Why Apartment Rentals on Craigslist are Dead

Why Apartment Rentals on Craigslist are Dead

Between the widespread scams, nightmarish landlords, and sketchy first meetings, Craigslist has no place in the current apartment rental market. As someone who has used the service as both a renter and landlord on numerous occasions, I can personally attest to the downsides of the platform.

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Scams Galore

There are virtually no measures in place to ensure the integrity of property listings. Neither landlords nor renters are safe from the dangers. One common scheme involves taking legitimate listings and reposting them. The hope is the reposter will be able to collect a fraudulent security deposit. Unsuspecting renters will respond to such ads and some end up paying a security deposit to reserve a "too good to be true" apartment. At this point, the game is over and the fake "landlord" is gone before anyone realizes what’s happened.

On the landlord side, scams are less likely to occur. But landlords are also less likely to get quality tenants out of those perusing Craigslist ads. While many people applying for properties on Craigslist make great tenants, there are many that are more risky. This is why it’s important to always run a proper tenant verification.

Some applicants are forced to look on Craigslist because other landlords and apartment complexes require credit/background checks. Smaller landlords who advertise on Craigslist do not always verify their tenants. Renters know this. As a landlord however, you should always take the time to run a credit and background check on prospective tenants. If you don’t, you run a greater risk of getting a problem tenant in your property which can cost you thousands of dollars.

Low Quality Listings

Many listings on Craigslist contain either incorrect or incomplete information on a property. For instance, an alarmingly high number of property listings do not even contain pictures. Considering (almost) every person currently carries a camera with them in the form of a smartphone, this is unacceptable. Further, there is nothing in place to prevent someone from purposefully misrepresenting property details. I’ve experienced times when the utilities were said to be included. But when I showed up for the viewing I was told that utilities would be extra. This can become frustrating.

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Lack of Technology

This is the age of self-driving cars. Yet, people are still using Craigslist to communicate with landlords and arrange for lease signings in the most low-tech way possible. I’m not advocating that human interaction should be removed from the process. It’s just that the way things are done now makes for inefficient and unsecure exchanges of information between renters and landlords. Simple things like online rental applications and tenant screening are absent in Craigslist posts. The better the interaction between landlords and renters, the safer both parties will ultimately be. What’s ideal for most? Landlords are looking for consistent and stable tenants with low turnover. Tenants are looking for polite and reasonable landlords who take pride in their properties. The problem is that these types are increasingly going away from Craigslist in favor of other options.

Bottom Line

Craigslist was a fine option for most people when it was founded in 1995. But the truth is that it has changed very little over the past 20 years. Even for real estate industry standards it has been a slow evolution. As other aspects of our lives have become more efficient and streamlined, Craigslist has remained cumbersome and risky to use. Additionally, lack of a built-in tenant verification service makes it dangerous for landlords to find good tenants

Many have used the service due to a lack of better alternatives. The good news is there has been a push in the tech sector to overhaul apartment rentals, so better options will likely be available in the near future.


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