Tips to avoid online rental scams

Local attorney gives tips to protect yourself on Craigslist


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville mother said she lost roughly $2,000 from a rental scam on Craigslist.

Aniger Bryant said she rented a house on the Westside off of the advertising website from a man who claimed to own the home, only to find out he was a con artist. Bryant says the real owner's Realtor showed up with police, found her belongings and left them on the curb.

Local attorney Gene Nichols said the realty company had every right to throw Bryant's things out, because technically, despite being the victim of an apparent scam, Bryant was trespassing and had no rights as a squatter. 

"In the state of Florida the adverse possession laws are very clear," Nichols said. "There are times when a person can claim property via adverse possession, which means they're squatting." 

Nichols gave a few tips on how to spot the real from the fake when real estate shopping.

  • Do your research: In Duval County, look up residence info on the property appraiser's website or through the Duval County Clerk of Courts to confirm ownership. Outside Jacksonville, search for your county's property appraiser's or tax assessor's office.
  • Know who you're dealing with; be careful on Craigslist; research the property owner

To make sure a Realtor is legitimate, visit the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation's website.