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Housing & Conference Services

Living At McMaster

Housing Scams

McMaster does not screen the landlords or the properties, so it is your responsibility to look carefully at the place you will be renting, and who you are renting from. While instances of online fraud may be rare, it is always important to be attentive when searching for housing accommodations.

Here are a few potential scenarios for students to be cautious of:

  • The Landlord states that they have another renter who is willing to give more money than originally requested, and to secure the property the student must wire transfer money immediately.
  • A security deposit or first month’s rent is requested first, before the student can ‘view‘ the property.
  • The landlord states an ‘agent/agency’ will show the property and deliver the keys. If the property is privately owned and not operated by a property management company, confirm that the agent represents a reputable leasing company first – do a simple Google search of the person’s name and/or phone number.
  • The landlord is out-of-country and unable to show the property personally.
  • The landlord asks a student to ‘wire’ money.
  • The landlord requests that a lease be filled out prior to viewing the property.

Tip for Avoiding Scams

  • Never give out personal financial information – Keep your personal financial information (checking account number, Social Insurance Number, Passport Number, credit card number, etc.) safe and secure.
  • Be wary and practice good judgement – Don’t let your guard down when looking for an apartment. If something feels wrong with the situation, it may be wise not to pursue it.
  • When in doubt, always personally view the property – Often individuals who are attempting to scam students request a deposit before the potential tenant has had a chance to preview the rental property. Never provide funds or sign a lease prior to viewing the property and meeting the landlord.
  • Never wire transfer funds to anyone claiming to be a landlord
  • Be cautious – If you receive photos or detailed information from a landlord without requesting it, be mindful that this is typical scammer behaviour.