
Soleymani said the woman gave her a key, which turned out to be fake, and was told it would work on the move-in day, so there was no opportunity to try it out beforehand to see if it would gain her access to the building.
Soleymani also said she kept in touch with the woman through Facebook, but after a few days, she noticed the woman’s Facebook page had been deleted. When Soleymani went to check on the unit, she happened upon a building manager, who advised her she had been scammed by the woman and there were other victims.
From what Soleymani understands, the woman didn’t actually live there. She also understands, based on what the building manager told her, that the woman had been subletting the unit herself from another person who was subletting it.
Soleymani said she believes scammers go out of their way to target international students or those scrambling to find a place weeks before school.
“During this time, students are desperate, they just want to find a place,” she said. “I think right now I realize several [red] flags, but I was under the pressure of finding a place. When your priority is to protect yourself from being homeless, you can’t focus on other things.
“There are lots of international students … that are looking for a place with no success … We have no choice other than to trust people and I know for many other students who come from overseas, there’s no choice but using online applications,” she added, noting language barriers also make the process more challenging.
Soleymani said the situation has impacted her mental health, and left her unable to focus on her studies and research. She hopes her story will raise awareness and help others.
“I just want to warn the other students. I don’t want anyone to experience the same situation.”
How You Can Protect Yourself and Your Money!
According to the University of Toronto you can protect yourself in the following ways
Never deal in cash.
Never rent sight-unseen.
Don’t provide confidential info that can be used for identity theft.
Meet the landlord in person.
Speak with the current tenants.
Conduct basic research.
Be aware of too-good-to-be-true rent rates.
Be wary of high-pressure sales tactics.
Be wary of landlords who request little info about you.
Demand a written lease.
Ensure the written lease identifies the owner or management company.
Consider renting from property management companies.
Read more at
https://ontariolandlords.org/blog/inter ... tal-scams/
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