Scams abound, and one I just read about really hit home to me - wanted to share it here.
We have a lot of renters here in the New River Valley, particularly centered around Blacksburg (Virginia Tech) and Radford (Radford University), but in many other areas of the Valley as well. The summer is a hot season for renters, as people move in and out around the various school systems and universities. That hot rental market is also a great place for scam artists to move and "work", as evidenced by this story by Maggie Dokic in Miami FL.
I plan on sending this post to some local law enforcement to see if they have any updates they can provide on how renters can protect themselves, but Maggie makes a couple of good points.
- Check property records online to verify the person signing the lease is truly the owner, or is authorized to sign leases on behalf of the owner. Each County has its own record system, here are a few:
- Montgomery County (including Blacksburg & Christiansburg records)
- City of Radford
- Giles County
- Be sure to know exactly where the checks will be mailed, so there's a physical address to track.
- If they don't verify your credit, be very WARY! If they want first and last months rent in cash, RUN!
I'd add that working with a property manager is a must for making sure a property is above board, and I'm happy to hook you up with some of the best - just email me for a list. Most landlords in the New River Valley are above board and honest, but that's not to say there aren't unscrupulous folks out there as well. Hopefully some of these tips will help renters in the New River Valley protect themselves a little more, and not experience what this poor family in Miami is up against.
Updated July 1 11:00am - received an email from State Farm agent Eric Johnsen this morning as a follow-up to this post, wanted to share it in its entirety. He wrote: "with two large universities we do have a number of student renters. That's one of the nice things about being a landlord here, we have a large pool to advertise rental properties to. However, many students are either forced or conned into buying renters insurance. I am an insurance agent, obviously, and I have something to say about this. Some property managers require renters insurance, and if that's the case it's hard for the renter to overcome. Some insurance agents sell it, and this is where we can run into a problem with unscrupulous business practices.
If the student lives with their parents when they are NOT attending school, and the parents are homeowners, it is very unlikely that the stdent needs additional coverage. Their personal property is covered under their parents' policy, subject to the policy deductible. The liability coverage would extend from the parents' policy as well. If the student had to evacuate and live elsewhere (such as when Katrina hit New Orleans and students were scattered), the policy wouldn't extend for THAT additional living expense.
Insurance agents who are selling this policy to those students who already have coverage is a bit questionable. If that person is no longer a student, out of their own living the big life now, THEN it's time ofr renters insurance. Otherwise, as long as they fit under mom and dad's umbrella as a permanent resident of the household than they should be covered under their parents' homeowners policy."
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