Finding an apartment is hard enough as it, is but unfortunately for many prospective renters, fraudsters have found a way to take advantage of Montreal's competitive rental market.
According to CBC News, there has been a huge spike in fraudulent online rental advertisements in recent years. Scam ads have been popping up on apartment hunting websites such as Kanglou, which is extremely problematic for a city like Montreal.
Vacancy rates in 2018, for example, were less than 2%. Montreal is a renter's city, with high demand and low supply for quality apartments. People who are desperate to find a place to live are especially susceptible to these kinds of scams.
According to the report, a local Montreal woman encountered two hopeful renters who showed up unannounced at her Rosemont condo. They were lured by a fake ad which required them to pay a deposit in advance.
Many of these fake ads, in fact, will demand prospective renters to pay a deposit up-front before even viewing the apartment. Experts warn that these ads keep popping up at an alarming rate.
According to data from the Rental Housing Index, Montreal has over 500,000 rental units. With many of those apartments and rooms posted on online rental websites, the potential for a scam is quite high.
Experts claim that scam ads have more than doubled in recent years and that renters in Montreal should be on alert for any potential scams. Websites are taking steps to improve their security against fraudulent ads.
Many people agree that due to Montreal's rental crisis, scammers are targeting the most trafficked websites to take advantage of a potentially desperate situation.
Scammers don't exclusively post fraudulent ads, though. Occasionally, fraudsters will actually show up and steal your money from under your nose. This is precisely what happened to a few St-Henri residents in 2016.
Experts say it's difficult to detect these types of scams, but websites are trying out new security measures.
If you're looking for an apartment in Montreal, be extra careful about the ads you're responding to. Remember, it's against the law for anyone to ask for a deposit before a lease is signed.
And if your gut is telling you it's too good to be true... listen.
To know more about your tenants' rights in Montreal, please read this article.