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Valley's hot housing market more prone to scams, Attorney General warns

Attorney General Mark Brnovich said scammers are more likely to prey upon desperate tenants who are getting priced out of Arizona's housing market.
Credit: ablokhin/Thinkstock
A "for rent" sign outside a home.

PHOENIX — Arizona's competitive housing market is allowing more residents to fall victim to scammers, according to the state's top law enforcement official. 

State Attorney General Mark Brnovich is warning tenants and homeowners to be wary of thieves who may take advantage of the Valley's shrinking supply of affordable housing. 

Tenants who are getting priced out by rising home values, Brnovich said, are becoming more vulnerable to seedy criminals posing as charitable landlords. 

On Thursday, Brnovich's office alerted residents to two of the state's most prevalent rental scams: individuals advertising properties they do not own or individuals advertising rental properties as a way to obtain personal information to steal identities.

"Arizonans must stay vigilant against shameless scammers aiming to steal your money and your identity with promises of a perfect rental,” Brnovich said. “Consumers can identify red flags in order to stay protected against rental scams.”

Landlords should be skeptical of tenants offering to pay a deposit with an excessive amount of certified funds, Brnovich warned. A landlord should wait until the funds have cleared before returning an excess amount. 

Brnovich's office encouraged Valley residents to verify the owner of a rental property, avoid listings advertising "well below" market prices, steer clear of owners who can't be reached by phone, and not paying a security deposit before signing a lease. 

Applicants should additionally stay away from landlords asking them to pay "upfront" fees on top of the normal application fees. 

Prospective tenants are encouraged to look for agents or companies who have real estate licenses. The Arizona Department of Real Estate's website contains information regarding licensed real estate professionals. 

Residents who believe they've been victimized by a fraudulent landlord can file a complaint on the state Attorney General's Office website.