A local realtor is sounding the alarm about rental fraud in Peterborough.
Stanley Hammond says a would-be renter from the Durham area reached out to ask about the condition of a south-end home that was listed for rent on Craigslist after she noticed his sales sign in a photo. That’s when Hammond realized someone was trying to rent his client’s home illegally.
“They’ve taken our photos, they used them and posted them and they say the house is for rent,” said Hammond in disbelief. “They are taking people’s deposit and of course, they are not fulfilling that and sadly, now that the house has sold, the folks that are doing this are saying they are the new owner.”
Hammond has been working as a realtor for 35 years and felt compelled to share the story because he says this kind of fraud is becoming too common.
The vacancy rate in Peterborough is dangerously low, at 1.1 per cent. It has reached a crisis point.
Hammond said it’s desperate times for would-be renters and fraud cases like this could catch people in a vulnerable position.
“What the people preying on them are doing is they are offering the house, a nice clean home for an unreasonable rental,” he said. “Really it’s cheaper than it should be. This is what’s motivating the people and they are trying to lock it up by sending them the deposit money.”
CHEX News responded to the post for the home on Craigslist and received an email stating the homeowner is a pastor and he and his wife had just moved from the home in Peterborough to do work in the U.S., and they are looking for someone to take good care of their home.
An application form was sent, looking for a security deposit to secure the home.
The rent, in this case, is well below the market value and Peterborough police Det. Keith Calderwood said would-be renters need to be aware of these scams and do their homework before wiring money to someone they’ve interacted with online.
Calderwood said that with this kind of information, a thief can easily access your bank accounts, and when renting a home, it’s buyer-beware — especially with online transactions.