Prospective tenants warned of online housing scams in Metro Vancouver

Coquitlam Constables are warning of an increase in scams involving potential tenants looking for accommodation.

In all cases, the victims found the ad on an online marketplace.

The RCMP say they have received several reports of housing market fraud in recent months – and in one case, someone only found out about it the day they were due to move into a new place.

“In one situation, the victim contacted the person who posted the ad and sent a deposit and half a month’s rent via wire transfer without ever seeing the rental suite. When the victim showed up on the move-in date, she realized the property was not for rent and contacted the police,” the Coquitlam RCMP statement read.

In the second case, RCMP say the victim communicated with the suspect online and met the suspect outside the apparent rental suite.

The suspect made up an excuse that he couldn’t show the sequel and provided a professional-looking contract for the victim to sign.

The victim handed over money for a security deposit before realizing it was a scam and contacting the police.

“In an extremely competitive rental market, these fraudsters are taking advantage of tenants’ need to find housing,” said Corporal Paige Kuz, media relations officer for the Coquitlam RCMP. “Scammers can be very convincing, but as a renter, before money changes hands, there are some precautionary steps you can take to protect yourself from scams like this.”

A recent report from Rentals.ca says 2,500 purpose-built rentals are expected in 2022 in parts of the Lower Mainland, but that amount is “not enough to meet demand in a healthy market.”

The report predicts that the cost of renting in Metro Vancouver will continue to rise throughout the year due to a number of factors.

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