Apartment Cat-Fishing On The Rise In Boston

Concept of an apartment or living room that is too small to fit a sofa

Photo: Getty Images

BOSTON (WBZNewsRadio) - Finding an apartment in Boston and it's surrounding communities is a lot like using a dating app. There is a lot of cat-fishing, where the pictures or description don't match up with the genuine article.

Boston's real estate market recently as seen unprecedented prices, add inflation and rising mortgage rates and renters are now feeling the market pinch. This past April, Rent.com released a new report showing rent in the city of Boston is the highest it's ever been. Apartments are being snatched up in the blink of an eye, with some signing contracts without even seeing the property.

"I actually did the same thing." One rented told WBZ's Madison Rogers. "They didn't have a video of the actual place, so I moved in fully expecting to have a completely insane apartment but it was actually really nice. I think it depends on who you talk to."

Another renter said the online listing said the property has two bathrooms, but failed to mention the second facility was located in the basement. Another said the listing used distorted photos and used a fisheye lens that carefully disguised the floor severely bowed in the center.

These types of deception aren't necessarily new. In September of 2020, Attorney General Maura Healey spoke to the Boston Globe about an increase in virtual rental scams.

There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from apartment cat-fishing. Remember the golden rule, if something seems to goo to be true, it probably is.

Landlords will use every photographic trick in the boom from filters, Photoshop, to distorted camera lenses to make a property look large or hide obvious imperfections. If you're unsure if a photograph has been tampered with, a quick internet-search may turn up the listing history of the property.

Make sure you verify potentially phony addresses. Some websites like StreetEasy and Apartments.com allow the renter to enter the full address of a property to search for it's listing history. That way potential tenants can double check descriptions, photos and floor plans.

And always vet the real estate agent or landlord before sending money. Unfortunately not all listing agents are as credentialed as they claim to be.

WBZ's Madison Rogers (@MadisonWBZ) reports

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