Market Wise Q&A column: Is there a Safe Way to Rent a Home?

Pat Kapowich for the San Jose Mercury News

Q: Someone posing as a property owner just took my grandson for $1,800. He is too embarrassed to file a police report and just wants to rent a place and get on with his life. I’m retired and would like to help him in this endeavor both in the groundwork and finances. What is the best way to rent a property?

A: First, convince your grandson that he needs to file a police report. Too many acts of fraud go unreported. The fellow who took your grandson’s money continues to ply his trade on other hapless victims competing in a hot rental market. When real estate sales cool, the rental market heat up. Together with the World Wide Web, it’s the perfect environment for anonymous fraudsters to flourish. Criminals outside the country write many of the Internet ads for rental properties.

Secondly, you should only do business with fully disclosed licensees, leasing agents or property owners. Thirdly, before money changes hands make sure you do a walk-through of the rental property and that all the paperwork is in order. A scam artist taught your grandson a lesson. Now it’s time for his grandfather to show him how to properly conduct business.

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Please email your questions to Pat@SiliconValleyBroker.com