She used a fake name, listed her mother as her previous landlord reference and has an eviction record a mile long. She also has been accused of forgery. Oh– and she stole her previous landlord’s refrigerator.
The woman’s last two landlords joined forces last week to convey a message to all landlords: “Screen your tenants!”
The latest victims told a local news reporter that the tenant was a single mother who needed a place right away — too soon for them to check her references. Not that it would have done any good, because the names given weren’t actually references.
The landlords found that out when they tried to track down this tenant using the false information she listed in the rental application.
But both landlords let her move in before they dug any deeper. First, the woman began paying late. Then she stopped paying. When she left, she stole household fixtures and caused serious damage to the rental properties. The tenant appeared cavalier when a reporter interviewed her, calling the situation “unfortunate”, and claiming that she’ll pay the judgments against her– when she has the money.
Meanwhile, the landlords felt they got the legal runaround, and quickly learned the hard way that no one could reverse the damage done.
Scamming tenants are far more common than you think. How do they do it?
The typical scammer has a two-pronged strategy: first, they come up with a good sob story, and then they target landlords who won’t ask for a tenant background check.
The landlords in this case admit they dropped they ball. She seemed believable.
Even the most experienced landlords can get scammed. The problem has prompted one state lawmaker to consider introducing legislation that can help, like a registry of tenants who have been caught in the act.
But the chances of such a registry are remote given privacy laws and the bureaucracy it would take to manage it.
Fortunately, landlords already have many tools at their disposal for flagging problem tenants:
A tenant background check, including a credit report, eviction report, and criminal background check, is easy to do and can identify bad risk tenants. The trick is to run the reports every time, and to do it before the applicant takes possession of the property.
Verify the information provided on the rental application and require backup documentation like photo ID, pay stubs and bank records.
Check references, especially the previous landlord.
Once a tenant moves into a rental, they have legal rights regardless of how dishonest they may have been. This can cost thousands of dollars in lost rent and damaged units. Don’t let that happen to you!
This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).
Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.