A tenant who defrauded landlords by moving in with an unsuspecting girlfriend and then bouncing cheques pleaded guilty to other fraud charges, according to a recent report in the Toronto Star.
A repeat offender, the tenant told reporters that he has been before the Landlord and Tenant Board five times, was accused of providing false information to the Board, and admitted he should be marked with a “big red flag.”
A former co-tenant says the man lied about his name, credit history, previous addresses and references. Because she had signed the lease, the woman ultimately faced eviction proceedings. In previous cases, the man pleaded guilty to writing bad cheques to landlords and providing altered credit reports.
Former girlfriends say that the man had used the same strategy — moving in with someone else — to appear more reliable to prospective landlords.
Yet, due to privacy policies adopted by the LTB, future landlords — and girlfriends — were unaware of this history, and therefore unable to protect themselves from becoming victims.
Reporters for the Star have been diligent in exposing this and similar stories of tenants who have left behind a string of victims. The reporter following this story appears in a YouTube video and published the tenant’s name, and alias names. Unfortunately, it is impossible to catch every repeat offender this way. One victim blames the broken system, which she describes as bad for everyone, except criminals.
It will take time for system reform, so meanwhile landlords must work at avoiding these all-to-common scams. Tenant screening can expose red flags, even in tenants who are intentionally hiding negative information. Knowledge is power.
Some important tenant screening steps that can protect landlords include:
1. Always conduct a tenant background check on a prospective tenant, no matter how charming, settled or reliable that tenant appears in person.
2. Require a rental application from each proposed occupant that details several aspects of the applicant’s financial and rental history. Verify that information. Then, ask each occupant to sign the lease agreement.
3. Maintain a guest policy that, if possible, requires consent to a new occupant, and allows the right to run a tenant background check on long-term guests.
4. Run credit reports directly from a tenant screening company such as TVS Tenant Verification Service rather than accepting a copy submitted by the applicant.
5. Include a conversation with previous and current landlords to determine that your tenant is not a scam artist waiting for the next victim.
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.