Watch Out for These Tenant Screening Scams

It would be great if every tenant coming your way for a place to live was honest and good-intentioned. However, if you’ve been a property owner for a while, you know that unfortunately just isn’t the case. While many applicants are good people and quality tenants, a landlord must be able to recognize scams so they can avoid falling victim to them. Here are some common ones to note.

Requesting a Quick Move-In

If a tenant tries to entice you into skipping the screening process by paying several months’ rent up front, run the other way—fast. It’s tempting to think that since they have the cash now, they’ll be able to continue paying in advance, but that’s only a dream.

It’s not unlikely that they obtained that money through illegal activity and have no guarantee of more anytime soon. If you allow them to move-in, you’ll be dealing with the consequences when they slip out after the months they paid. Always screen, and don’t let a lump of cash sway you.

Fake Credit Reports

Always run the credit report yourself—always. Even if a tenant comes to you with their credit report, pay the fee and do it yourself anyway. It’s way too easy for someone to use technology to alter the appearance of their credit score. Don’t be fooled!

The Double Scammer

In this scenario, you and the tenant become a victim. The original tenant will get accepted onto your property, then turn around and advertise your property as if it’s their own. They’ll fill the space with someone else and require six months’ rent up front pretending to be the landlord, then disappear. This leaves you with a vanished tenant and another tenant unable to pay another six months of rent to you, the real landlord.

The only way to avoid situations like this is to screen property and thoroughly each and every time, even if the tenant seems perfect.

Fake W-2s and Pay Stubs

This scam is an entire market that isn’t even technically illegal, so it’s easy for scammers to purchase fake W-2s and pay stubs from someone and get away with it. So, be very diligent about research the details. Check that the workplace actually exists, and call them to follow up. Then call the previous landlord listed and make up a fake apartment name. Ask if they are the landlord of said apartment. If they’re in on the scam, they’ll say yes.

As a property owner and landlord, you have to put in diligent work to avoid the scams. It seems like a lot, but the effort is worth avoiding the headache of cleaning up someone else’s mess after you discover they are actually a terrible tenant. Screen properly, read up on your landlord-tenant laws, and always be on the lookout for scammers.

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