Vancouver’s hot rental market is helping boost up another new industry: scammers.
At least that’s what one local man is warning, after being pitched a bogus suite in Port Coquitlam.
Beric Mass says he and is wife are under the gun to find a new place, after their townhouse was sold out from under them.
They found a fantastic looking suite online, at a very reasonable price.
In emails, the “landlord” told them he was now working in the UK, and looking for long term tenants. But because he was overseas, he wanted to use a property management company to handle all of the details.
Mass says red flags went up when those “details” included coughing up cash before even seeing the inside of the unit.
“In order to actually view the apartment, you first needed to submit $1,300 to the property management company. But, he says, no worries, they can’t release the funds to him without our approval.”
According to the “landlord” the money would be held in trust while a key was couriered to them… if they didn’t like the place, the cash would be returned.
Maass says he was suspicious, but googled the property company, Prime Location, which seemed legitimate.
“It could very well have been legitimate, because I’ve never been exposed to property management… and perhaps this is how things might be done.”
But Maass balked at turning over cash before keys, and rightly so. When contacted, Prime Location representative Stefanie Midmer said the company had nothing to do with the deal.
“I think there must be a mix-up here as Prime Location is not an agent – it’s a property portal where agents advertise their flats/houses up for sale or for rent, so we don’t have any access to properties directly… Whilst we do have overseas properties on our portal, we operate only out of the UK.”
Leaving Maass feeling like he’d dodged a bullet.
His advice for other house hunters? Even if you’re under pressure to find a place quickly, don’t bite if it looks too good to be true.
“Don’t do anything sight unseen. Don’t turn over money to people that you haven’t met personally for properties that you haven’t seen in person. It’s back to oldschool.”
CKNW contacted the Port Coquitlam RCMP to enquire if there had been similar complaints, but has yet to receive a reply.