Monday, August 22nd is the first day of class for students at Iowa, Iowa State, and UNI, and college students who are looking for apartments for the school year should be careful not to get scammed.

Consumer advocate Lara Sutherlin says crooks are making fake apartment listings online and asking people for up-front fees to rent a place. Sutherlin says, “Anytime someone is trying to show you an apartment sight-unseen, and they want you to pay up-front, that’s a scam and you should avoid it.”

Don’t give in to the high-pressure tactic, she says if a landlord wants you to hurry up on signing a rental agreement or lease.
“It’s important that landlords and tenants understand their rights and their obligations under a rental agreement,” Sutherlin says. “First of all, you should get it in writing, and you should go into the apartment yourself before you rent.”

Prospective renters should make a checklist and take pictures of all the existing damage when you move in. “These apartments have been used over time and they’ve been used by other college kids who’ve had a lot of fun over the years in college, which means there could be stains in the carpet and cracks in the walls,” she says, “and you don’t want to have to pay for that out of your security deposit after a year’s rent.”

Sutherlin says renters should also carefully look over their lease before signing it, including all of that fine print.