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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The housing crunch in San Francisco has given rise to all sorts of questionable screening practices, even a few scams, as landlords and con artists rush to cash in on the boom.READ MORE: UPDATE: Estrada Fire Containment 35%; Evacuation Orders Downgraded as Crews Mop Up
It’s renter beware in the current Bay Area housing market, and especially San Francisco, said Tommi Avicolli Mecca, director of counseling programs at the Housing Rights Committee.
“People are being taken advantage of to the max,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”
The sob stories run the gamut from expensive application fees and bogus credit report fees for background checks that never happen, to outrageous holding fees that landlords refuse to refund when another renter winds up getting the apartment.
“There are all kinds of scams that we’re hearing about,” Avicolli Mecca said.
“Two thousand dollars for a holding fee, then they don’t get the apartment and they’ve got to go to court to get the holding fee back.”
Some have been taken in by online listings that say the first person to send in a check will get the apartment, sight unseen, only to discover a fake landlord has disappeared with the money.