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Beware of Boston apartment scams in 2021.

Boston’s apartment rental market has been turned upside down by the pandemic, making it hard to tell a good deal from one that’s too good to be true.

Q: I am moving to Boston and need to look for an apartment. A friend told me to watch out for scams. What am I supposed to watch out for and how would I know if a listing is problematic?

A: The Boston apartment rental market is flush with inventory as rents stagnate and fall, creating conditions where it can be hard to tell a good deal from an absurd one.

Here’s what to watch for:

Bait and switch. You see a listing, show up at the building and the broker tells you that the apartment is no longer available, then leads you to another apartment down the street that’s nothing like what you saw online. If this happens, walk away.

Signing sight unseen. You should be able to see an apartment before you rent it. If a broker tells you otherwise and expects a deposit for a space you cannot tour, do not pay.

Broker fees. Brokers can charge renters a broker fee, but in today’s market usually, the landlord pays the fee, if not, ask the broker for a reduced fee.

Teaser rent. Many landlords, struggling to fill vacancies, are offering a month or two of free rent, with the savings spread over the term. Sometimes the rent listed on the advertisement reflects this lower monthly payment, not the actual rent on your lease. So when the lease comes up for renewal, you will be charged a much higher rent, with any increase based on that higher sum. So ask the broker to tell you the gross rent, not the net effective rent.

Too good to be true. Rents are lower than they’ve been for a long time, but apartments in downtown Boston are still expensive. If a rent looks suspiciously low, check comparable listings in the building and neighborhood to get a better understanding of the market. Check the apartment’s rental history, too, to see what it rented for in the past. If you cannot find any rental history, that could be a red flag, too.

Take your time, do your homework and, don’t let your emotions override your common sense.

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