How to Avoid Scams as a Renter

How to protect yourself from fraudulent listings

As a renter, the first and most important way to protect yourself from scams is to only deal locally and face-to-face. Doing this will protect you from almost all scam attempts.

Most scams on rental listings site go something like this:

  1. You see a listing that seems too good to be true - "$1000 for a furnished 2 bedroom downtown"
  2. After contacting the landlord, they reply with a story that involves them being out of town and with no way to show you the property directly.
  3. The landlord will then ask you to send money to secure the property. After they have received the funds, they claim they will mail you the documents and keys.

To protect yourself from fraudulent listings, remember these tips:

  • Always see a property and the landlord face-to-face, never rent sight-unseen.
  • Beware of listings that seem too good to be true, they usually are.
  • Never send payment to anyone you have not met in person.
  • Never give out financial information until you have met the landlord in person.
  • Refuse background/credit checks until you have met the landlord in person.
  • Bring a friend to look at properties if you feel unsafe doing so by yourself.

Remember to always use caution and common-sense when using Viva Liva or any other classifieds site. We do our best to delete fraudulent listings and accounts, but the best protection is to be careful and follow the tips we mentioned.

Who to notify about fraud or scam attempts?

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or 888-495-8501 (toll-free)
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
Your local police

If you suspect a listing on Viva Liva to be fraudulent, you can let us know by email or by clicking the “Suspicious Listing” button located below the mini map on every listing page.

Image showing the 'Report this listing as inaccurate' button

A real example of a scammer’s email

We’ve highlighted the parts of the email that should raise your suspicions:


How are you doing today? Thanks for your interest in the apartment. The unit is a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom furnished apartment. I am presently working Houston Texas, I relocated to Texas after my wife's death some months ago and my kids are schooling in TX. The apartment is available for the next couple of years as I'm not sure when I'll return back to Canada. So i am looking forward to a person that can take very good care of the unit and I try to get an agent that we can give this documents before we left but couldn't get any because I left in a hurry and will also like to choose my tenant personally, also l don't want anyone to take advantage of the apartment in my absence that is the main reason I took the keys along with me to Texas. I will be sending it directly to you after we might have reached an agreement. The rent is $1000/month and the security deposit is $500. You can go to the address at any-time and see the building from the outside pending the time we will reach a conclusion and you will receive the keys.

I will be sending the keys to you after we might have reached a conclusion and payment received. It will take 3-5days for the keys to arrive.

Will you be staying in the apartment alone?
The apartment is fully furnished and decorated, would you like to keep the furniture and decorations?
Are you interested in a monthly lease or yearly lease?

So, you can answer the few questions above and get back to me so that I can for forward the short rental application form to you.

Thanks and hope to read from you soon.