Apartment rental fraud

29 march 2018

Montreal, March 29, 2018 – March is Fraud Prevention Month. March is also when many people start looking for an apartment. Some wrongdoers use this opportunity to scam future tenants, posting ads for apartments available for rent they do not own or simply do not exist. The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) is therefore raising the public's awareness of this type of scam.

In 2017, 67 apartment rental fraud cases were reported to the SPVM. On average, the scammers required that their victims provide one or two months' rent as a deposit, ranging from $500 to $1,200 depending on the apartment.

There are various scenarios used by the scammers, but the following are the most common ones:

  • A landlord needs to rent his apartment quickly at a good price not to lose any money. Because he is abroad at the time of the rental, he asks that a security deposit be sent to him via e-transfer.
  • The landlord does not want to waste his time and asks for an e-transfer deposit before the visit of the premises.

No matter the pretence, money is always requested. When they agree to pay the requested sum, tenants could be facing a potential scam. Although well-meaning owners may ask for a security deposit that is reimbursable on signing the lease, the Régie du logement is very clear on this matter: “A landlord cannot ask for a deposit, whether it is for the keys or for furniture.

Clues and prevention

  • The address of the apartment for rent should appear in the ad.
  • Tenants should be reachable by phone and not only by email.
  • When looking up the address of an apartment for rent, you can see if others have been victims of fraud.
  • When doing an image search of the pictures featured in an ad, you can see whether these pictures have already been posted on other sites. Scammers sometimes use pictures from other ads. Pictures that look too professional could be indicative of fraud.
  • Visit the apartment before signing the lease.
  • Vigilance: E-transfers can now be deposited without giving the answer to the security question.
  • Meeting the neighbours can be a good way to confirm whether the apartment is truly for rent and the landlord really is who he claims to be.
  • If an ad looks too good to be true, it's probably a scam.

Good to know

Classified sites post tips for preventing fraud and provide information on how to report wrongdoers using their platform.

Anyone who may have been a victim of fraud is asked to go to their neighbourhood police station or to call 911 to file an official complaint.

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Useful links

Régie du logement du Québec

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre


Media Relations Section
Communications Department
Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM)