Be aware that rental scams exist. While Craigslist is a widely accepted way to find rentals it may be safer to go with a real estate agent. It's a good idea to view a property in person and meet the landlord or their agent before sending over any monies. Below is a typical situation that illustrates a possible scam. Please be safe and smart out there.
Recognizing the hallmarks of an online rental scam
My boyfriend and I have been saving up to move into a place of our own, but we are having difficulty contacting our new landlord.
We found an apartment listed on Craigslist and sent an email indicating our interest. The landlord responded by telephone and told us that, although he was out of town on business, we were free to stop by and take a look at the apartment. We drove by, decided we loved the place and called him to let him know we wanted to be his tenants.
His attorney shortly thereafter sent us a one-year lease agreement. We signed the lease and paid him first and last month's rent, using an online cash card because the landlord was out of town and he had indicated that an immediate move-in required prompt payment.
Now we are receiving calls from the landlord's attorney saying that we must send additional money as a security deposit before they will transfer the keys to us. Should we send the deposit even though we don't think the lease requires it?