Rental property scammers are taking advantage of Nashville's market, police say

North Nashville for rent sign
Posted at 5:42 PM, Sep 21, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville police urge caution for buyers and renter as they peruse real estate opportunities.

Rent prices are continuing to climb across the Nashville area. Add in the short supply of housing and it can be an easy market for scammers.

It's something Jacob Tippets, a commercial real estate broker in Middle Tennessee, knows too well.

He said his friend found a home for rent that sounded too good to be true, so he called to do some research.

"My client reached out to me and said $1,100 for a property across from Belmont. It took me about two minutes as a real estate agent to figure out it absolutely wasn't legitimate at all," said Tippets. "In those couple of minutes, I was actually able to make contact with the owner. And not only did he say this was not for rent, but this is a scam. It's happened to his property several times."

Rental scams are an ugly trend becoming more and more popular in big cities like Nashville.

"We've seen upwards of 10 to 15 in a week, and you'll at least get one or two a week. So, I would say two to five is a normal week for volume," said Lt. Michael Warren, who oversees the property crimes division of the Metro Nashville Police Department.

He said it's not just money Nashvillians could be out of on a rental scam.

"It's always been a prevalent scam for Nashville because of the housing demand in the area," said Warren. "What makes these scams also so dangerous is the scammers can get more than just your money."

"There's just so much information that you're handing over to the bad guy that they can turn around and do what [they want with it] — whether they want to open a loan, whether they want to work another job, whether just want to sell your information," said Warren.

Warren said that with a fake application, they have your address, social security number and driver's license.

He said it's important to meet a landlord or seller in person and go through legitimate companies.

"All the bad guy's doing is: going to these legitimate websites, duplicating ads and posting it over on these websites that they don't vet the posting," said Warren.

Warren said if you are buying or renting a home, go through a realtor.

"They're more than happy to help you. They're more than happy to take a look at this. And like I said, it takes us maybe a couple of minutes to figure out whether or not this is a scam," said Tippets.

MNPD said oftentimes these scammers are using burner phones and fake names — so, catching them can be hard — and in most cases, the scammers are out of state or even the country.