NYC’s apartments are so scarce there’s fierce competition to get one either as a short term stay or a long term lease. That competition creates the kind of fevered activity that gives scammers an edge, so here’s the necessary information on how to avoid a scam.
IF YOU ARE AFTER A LONG TERM LEASE:
-Always insist on meeting the landlord or agent in person at the property. If you can take a friend with you. See the video, it has good advice.
-Apply a common sense rule: if the rent asked is remarkably cheap, it’s almost definitely a scam.
-Before going to visit a property go to Building Violations and check any violations at the address and google the landlord/owner to see if there
have been complaints.
-Do not fill out an application until you have physically set foot in the apartment and verified it’s existence. In other words do not provide any personal details until you know it is all
-Do not pay any money at all without having a valid lease and never wire money via western union or moneycam. If you do that it is beyond your capacity to get it back if the deal goes bad.
IF YOU WANT A SHORT TERM HOLIDAY RENTAL:
-Pay attention to the rental rules in NYC. People with a valid lease or who own a property have the right to rent out a room or rooms provided they also live on the premises while you are
staying there. So if that is not the situation….beware, it is most likely an illegal rental.
-Be extremely careful about short term rentals offered on Craigslist. If you do not have someone in NYC who can physically go and check out the property and see that it is real and it conforms
to what is in the advert, forget about it. Often just the request to set a time and place for an inspection smokes out the imposters.
-Never ever pay rent in advance. If you pay the full rental via moneyorder, it is gone and there’s no way to get it back. Arrange to pay when you arrive.
-Using Airbnb provides some guarantees. Customer feedback gives some certainty and accommodation rented via their website is covered by airbnb if you are scammed. But note that anyone on Airbnb
who is offering you accommodation on your own in their apartment is currently breaking the law in NYC and be very wary.
-Always check a property on google earth to see that the address given conforms to what you have been told to expect.
-Be realistic in what you expect. NYC apartments are very small by the standards of most countries but is the result of lots of people living in a small space.