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Here’s How Landlords Are Deceiving Tenants With ‘Fake Rent’ Strategy

In Philadelphia, individuals are facing a 4% hike in rental prices compared to last year.
Cover Image Source: Rent Negotiations | Unsplash | Photo by Steven Ungermann
Cover Image Source: Rent Negotiations | Unsplash | Photo by Steven Ungermann

As the cost of living continues to surge, the burden of rental expenses continues to weigh heavily on the shoulders of tenants. In Philadelphia, renters are facing a 4% hike in rental prices compared to the previous year. However, amidst this concerning trend, there's a fraudulent tactic emerging in the market that prospective tenants need to be wary of.

Image Source: Unsplash | Outsite Co
Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by Outsite Co

"Fake rent is when landlords list one price online, but actually add on a bunch of additional mandatory junk fees to boost the total cost of your rent," said Mike Kaeding of Norhart. It is a deceptive strategy employed to attract renters by advertising seemingly lower rental rates online, only to later burden tenants with additional mandatory fees, significantly inflating the total cost of rent. While this practice may seem unscrupulous, it's unfortunately not uncommon.

With rental experts advising caution against this emerging trend, renters must equip themselves with adequate knowledge and negotiation skills to avoid falling victim to such schemes.

Image Source: Pexels|Photo by Ketut Subiyanto
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

"The reality is, you can ask for all sorts of different things. And the starting point really is to think about what you might want," states Jonas Bordo, CEO of Dwellsy. According to him, renters hold significant leverage in negotiations and should capitalize on it by strategically negotiating for lower rent, incentives such as a free month of rent, and complimentary amenities like pet rent, parking, gym access, or utilities.

An array of To Let and For Sale signs protrude from houses | Getty Images | Photo by Christopher Furlong
Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Christopher Furlong

Whether it's undertaking minor maintenance tasks, inspecting the property, or committing to a longer-term lease, these proactive measures can enhance the proposition for landlords, paving the way for more favorable terms for renters.

"Renters have all kinds of tools that they can use in their toolkit, such as being able to do some maintenance, being able to look at the property, being able to clear some snow," he said.

Image Source: Pexels|Photo by Rdne Stock Project
Image Source: Pexels | Photo by Rdne Stock Project

However, renters must also remain vigilant against the deceptive allure of fake rent. "The number one thing I recommend to consumers to do is simply to call the different properties that they're interested in moving into and then ask those properties, 'What is the list of mandatory fees that they charge and how much do they cost?'" explained Kaeding.

He sheds light on this nefarious practice, cautioning renters against falling victim to inflated rental costs masked by hidden fees. These charges, ranging from trash removal and pest control to additional amenities, can substantially increase the advertised rental price by as much as 30%.

Image Source: Photo by Karolina Grabowska | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Karolina Grabowska | Pexels

While regulatory bodies like the Federal Trade Commission are beginning to address the issue of fake rent and junk fees, tenants must take proactive measures to safeguard their financial interests. Despite the seemingly daunting task of conducting thorough due diligence, the potential savings garnered from this extra effort can amount to hundreds of dollars per month, making it a worthwhile endeavor for any prospective tenant.