The population in Southwest Florida continues to grow, as does the rental market. Southwest Florida appears to be in high demand and, as a result, prices for rental properties have risen considerably.
Out-of-state residents search the internet for affordable housing in our region and a sizeable number of Lee County residents appear to be searching for more affordable rental options.
Finding affordable housing is often a difficult task…and the scammers know it.
Of late, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office East District has received a number of complaints regarding rental scams.
When searching for rental properties, be alert to ads listing a price significantly lower than that of similar properties.
Renters should not sign any document prior to inspecting the property…both inside and out. Renters have been scammed when attempting to rent properties that don’t exist or are not for rent.
Verify ownership using the Lee County Property Appraiser’s website (leepa.org) and ensure that you are dealing with the owner or an authorized representative.
Never wire money as a deposit or payment for the first and last month’s rent…especially without a signed and verified lease. Requests to wire money overseas or to send gift cards as a form of deposit should never be considered.
Additionally, don’t allow your online property search to result in identity theft. Do not share your personal information without verifying the identity of the party that you are dealing with. Be careful. Hackers can easily change the contact information in an existing online ad…making it seem reputable.
The FTC has a very helpful hotline…1-877-FTC-HELP. Don’t hesitate to use it when concerned or scammed