Cuomo warns apartment seekers against rental scams

August 21, 2013 05:50PM

Governor Andrew Cuomo is urging apartment seekers to report rental scams to the New York State Division of Consumer Protection. Cuomo cited brokers’ false promises of securing rental apartments and charging illegal fees as common incidents facing would-be renters, particularly first-timers and immigrants.

The announcement comes after the department received complaints about unethical real estate agents and listing providers. DCP has received 211 complaints since January, with 121 from the New York City area.

Areas popular with young residents or immigrants new to New York are especially popular with dubious brokers, with some posing as real estate agents or “apartment hunters” offering to work with tenants to find apartments. The typical scam is a demand for money up front in the form of a deposit, fee and/or first month’s rent, which the scammer then does not return, despite not following through with apartment-hunting promises.

Cuomo has advised renters to verify that agents are licensed, avoid nonrefundable commission deposits and check with outside sources to make sure that an apartment is actually available, among other things. — Julie Strickland