House with "For Rent" sign in the yard

10 Tips for Renting a Home on Craigslist

If you're looking on Craigslist for a home or apartment to rent, it's smart to be a little cautious. You could be conned or end up in a bad housing situation. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid ending up in an undesirable position. Here are 10 tips for renting a home or apartment on Craigslist.

  1. Never give money to strangers.
    The number one tip for anyone looking for anything on Craigslist is to never give a stranger money online. Scammers run listings on Craigslist that require you to wire money in order to "secure" a rental. The best thing to do is never give anyone money unless you've seen the house or apartment in person and the individual seems trustworthy.
  2. Set price limits.
    Craigslist will have everything from ridiculously expensive houses to cheap economy apartments. If you're looking for something in a certain price range, set a limit. You can usually set a minimum and maximum price on the sidebar of the website. Setting limits is an excellent way to save time by sticking with listings you can afford.
  3. Understand the area.
    One of the worst things about looking for a new apartment or house to rent is trying to find a place that’s within your price range and safe. If you don't know the area, it might not be the best place to live. The advertiser on Craigslist will make the rental sound great. If you aren't sure of the area, call the local police department and explain that you're thinking of moving in. Simply ask how often they are called out to the area.
  4. Don't worry about photos.
    While you should be cautious of listings without photos, you shouldn't base your decision entirely on the fact that it lacks pictures. Some advertisers may be wary of advertising their rental home or apartment on the website. If the place sounds perfect, contact the person and ask to see pictures.
  5. Examine the listing.
    If a rental listing has several grammatical errors or seems too good to be true, it might be a scam. Someone who is posting a home on Craigslist will want people to easily understand the advertisement. Several grammatical and spelling errors may mean the person is unfamiliar with the English language or that they don’t care enough to put time into the listing.
  6. Visit the home before you put down any money.
    Of course, you should visit the house or apartment before you put down money on it. Pictures can be deceiving. Rooms may look much larger than they actually are, especially if they have no furniture and the photo is taken from the corner of the room. You should know beforehand what you're paying for.
  7. Bring someone with you when you visit.
    Never meet with someone from Craigslist alone. Schedule the meeting for when someone can go with you. Having another person along will help keep you safe, and you'll also have an extra set of eyes to spot issues you may miss. Make it a personal policy to bring someone along whenever you're visiting an apartment or house.
  8. Timing is everything.
    A great rental property won't be on the market for long. There are probably a few other people with their eye on the same listing. If a phone number is listed, call the renter and tell him or her you're interested. Note: Call at a reasonable hour. Don’t call the advertiser at 2 a.m. and expect a kind reply.
  9. Trust your instincts.
    If something doesn't feel right about the person you’re dealing with, back out of the situation. No home is worth getting in harm's way or into a bad housing situation. If the renter keeps making guarantees or continuously says things that sound too good to be true, you should remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible.
  10. Watch out if it seems too good to be true.
    Many scammers post listings that are just too good to be true. This issue is a serious problem. Professional companies will describe rentals that sound amazing and are perfectly priced. One such company is This company will post several attractive listings, and once you've inquired, it will take you to a completely different location that is dangerous or of low quality. To avoid this situation, search Craigslist for the individual posting the advertisement, and if you find that he or she has posted several others, move on. 
Last Updated: January 13, 2016