Rental markets in various countries and cities around the world have completely shut down, are on an indefinite pause or have transitioned to online platforms. Potential renters are now visiting properties by way of virtual open houses and rental agreements are being signed without the parties sitting down face-to-face. While certain elements of this new digital rental market are expected to be adopted only temporarily, other practices will probably be permanent. For people looking to rent, these new changes are making it hard to tell the listings that are legit from the ones being headed by scammers.

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No Property Tours Means No Immediate Confirmation of Ownership

In the not so distant past, an interested potential renter could simply request to see a property in person before any money exchanged hands. Either the landlord, management company, or the real estate agent representing the landlord would meet the interested renter and all questions could be solved with a simple conversation. Today, this is all but impossible in most locales. Renters now have to do lots of research and confirm that the properties they’re interested in are actually for rent.

Checking to See if a Property is Currently Occupied

Another problem that some renters are facing is not being able to take possession because the unit is still occupied. As of now, there is little that landlords can do to get holdover tenants to vacate their units. So, you can sign a lease, pay the deposit, and even get the keys just to learn that you won’t be able to move in on time. Property and people records searches are very helpful in learning whether or not an apartment or house is currently occupied. It is just a safer bet for prospective renters to go for rental units that don’t currently have a tenant residing in them.

Court Records Not Being Updated Quickly

Renters, in particular, are being asked to take a lot of risks in the current property market. If being asked to sign a lease sight unseen wasn’t enough, they are also being asked to do so without having access to the most up to date records. As courts across the United States and the world have been effectively shut down, filings for eviction and civil lawsuits are not being updated online. This means that a prospective tenant won’t really know why a new listing became available in many instances. By checking locate people public records, prospective tenants can learn more about former tenants, properties, and landlords. In a few minutes, you can find out if all the facts presented check out and decide whether or not to sign a lease.

Real estate prices are down and lots of people are out of work, so prospective renters have more room to negotiate the best terms. At the same time, renters looking to sign new leases are also at a disadvantage. There are fewer units to rent, and deals can sometimes take weeks to complete. Even still, renters have a lot of tools that can be used to ensure that their interests are protected.