Safety Tips for Renters

Nipissing Safe App

Rental Fraud Prevention Tips

Rental fraud can happen anywhere to anyone. Being diligent is key to help in avoiding scams and fraud. There are two common types of rental fraud that affect both students and landlords: fraudulent rental properties and fraudulent renters looking for places to rent. Provided below is some information to help students identify aspects of rental fraud and precautions that should be taken to avoid becoming a victim.

Fraudulent Rental Properties

Fraudulent rental properties (including rooms or apartments for rent) tend to occur in locations that are considered ideal for the post-secondary student population, but also affect prime or desirable rental locations within a city and tend to target renters that are from outside the city.

People that are advertising these properties will usually find a way to ask for personal or banking information that looks innocent at first. You should always be cautious when giving out any personal or banking information and it can be used for identity fraud. After agreeing to rent, the people offering that space will ask for rent money (usually first and last) prior to your arrival and tend not to offer viewing of the space or will find excuses of why this is not possible. Upon your arrival you will learn that this space either doesn’t exist or was never available for rent in the first place.

Tips to consider

  • Research the property or physically go to the address provided to verify it exists
  • Schedule a viewing of the space and always read through any contract thoroughly before signing
  • If the people renting the space are rushing or pressuring you to sign a contract or send money quickly, this is usually a sign of a scam
  • If the people renting the space are not answering your questions or not allowing you to view the space first, this is usually a sign of a scam
  • Trust your instincts. If something feels off about your interactions, then it is probably a good idea to look at a different property

Fraudulent Renters

Fraudulent renters are people who are claiming to look for a place to rent but in the end have no intentions of living in that rental space. It is often seen that these people will send fraudulent payments, often overpayments, which they will then ask for the over paid money to be sent back to them. This also may seem innocent but can cause issues when banking information can be exchanged.

Tips to consider

  • Check the information that renters are providing you and verify any personal information
  • If you are speaking with someone from out of the country, do not provide them with your personal banking information. Consider setting up an email for EMT for this type of transaction
  • Only accept checks/deposits if the amount on them is the exact amount agreed upon; no more, no less. If an overpayment is accepted do not refund overpayments and suggest that the extra money be used for the next month’s rent
  • Ask that the renter communicate with you through their official post-secondary institution student email
  • When in doubt, you can ask the student for a ‘Proof of Enrolment’ letter, that they will be able to receive from Nipissing University or Canadore College. However, it is important to remember that students must be enrolled in courses in order to have access to their ‘Proof of Enrolment’ letter. Sometimes international students will not enroll in courses until they come to campus in order to receive assistance with the process. If this is the case, they should have received a letter of acceptance to their program at their institution and you can ask for proof of that
  • If you think you are being contacted by a scammer the best thing to do is to not respond and block them from contacting you any further
  • If you don’t feel comfortable about an email or phone call you receive from a potential tenant, you do not need to continue contact with them

Additional Resources

If you happen to become a victim of fraud, don’t be embarrassed. File a complaint with the Canadian Anti-Froud Centre: http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm

More Tips for Student Renters

  • Whenever possible do not provide rent payments in cash or other hard to trace services. Use bank cheques, money orders or email money transfers, but only if you are certain of the legitimacy of the rental, landlord and agreement that you are signing.
    • Landlords are not allowed legally to ask for application fees, holding fees, damage or cleaning fees or deposits, security deposits, etc.
    • Landlords are legally allowed collect a rent deposit if it is requested on or before the date that the landlord and tenant enter into a tenancy agreement. The rent deposit cannot be greater than one month’s rent, or the rent for one rental period, whichever is less.
    • Once rent money has been paid always ask for a rent receipt. Landlords are legally required to provide tenants with rent receipts for income purposes.
  • Do not enter a tenancy sign-unseen or without meeting the landlord in person first.
  • Do not provide any personal identification information that could lead to identity theft, like your banking information or Social Insurance Number.
  • Do your research
    • Speak with current tenants
    • Conduct internet searches of the rental address provided and known information of the landlord
  • Double check rentals that are too good to be true
    • This could be the location, amenities, and most often the rental cost for the current market
  • Note if the landlord asks to little or to much
    • Too little could mean that they are fraudulent as most legitimate landlords will ask information for references or a credit check
    • Too much could be them trying to pressure you into renting their space
  • Make sure that the landlord uses the Ontario Standard Lease Form
    • As of April 30, 2018, most private market rentals are required to use this created standard form (lease) when entering into a tenancy agreement. Both the tenant and the landlord must sign the lease at least by the date the tenant is scheduled to move into the rental unit.
    • The landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the lease within 21 days after the tenant signs it and gives it to the landlord.

Fire Prevention and Safety

Being fire aware is very important when you are looking for a rental property and making sure you are aware of them prior to viewing listings will help you to know what to ask and look for. Check out our our Safety Tips below and the 'Searching Tips and Checklists"' section to find what your should be looking for in a safe rental and some suggestions on questions that you should be asking landlords.

We are working with the North Bay Fire and Emergency Services to help ensure the fire safety of our students. North Bay Fire and Emergency Services provides fire protection services through a range of programs designed to protect the lives and property from the fires, sudden medical emergencies, or exposure to dangerous conditions. Visit their website to find more information on the list below and more:

  • Safety videos
  • Fire Safety Legislation
  • Fire Inspections
  • Fire Safety Plans
  • Barbecue Safety

"See It Before You Sign It" - Before a lease gets signed make sure the rental property is fire safe first (Video).

North Bay Safe Student Housing Fire Safety Checklist

Make Your Place Fire-Safe - Home self inspection checklist

Accommodation Guide for Students - A guide to finding fire-safe accommodation for students

Home Fire Safety Checklist

Protecting Yourself and Your Property

Living in North Bay, as in any large urban area, requires taking adequate safety precautions. Be observant at all times. Anticipation is a major factor in preventing crimes.

  • If someone knocks on your door, identify the person before you open the door.
  • At all times require service personnel to provide identification and authorization from your landlord before letting them into your room or apartment.
  • When traveling at night, try to arrange to go with one or more friends.
  • If walking, stay in well-lit, heavily traveled areas. Walk with confidence to convey that you are aware and in control.
  • If you think someone is following you, switch direction or cross the street. If the follower persists, call the police immediately, and try to find a lighted store or home to ensure safety.
  • Always have your keys in hand when you approach your house or apartment. Fumbling in your purse or pockets for a key can distract you and put you off guard.
  • If you have to use a public laundry facility, try to always go with a friend.
  • Make sure that your door has a deadbolt lock and keep it locked at all times.
  • Check all windows to see if they are secure and have adequate locks. Provide coverings for your windows and pull the shades or close the drapes at night.
  • Never leave an extra key outside for any reason; leave one with a friend nearby instead.

Mobile Safety App

'Nipissing Safe' or 'Canadore Safe' are mobile apps that you can download to your phone that offers users virtual walk home features and an emergency notification system to increase safety on and off campus.

 

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