In San Francisco, it’s the summer of rental scams

A sunny apartment at a price too good to be true. An SMS offering a loan to repay the rent debt linked to the pandemic. Or a sudden phone call promising a grant to avoid eviction – for a small initial fee.

Welcome to the world of housing scams in the COVID-19 era.

In expensive rental markets like the Bay Area, poorly detailed apartment scams and heavy pressure to hand over deposits is nothing new. But recent alerts from financial watchdogs and data on rental housing programs point to a rapidly changing landscape for California renters trying to navigate the frenzied housing pandemic market, where some tenants are struggling to deleverage while that others benefit from reduced rents.

New Apartment Guide report reveals that from January 2015 to May 2021, California was home to three of the top five cities in the country for reported rental scams per capita: # 1 Los Angeles, # 3 San Francisco, and # 4 San Diego. The report also found that the busy summer moving season tends to be the costliest, when median losses exceeded $ 19,000 per victim.

This year the timing couldn’t be worse. After a slow start to California’s unprecedented $ 5.2 billion pandemic rent relief program, officials are begging tenants to seek help before the 30’s eviction moratorium expires. September. But tenant advocates warn that a growing array of scams can hamper these efforts.

“It’s really brutal trying to prove that you’re not just trying to get information about people and take advantage of them,” said Leora Tanjuatco Ross, associate director of the San County Housing Leadership Council. Mateo.

Even before the pandemic, Tanjuatco Ross said his nonprofit was hearing more skepticism from tenants exhausted by years of rising costs and intense competition for housing. And now, dozens of community groups across the state have been recruited to help pump rent relief funds through a maze of federally funded city, county and state programs.

Last week, the state’s main rent relief program provided $ 282 million in financing to 23,760 households, according to the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency – a fraction of the 807,000 households that National Equity Atlas believes he is behind on the rent. When adding small bay area and town rent relief programs, only 10% of the nearly $ 900 million in funds available for the area had been disbursed by mid-July.

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