A new one-bedroom apartment in downtown Scottsdale with a washer/dryer, balcony and covered parking for only $600 a month?
It sounds too good to be true, and it is.
Rising rents aren’t the only thing costing apartment dwellers more in metropolitan Phoenix these days.
More than 5 million U.S. renters have lost money from bait-and-switch schemes and other apartment fraud scams, new rental industry research shows.
About 42 percent of metro Phoenix renters reported encountering fake apartment listings or fraudulent lease deals during the past year, according to Apartment List, an online rental marketplace.
Younger renters reported the most cases of fraud, often because they are moving from other cities and can’t see the property first.
Lila Chen was looking for an apartment in Scottsdale earlier this year when she found the listing online for the amazing $600 deal.
She called the number and was told that apartment was no longer available, but there were other similar rentals available for $1,000.
Chen, who wanted to move from the Los Angeles area, emailed me, asking whether Scottsdale rents were going to keep climbing.
Apartment construction has slowed a bit in the popular area, known as Old Town, but rents are still rising. The average rent in Scottsdale is now $1,363, up 5.3 percent from last year, reports Phoenix-based ABI Multifamily, a multifamily brokerage and advisory services company.
“That advertising should be illegal," she said about the $600 apartment listing.
Missing amenities promised during lease negotiations are another common apartment leasing scam, the Apartment List survey said.
Laundry services was the no. 1 amenity promised but missing when they move in, said recent renters. Second was broken air conditioning or heating in a rental.
“Unless a renter visits a property on a very hot or very cold day, they are unlikely to test if the heat/AC works prior to moving in,” Apartment List Chief Economist Igor Popov said.
Housing advocates advice for renters:
An apartment building boom is underway in Metro Phoenix.
New and older complexes are competing for renters, and some are starting to offer deals like a month free on a longer lease.
But the deals can’t be found in all parts of metro Phoenix, hence the Scottsdale example.
The Valley is drawing tens of thousands of new residents, and apartments are in high demand.
The average rent in the Phoenix area is about $1,067 now, up 6.4 percent from last year, ABI reports. And less than 5 percent of all Valley apartments are empty.
That means there aren’t a lot of great deals out there now.