rental scam toronto

Toronto rental scams are totally out of control and here's what you need to know

Toronto rental prices have blown through the roof, and life in Canada's largest city isn't getting any cheaper amid a historic bout of inflation and heavy competition among prospective renters.

Soaring demand and high costs have created the perfect ecosystem for rental scammers looking to take advantage of naive renters trying to navigate a booming market.

Rental platform liv.rent cites a 47 per cent increase in rental activity in June 2022, a boom accompanied by an almost tripling in reports of suspicious listings flagged by users.

There are some important red flags to keep an eye out for when looking through rental listings. Listings that stress a sense of urgency and seem to be in a hurry to secure your deposit always deserve extra scrutiny, along with things like blurry photos and obscured address details.

A press release issued by liv.rent warns that "opportunistic scammers are more prevalent now than ever, costing Canadian renters 12.3 million dollars through merchandise scams—which include rental scams—in 2021, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre."

One renter using the platform, John Harding, says that "scams and fraud are my biggest fear when renting in Canada." Though he hasn't personally fallen victim to one of these scams, Harding has "have heard stories from friends where they sent a security deposit for nothing."

Toronto has been a hotspot for these scams, with a notable uptick since the first lockdowns hit in 2020.

Notable rental fraud cases have occurred at the notorious ICE Condos in multiple instances involving fake rental agents touring prospective renters around the complex, signing deposits, then disappearing with the money.

In one particularly brazen case of fraud, CTV News reported on several tenants submitting cash deposits to a fake landlord, only realizing they'd been scammed when the real homeowner kicked them out the next day.

Rental scams can get particularly ugly this time of year, as the boom of students returning for the upcoming fall semester puts even more strain on the already tight supply of rental housing in Toronto. It also has the potential to leave students in the lurch in an unfamiliar city.

Tens of thousands of the 432,000 new permanent Canadian residents expected by year-end are likely to settle in Toronto, adding even more competition, and a new pool of potential victims who may not be as familiar with the burgeoning rental scam economy.

Many rental platforms now include identity verification measures and other safeguards to protect would-be victims from falling prey to a scam, but it ultimately falls on the renter to stay vigilant and watch out for any sketchy signs that a listing might not be as advertised.

Lead photo by

Jack Landau


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