When it comes to finding new tenants, most landlords and property management companies use a rental application and require at least some form of references. These are excellent tools and can help determine the quality of each applicant. Everyone knows that getting good references from employers and previous landlords are a good indication as to the quality of the person who filed the application.
At the same time, it should come as no surprise to you that a certain percentage of those filling out applications are willing to lie on their applications. Here are two of the most common lies and tricks prospective tenants might use to try and pull the wool over your eyes.
The Fake References Trick
It’s really not that uncommon for an applicant to have a friend or family member pose as a former supervisor or landlord, especially for those who are afraid their “real references” may present less than a pretty picture. If you have been in the business for a while, the chances are good that you have long since learned how to sift through the chaff to get to the wheat.
What you may not know is that there are online companies who offer complete reference services. These companies literallymake a living out of telling lies to landlords and property managers. Some will provide a phone reference, but for the right money will create a website for the phonycompany and provide Google map location information for them. The amount of service providedis equal to the amount of money a person is willing to pay.
True, the average tenant is not likely to spend the kind of money it takes to hire a professional reference provider. One of the easiest ways to spot a fake is to take the company name as written on the application and compare it to the company’s registered name. In the end, however, you should base the bulk of your final decision on the person’s background check report which covers the person’s credit history, any records of evictions, and any criminal record. As long as you stick to what is writtenin your screening policies, you can’t be accusedof being discriminatory.
Most landlords and property managers have specific income requirements prospective tenants must meet in order toqualify for a lease. In most cases, if these income requirements are not at least three times the lease, your tenant could easily end up in financial straits. The only way you have to verify a person’s income is via the paystubs submitted as part of the application. Here again, there are online sites where a person can generate paystubs that look professional for a small fee. Not only is doing this wrong, but it is also against the law.
One way to prevent yourself from falling for this trick is cross-reference the information shown on their paystubs with that contained in their credit report. You can also try asking their employer if they are willing to verify the person’s position and income. In lieu ofa pay stub, you can always ask for tax returns, proof of student loans and grants, VA benefits, or their bank statements.
A little knowledge can go a long way towards helping you as the landlord or property manager avoid being suckered into leasing propertyto an unqualified tenant. The most important thing to remember is to double check and triple check everything a prospective tenant provides you and then just use your best judgment.