6 Signs to watch out for before renting temporary housing
By Nathan Guss|7 min|August 2023
Temporary rentals come with their share of pitfalls. Stay safe and avoid scams by being attentive to these six signs.
Are you looking for insights into how to find a temporary housing solution that won’t make you question your life choices? You’ve come to the right place. Short- or medium-term accommodations can be an absolute lifesaver, offering flexibility and convenience. However, it’s best to approach your search with some caution. Be on the alert for scams and health and safety issues related to substandard accommodations. Read on for six signs to look for to avoid major pitfalls.
Requests to communicate or pay off-platform
You should book through well-established, reputable rental platforms. Use their official channels for communication and payment. Engaging in off-platform communications or payments exposes you to potential scams: scammers often attempt to exploit vulnerabilities outside of the platforms’ safeguards.
Before booking, research the property and host to ensure they exist. Take time to read reviews from other guests. Look for a balance between positive and negative feedback, which suggests authenticity. If all the reviews are over-the-top, glowing praise written in the same style, alarm bells should go off. In the real world, someone always finds a nit to pick, no matter how incredible the accommodation.
Next, check the listing photos. Scammers often use stolen or generic images for the unit and their own profile picture. Cross-reference photos of the lodging and the host’s profile to confirm their legitimacy. You can use tools like Google reverse image search to see if images have been pilfered. Comparing listing photos to those available on online maps like Google Street View can also provide additional assurance. Obviously, if any photo has been taken from elsewhere, the property is a no-go.
Oddly low prices.
Be cautious of listings with exceptionally low prices, which are often a red flag for fraudulent listings. Scammers may use enticing prices to lure unsuspecting renters. Before proceeding, carefully compare the price with similar properties in the area to ensure it aligns with the market. If it doesn’t, be skeptical and extra vigilant. If it’s too good to be true, something may be amiss.
Key amenities in poor condition
While being aware of potential scams is essential, it’s equally important to focus on the unit’s condition to check for any potential issues that could impact your health or overall experience. For medium-term renters, the next step after narrowing down potential options and verifying their authenticity is to visit units of interest when possible. An on-site tour allows you to thoroughly inspect the property, ensuring it meets your specific needs and preferences. More importantly, this allows you to ensure that the property is a healthy living space. Give yourself peace of mind by assessing the unit’s condition. Checking furniture and fixtures, and test essential systems, such as faucets, heating, and air conditioning.
You should also look for mould, which can pose health risks to you and your family. Nix the rental if this might be an issue. Check for the following:
- Musty odours
- Stains on the walls, ceiling or carpets.
- Cracks or indications of water infiltration on the floors or walls
For the sake of your physical and mental well-being, you don’t want to share your space with undesirable insects or animals. Probably the most problematic are bed bugs and cockroaches, although you should also be on the lookout for mice (small, rice-shaped droppings) and ants. Be attentive to signs of these pests during the visit.
- Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by crushed bed bugs
- Dark spots on fabric (about the size of a marker tip), which are bed bug excrement
- Tiny (about 1 mm) pale yellow eggs, eggshells and shed nymph skins
- Live bed bugs themselves: Bed bugs tend to hide in various locations, particularly around beds. Check the piping, seams, and tags of the mattress and box springs, along with cracks in the bed frame and headboard. In heavily infested rooms, they may also be found in chair and couch seams, curtain folds, drawer joints, electrical receptacles, appliances, loose wallpaper, wall hangings and even small crevices, such as the meeting point between the wall and ceiling. Keep in mind that bed bugs can squeeze into extremely tight spaces, so if a crack can hold a credit card, it could potentially harbour a bed bug.
- Check floor corners, cabinet tops and underneath major appliances, such as the refrigerator and stove for cockroach droppings, which resemble coffee grounds, pepper-like specks, brown grains of rice or brown stains.
- Keep an eye out for eggs or egg casings, which are long, hollow and light brown, usually about the size of a grain of rice or an apple seed. Check areas such as the base of the refrigerator, pantry, near pipes or humid areas.
- A strong, pungent, musty, and oily smell can indicate a roach infestation.
- Seeing a cockroach is—need I say it?—a clear sign of an infestation. If you spot one, there is likely a larger population hiding nearby. Cockroaches are nocturnal, so you can try turning on the lights in the kitchen or bathroom if your visit takes place at night to observe their activity.
Are you looking for a temporary home after a home disaster?
If so, you can use the SiniSTAR platform with the serenity that comes from knowing the company has verified all listed properties. SiniSTAR is a temporary housing marketplace specifically designed for insurance housing that allows you to choose from a wide range of fully furnished, equipped temporary homes. With properties throughout Canada, you can find a comfortable housing solution in a convenient location.
Be vigilant when seeking a short- or medium-term rental. By keeping these six red flags in mind and doing some research, you can avoid scams and potential health issues. Best of luck with your search!
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