You may have heard about scammer stories in the news, and thought it was exclusively a 'big city' problem, but with the rental markets across Canada heating up the scams are making their way here too! Join Adrain and Carla as they share their personal experiences with con-artists in this industry and most importantly share how you can protect your rental property and tenants.
Welcome to Canada's Property Management Podcast, your number one resource for investing, managing, and maximizing the value of your real estate assets. And now here's your hosts, Carla Browne and Adrian Schulz, Canada's rental property experts.
Carla Browne (00:19):
I'm focused. I'm here. I'm present. I am present with you.
Adrian Schulz (00:24):
I am here too. I am present too. And today, we're talking about scammers and I was thinking posers and scammers or just scammers, because yesterday at dinner, we always seem to get calls from all over the country, and with my personality, it's not hard to believe that I don't have that many friends. So we're always curious, who could be calling at dinner time? And it's almost always a telephone scammer. But scammers exist in real estate and in property management as well. And I know, Carla, you actually have some firsthand experience of what's happening and how to prevent it.
Carla Browne (01:05):
Yeah. So scammers have been in the rental market since I've been in the rental market. Things have been popping up and people read things in the news and they think that they only happen in the bigger centers. They happen in the smaller centers, too. And in fact, I think the smaller centers, when markets heat up, are potential for the scammers to land there, even outside. Because sometimes, we're more leery in a bigger city, but sometimes small town folk in areas, I'm calling Winnipeg, where you are, in Saskatoon, where I am, both smaller town folk, we're a little bit more trusting by nature, and trust in what people are saying. And people need to understand, there's a few things in property management that legit people will never do, and one of them is to ask for money before you ever see a property.
If they're asking for bank account information, e-transfer to somewhere, and you haven't actually met, signed lease documents that tell you what you are supposed to be giving, then you potentially are dealing with a scammer and you need to beware. So I'm going to tell the two stories that came up literally last week, which why I thought it was so important to bring this topic back up is that we have property that's being rented. It's a couple that's relocating. So they are relocating for a period of time and now want to rent their property. This is not a regular investment property. And husband is now away at new job, wife and kids are at home alone. And two, what she called suspicious people show up at their door wanting to view the property. And she right away thinks my property is for rent with a property management company.
They must have sent them, because they said that the property manager sent us to go view the property. We wouldn't do that, right? We wouldn't do that. So luckily, she realized that's probably not how this is going to roll out, without us contacting her first, and she contacted me. But she was really scared and nervous and they showed her, on their phone, a copy of the ad. It was our pictures from our advertising, her address, not our price, a ridiculously low price, and a deposit which was not what would be normal in the marketplace. So in this case, this property is listed at just about $3,000 a month. They had it listed for $2,000 a month with $1,000 deposit. So didn't add up, right? So sometimes, I guess, like the saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
And that's what happened. These people jumped on it, on this property, and then went there. So I felt so bad for her. So in turn, we've contacted the police. This individual that sent them there was on Facebook. I tried to reach out, but I guess he figured out who I was pretty quickly, and he messaged back and forth and now he's blocked me. And Facebook won't do anything, because there's no activity on his page that looks suspicious, because he is doing it outside of his page. He's getting their information and then texting them. So he's no dummy.
Adrian Schulz (04:13):
It reminds me of the importance and the benefit of both when you're a tenant or renting from a licensed property management company, they're licensed, we're licensed for a reason. And of course, from an investor's perspective or a rental owner perspective, again, making sure that you're working with a licensed property manager. And those two, the tenant working with a licensed property manager and the investor working with a licensed property manager, are what make for a sincere and legitimate relationship. Not saying that you can't rent from someone privately, but as we've now seen, the risks could be higher.
Carla Browne (04:57):
Yeah. So in the provinces of specifically BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, it's really easy to go to the regulator's website. They have a spot there for public protection where you can do a public inquiry and search a company and an individual's name and see if they are, in fact, licensed. There are many provinces in Canada where there's not required to have a license, but I would say check the people out. If they say that they're with a company, then get on the website, Google them, call what's on the website, verify that they're a representative. If they are someone within the real property management system, you can simply go to realpm.ca, find the office that they said that they're from, and then contact that way, or contact our home office, which is the numbers listed on that website in the top right-hand corner, and we can verify for you.
So it's something that I think we just take too lightly, that someone's renting their house, we're just going to go see it, and that's it. So scenario number two that came up last week. We had an individual contact us, just livid that we had just stolen $900 from him. And so staff members trying to calm him down and listen to everything what happened. What happened in this case is that he needed to move into some place quite quickly, and that's where scammers will also prey, on those who are needing something right away, right? Time is of the essence, and they love that. So this person needed a place right away. The individual said, "I've been getting a lot of demand on this place. If you want it, you're going to have to fill out this form and send me your banking information, and then also send an e-transfer for the deposit, and then I'll hold it for you." Wrong, wrong, wrong.
So he did. He filled out the information, he sent the e-transfer, gave this individual now his banking information as well, and then low and behold, they didn't show up to give him the keys or send him the package. I think they were sending him a package with the keys and all the other documents. And I got the screenshots. It looks very legit. They used our company name, which is super fun, because now we really had to talk this person through that we wouldn't do this. And again, back to the police to try to report it.
And to be honest, the police, they have bigger fish to fry. So they're only dealing with this if they have some time to deal with it. Other things are taking precedent, and that's just the reality. And the regulators often don't do a lot about it, because regulators are there to protect the public from their registrants. You're dealing with unregistered people. So again, it's normally a resource and time issue that the regulators don't have time to deal with it, and then this poor individual is now out, no place to live, and out $900, probably all they had in order to get into a rental property. I mean, lucky for us, we're trying to convert both scenarios, but the reality is both sets of people were not happy, and our name was brought into it, so.
Adrian Schulz (07:58):
What's the biggest takeaway from those two incidents that occurred just last week in your local market?
Carla Browne (08:04):
Verify. And like I said, never give money. So we started posting on our social media, I think every other day we've got something going up now. Never give money to a property management company or to an individual unless you have been in the property and you have signed documentation that you are actually in a lease agreement. If they want you to enter into an agreement and you put everything in writing, because that's what holds up, when you go to the police station. I have this document, right, that somebody's actually signed, and I've given money. And we would never ask for money. There's not a real property management office across Canada that will ask for money until you have seen a property and you have a lease agreement in hand. It does not make sense. I mean, regulated companies can't do it. And those that aren't regulated won't be doing it either, from a professional standpoint.
Adrian Schulz (08:57):
So even those scammers are out there. This is Real Property Management.
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