01.19.2023 | Community Resources

Who Ya Gonna Call in Toronto Real Estate? How To Avoid Ghost Tenants and Fraudulent Sales

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Ladies and gentlemen, have you ever heard of the ultimate real estate nightmare? No, it’s not a haunted open house or a ghost of commission past. It’s a true story that happened to a Toronto homeowner, and it will make you question everything you thought you knew about renting out your property or finding a new place to call home.

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It all began when a Toronto homeowner’s great-uncle moved into a long-term care home in late 2021, just before his 95th birthday. To help pay for his expenses, the family decided to rent out the east-end Toronto home he had owned since the 1970s. They turned to a local Toronto Real Estate Brokerage and found two agents who helped them find and screen tenants to rent the house located just off Queen Street East near Kew Gardens in The Beach neighborhood starting in December 2021.

But that’s where things took a turn for the worst. The family later learned that the tenants they had chosen had used fake identity documents and bogus references on their lease application. The police eventually referred to them as “ghost tenants” after trying to locate them. I mean, talk about a ghost of the tenant’s past, am I right?

And if that wasn’t enough, just weeks after the lease agreement was signed, the family found out that someone posing as the 95-year-old homeowner had hired two different real estate agents from another Toronto Real Estate Brokerage to list the house for sale without the family’s knowledge or permission. The home was staged with furniture, advertised online for $1.29 million, and quickly generated a flurry of offers, with one coming in at $1.9 million. I mean, talk about hot property, am I right?

The homeowner’s family was able to put an end to the attempted scam before the house could be fraudulently sold. But the case bears a striking resemblance to another case that the Toronto Police Service (TPS) asked for the public’s help with last week, in which another family wasn’t so lucky.

The second scenario is as follows: Another case of real estate fraud came to light when a Toronto homeowner couple left Canada for work in January 2022, only to learn months later that their property had been sold without their knowledge by people using fake identification.

According to the Toronto Police Service (TPS), the fraudsters were able to pull off this scam by impersonating the homeowners and presenting fake identification documents to a real estate agent, who then listed the property for sale. The fraudsters then used these counterfeit identities to negotiate the sale and close the deal, all without the homeowner’s knowledge or consent.

It’s like they were playing a game of real estate hide and seek, and the homeowners were “it.”

It’s worth noting that this is not a new problem in the real estate industry. In fact, over the past year, CBC News has reported on numerous allegations of fake identifications and other documents being used to rent homes and take out fraudulent mortgages. But this attempted home theft takes real estate fraud to an alarming new level. It’s like the fraudsters are playing Monopoly with real people’s homes.

The TPS detective investigating the case believes that the cases of Walsh’s family and this couple are related and that the same fake name used by the male tenant who rented Walsh’s great uncle’s home was also used in this case.

It’s important to note that these fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods. They are using advanced technology to create fake documents and identities that are difficult to detect. This is why it’s essential that the real estate industry takes a proactive approach to verify the identities of the people they work with. They need to make sure they’re not renting to the ghost of tenants’ past.

So, what can you do to protect yourself from becoming a victim of real estate fraud? Asa homeowner, it’s crucial to be vigilant and monitor your property’s listing and sale activities. Make sure to keep your contact information up to date with your real estate agent and mortgage lender. And if you’re planning to leave the country for an extended period, consider appointing a trusted friend or family member to act as your agent and keep an eye on your property. It’s like leaving a house-sitter, but for your house.

As a renter or potential buyer, it’s also important to do your due diligence. Be cautious of any deal that sounds too good to be true and make sure to verify the identities of the people you’re dealing with. If something seems off, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to ask for additional documentation or to contact the authorities if you suspect fraud.

In conclusion, this is a serious issue that is affecting the real estate industry, and it’s important for everyone to be vigilant. So, let’s all do our part to make sure to listen up, let’s get real for a second. This story of the ultimate real estate nightmare is a severe issue and it’s important that we take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else. But let’s not get too worked up just yet. The key is to be aware, stay vigilant, and do your due diligence. Think of it like a game of “Ghostbusters” but instead of catching ghosts, you’re catching ghost tenants.

And let’s be real, it’s not like this is happening every day, it’s just a reminder to be cautious when renting out your property or finding a new place to call home. So, don’t be like “Who are you gonna call?” when something seems off, just use your own judgement and common sense.

And let’s not forget, a little bit of humor never hurt anyone. So, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation just remember, “I ain’t afraid of no ghost tenants.” But in all seriousness, let’s work together to make sure that the real estate industry is a safer place for everyone. And always keep in mind, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Do you have questions or want more insights on the Toronto real estate market and the best strategies for buying and selling today, call or text me at 647-973-8392. I’d love to connect!

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