Tenant scams happen regularly, taking advantage of innocent landlords that don’t have effective procedures for screening renters, collecting rent, and writing effective contracts. These scams can cost your business hundreds if not thousands of dollars, so it’s important to know the red flags and keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
Run Your Own Credit Report
When there’s a boom in the rental market, tenants will apply for multiple rentals and come prepared with their own credit report to save on application fees. However, one of the biggest mistakes a landlord can make is to take this information at face value. Even if a tenant’s credit score looks good at first glance, it’s important to know how to interpret a credit report. A tenant’s payment history is just as important and will show their record of paying accounts on time. If you’re feeling wary, it’s never a bad idea to run your own credit check.
Validate Employer and Past Landlord
Many times, scammers will put fake names and businesses on their rental applications to trick you into thinking they have a source of income. They might also have one of their friends listed and pretend to be their last landlord in order to give them a great review. To avoid this, all it takes is a quick Google search of their listed supervisor or landlord to find out if they’re telling the truth. Make sure all numbers, addresses, and contacts listed are valid and check out the company’s website to make sure the person listed really works there.
Check Their I.D.
It’s very important to ask for two forms of I.D. and to insist one include a picture. With so many cases of identity theft, this is one of the few ways to be sure your potential renter is who they say they are. Make sure both forms have matching spelling and have all identifying markers according to your state.
Never Take More or Less Than Owed
A classic scam is when a potential tenant sends you a check “for first month’s rent” that’s a much larger amount that owed and asks you to send them the difference. This seems innocent enough, so you agree. After you send them the money, the check they gave you bounces, you can’t get ahold of them, and you lose hundreds of dollars. Another trick happens when you are about to evict a tenant. In the middle of the eviction process, they’ll tell you they can pay you part of rent now and part later. If you accept the money, you reset the entire eviction process. In general, it’s a good rule of thumb to only accept the amount owed. If you do accept more than the rent, never give change, simply tell them you’ll carry it over to next month’s rent.