Be prepared – tips & resources for spotting and dealing with housing scams

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Be prepared – tips & resources for spotting and dealing with housing scams

As the housing situation worsens, reports of rental scams are on the rise. We know that as students you are among the most vulnerable groups as you navigate the competitive short-and long-term rental market.  The Community Wellness Team, in collaboration with the Engineering Community Roundtable has put together the following information.
As you likely know, housing fraud can occur in several ways, and none of us are immune. Understanding the warning signs and taking precautions when searching for housing are the best ways to avoid becoming a victim.
The following information was provided by the University of Waterloo Special Constables Service:

There are two types of fraud rental scams :


  1. Fraudulent Properties for Rent.

Scammers fraudulently advertise rentals in a preferred location. They may request the renters to answer a questionnaire asking for their personal information and banking information (potentially providing the fraudster with the ability to use the information for identify fraud). Once the offer is accepted, the renter then sends money to the scammer with first and/or last month’s rent. The victim arrives at the designated time to receive their keys and finds the address does not exist or that they have been misled.


Signs to look for:

  • Is the deal too good to be true?
  • Is the ad posted on the internet? Have you done your due diligence to verify the property exists?  Have you completed open-source searches to ensure it is not a duplicate post.
  • Is there an urgency or pressure to get the deal done quickly? 
  • Are they dodging questions? 
  • Are you asked to transfer money through the internet or wire money out of the country? 


Prevention Tips

  • Go to the address. Schedule a viewing and confirm its availability. If you can’t go yourself, ask a friend to go on your behalf.
  • Review your contract thoroughly. Do not be in a hurry or pressured.
  • Do your homework and know what a reasonable rental amount is.  
  • Complete open-source searches to verify that there are no duplicate posts and that the property exists.
  • Go with your gut instincts!    


  1. Fraudulent renters.

Fraudulent renters are scammers who claim to want to rent the apartment but actually do not intend to live there. They send a fraudulent form of overpayment and ask you to send the additional funds back to them.


Prevention Tips

·Check the facts and verify personal information.

·If the person lives out of the country and wants to rent do not provide your banking information. Have the money E-transferred to you to an email address specifically designated for such transactions and do not link to your personal email.

·Never return funds that are “overpayment”.  Suggest applying the amount to their next month’s rent.


If you encounter any of the above, we recommend you pursue other housing options. If you have been a victim of a rental scam contact the ad publisher, file a complaint with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centerand contact your local police service to make a report. 

There are several supports available to you on campus and beyond – including the following:

Victims of rental scams often feel a range of emotions from anger to betrayal. If you’ve been the victim of a rental scam Counselling Services or EmpowerMe Student Care can help you process these complex emotions.


Please look-out for one another.  If you have been a victim of housing fraud, please know we are here for you.  Please reach-out to your department student advisor or Wellness contact. They can guide you to the appropriate resources.