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As a Cambridge real estate agent, the city squares of Cambridge, Somerville and Medford and the town centers of Arlington, Watertown and Belmont, Massachusetts are my home turf. And as a lifelong New Englander who’s lived within twenty miles of Boston most of my life, I can introduce you to other nearby towns as we search for your new home. If you’re planning to sell your home in Cambridge, MA or nearby you’ll find plenty of info about the home selling process here too. Questions? Send me an email or call me at 617-504-1737.

Rental Scams – If It’s It To Good To Be True

Beware of Rental Scams

Beware of Rental Scams

The Boston Globe reported recently about the Cambridge Police Department’s warning about rental scams on websites like CraigsList and Zillow.  I’ve received calls myself from people asking for info or advice after becoming suspicious about a to good to be true rental.

It’s the height of the rental season right now in Cambridge and the Cambridge police have noticed a corresponding uptick in reports of rental scams.  Scammers advertise apartments online that they have no real connection with – often using photographs they find on real estate websites.  Typically the ads promise rents that are well below market rents in Cambridge.

The prospective tenant is encouraged to send the supposed subletting tenant or landlord money – by check or wire.  When the unsuspecting tenant arrives in Cambridge they discover there’s no apartment for rent and their money is gone.

What’s an apartment hunter to do – especially when trying to find a Cambridge apartment from afar?

Probably your best bet is to enlist the help of a Cambridge rental agent.  He or she will be able to match your needs and wish list to the best available rentals.  Renting an apartment when you’re not here to look for one is not easy – getting an experienced agent to help you will make your search much easier.

But if you’re winging it and hoping to secure a rental on your own do keep in mind that if it sounds too good to be true – it is.  Landlords or tenants subletting their apartment do NOT offer absurdly low rents out of the goodness of their hearts (ok – maybe somewhere out there there are some rentals where altruism rules – but better to assume that’s not the case).

Here’s a rough idea of what realistic – i.e. real – rents are like in Cambridge:

It’s difficult to find an apartment – any apartment – for less than $1200 per month in Cambridge. If you’re close to the T, in one of the popular squares like Porter Square, Harvard Square, or Central Square, then $1200 is going to get you a basement apartment – probably a studio or one-bedroom apartment – at best.  Typically, Cambridge two-bedroom apartments rent for $1500 and up with higher rents closer to the T and to the squares.  Again – if the ad says the apartment is close to Harvard Square you can expect to pay top dollar. There are no bargain apartments near Harvard – or if one pops up, it will last a day before it’s rented.  The landlord will not need to jump through hoops with checks in the mail, wire transfers, etc.  He’ll have would-be tenants waving applications at him right off the bat.

So – remember – if it sounds too good to be true – DO NOT SEND MONEY!

Categories: Everything Else

  1. Charles J. Sillari, Jr.

    You really have to be careful out there. After a while it’s pretty easy to weed them out.

  2. D'Ann Bartley, REALTOR®

    Same problem in California; Craig’s List is a hotbed of rental scams! Almost every listed property ends up there as a “rental” in the first few days of coming on the market. At least CL is pretty good about removing the fraudulent listings when notified, but how do we get rid of the scam artists??

  3. Elizabeth Bolton

    My own rental listing was just used as part of a scam. One of the prospective tenants emailed me to let me know that my title and text were posted verbatim with photos of another place – and I imagine different contact info. It had already been removed when I went to look at it. I was floored by how many obviously fraudulent listings I found when I started looking through the listings.

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