Popular Tenant Scams (as Revealed by Tenants)

by Chris on June 24, 2019

Bad tenants are funny. They complain about landlords not giving them a fair shake, but then they post their most corrupt ideas on the Internet for others to follow — and for landlords to see.

Here are a few choice examples:

How to Hide a Bad Rental History

This is a hot topic for tenants to discuss, and you’ll find chat rooms brimming with suggestions. The most common answers to how to hide a bad rental history include:

Leave the previous address off the rental application;

Give them a wrong number so they can’t call the previous landlord;

List the name of an individual who doesn’t work there anymore;

Say you lived with family during that time; or

Claim you were on a road trip (for six months).

Scamming with fake landlord references is so popular now there is a website offering to provide false landlord or employer references. For a mere $80 and a personalized script, a rental applicant can purchase a deceptive landlord or employer reference. The word ‘deceptive’ appears in the business name, which leads one to wonder who is getting ripped-off here. If an applicant pays $80 to entice someone to commit fraud and they don’t do it, it’s not like the rental applicant can complain and get their money back.

Lease-Breaking Workarounds

When it comes to following the lease rules, the best strategy appears to be to ignore them:

One tenant admits that she tells landlords she doesn’t smoke, and then secretly smokes 30 cigarettes a day in the bathroom. She claims she is 0-for-5 in terms of getting caught.

Another writes, “I leave the portion about pets blank and wait to see if the landlord asks about it.”

How to Avoid a Tenant Credit Check

This one is easy:

“Offer to pay cash.”
“Cash.”
“Pay cash.”
“I offer to pay in cash so they don’t run my credit.”

A website dedicated to people with bad credit touts the same strategy: offer to pay more rent, a higher deposit, or pay in cash. Of course, that strategy works — until the tenant runs out of cash.

One inventive soul makes his own luck: “Supply your own credit report.”

Inflating Income 101

In addition to persistent grumblings about landlords who want tenants to have enough money to pay rent and some disposable income left over for little luxuries like food, tenants are indignant about having to share financial information:

“He wants numbers, then numbers he gets. Whether they have any meaning is not relevant to me in the least.”

“How I run my finances is my business and nobody else’s, least of all the landlord’s.”

Here’s a great idea: buy blank tax forms and fill them out yourself.

Or, another strategy is to base income on the month where you received a bonus check.

But the most common: use a fake employer reference.

How to Avoid a Tenant Background Check

The number one answer on this topic is to choose an individual landlord over a company or a property manager. “Go with someone lax.”

Another popular option is to move in with someone else as a roommate or sublet from another tenant. Landlords will appreciate the frustration that one such roommate experienced when trying to find his replacement. The applicant said he had been evicted but it wasn’t his fault — the landlord didn’t like that he smelled like marijuana — so now he’s living with a friend. He has no other references, and no proof that he paid rent – ever.

One silver lining in this sea of scams is that many tenants don’t know what information a landlord can access, so it’s difficult to devise lies that won’t be uncovered. That has some applicants running scared. Also, tenants often don’t understand the line between self-advocacy and fraud. That leaves landlords with two takeaways:

It may be possible to quell the temptation for tenants to commit fraud on the rental application, like leaving blanks, by including a cover page that explains inaccuracies and incomplete information both are fraudulent; and,

Tenants need guidance. Encourage an applicant to tell the truth by explaining that some issues can be resolved. Hiding information will only result in a dispute and a bad rental history, which will make it more difficult to score the next rental.

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 is 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.

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