Tenant Reveals How to Scam Landlords

by Chris on January 30, 2012

A self proclaimed tenants’ rights advocate caused a controversy this month with a posting on a community forum on Kijiji. The anonymous author offered tips on how rental applicants with bad credit could score a lease by deceiving the landlord.

This bad tenant rant uncovers some of the more common ways a tenant may try to cheat on rental applications–which is useful information for any landlord who wants to avoid getting scammed.

The first thing the author points out is that small or “mom and pop” landlords are the easiest to manipulate.  “Corporate” landlords, the author suggests, are a waste of time because they will require a tenant background check. Small landlords are less likely to go through the trouble of screening tenants, according to the posting.

To identify small landlords to target, the posting directs tenants to apply for rentals advertised on free sites like Kijiji, because smaller landlords are trying to save costs.  The author also suggests driving around and spotting “for rent” signs on lawns.  Alternatively, tenants should target ads in free community bulletin boards.

The author suggests those rental applicants on government subsidies who fear discrimination should use words like “Ontario Works” or “ODSP” to describe income, because “many mom and pop landlords don’t know the terminology.”

Those who have had problems with landlords in the past are told to enlist the help of a friend with a cell phone to pose as the previous landlord.  The author writes, “It may be a bit dishonest, but finding a home is about survival and having a safe home is more important than a little fib.”  The posting suggests prepping this fake landlord by providing them with details about the property, like the address, dates of tenancy, and the amount of rent, and to describe the tenant as quiet, or that their rent came directly from the government.

Finally, the author suggests that if an applicant has a pet, they should not tell the landlord. Instead, they should bring the pet as soon as they move in, and the landlord cannot do anything about it.

For the most part, others participating in this forum discussion criticized the advice, fearing that it will only encourage more scrutiny from landlords, and make it harder for tenants to find a place to live.  But others agreed, referring to Ontario’s tenancy rules as too “landlord-friendly”, even calling for the end of tenant credit checks altogether so that a landlord could not reject a tenant for poor credit.

The author did offer one valid tip: Tenants should know their rights and responsibilities when it comes to rental housing. 

That’s something everyone can agree on.

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.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Jevin maltais January 31, 2012 at 6:19 am

That is absolutely wild. Very unethical. Thanks for posting.


Gregory January 31, 2012 at 8:23 am

This should have been posted like 10 yrs ago and repeated at least 3 times each year! (or even make a reference to the post) I have been scammed this way in the past and have spoken to other landlords who have had similar problems! These motherf***** are getting more widespread and one even called fire marshal to lock down my unit when I tried to evict!! Absolutely no more ontario works for me..even their case workers cant handle these a**holes! If the Govt want to cut cost this is the 1st place they should start! Ontario Works!!!

Heidi January 31, 2012 at 11:13 am

Why is it that renters do not see Landlords as human beings? Somehow they hold it against us that we have worked hard to purchase some rental property and are just trying to survive like anyone else. When a tenant doesn’t pay their rent, MY credit suffers. I have a right to ensure that I am not renting a unit to someone who has a poor rental history or a history of not meeting their financial obligations (i.e. credit check.) If a bank won’t let you money, then why should I rent you an apartment? Tenants need to consider that if their rental applications are being refused, chances are they did something in the past to warrant that, and they need to take responsibility for their actions instead of just blaming landlords who are trying to protect their assets and credit rating. I work hard to provide safe, clean housing to people and in the past I have been ripped off and suffered losses due to damages incurred by poor tenants. The person who wrote this article is very selfish. Any sincere and decent human being should have no problem renting an apartment – all they have to do is prove that they are worthy of a Landlord’s trust.

Joe January 31, 2012 at 12:57 pm

As a property owner, there is a simple way to catch them with some of this. Always ask for the 2 previous landlords, and when calling one or both, when they answer say “I’m calling about the place you have for rent. If they say anything like “what? I don’t rent apartments, you must have the wrong number” then it’s a scam. Also, it’s better to ask the older (not current) landlord for a reference because the current one may say ANYTHING just to get rid of them fast!

Gary Young January 31, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Excellent ideas, Joe. Thanks for the contribution. I will need to remember these suggestions!

Ashlee February 4, 2013 at 11:15 am

i DO not agree with this at all this is absoultley horriable you should be completley honest while trying to find a house/apartment you want to create a bond /freindship with your landlords not lie to them 🙁 so sad that people do this but the sad thing is your all sitting here discriminating people on ontairo works or odsp but some of those people genuinely need it for short periods of time in there life ive had to use ontario works a few time sin my life to support me and my children and im not embarssed to say it in the least they were there when i needed them most and too many people abuse the system and wreck it for those who truley need it todays soicety its full of scammers it disgusts me that ppl conspire liek this against landlords or anyone for that matter 🙁 why cant people treat other people with the same respect that they expect to be given …

Jesse December 26, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Although I’m not a fan nor do I support fraud, however I can understand how tenats aren’t treated fairly. I had to file bankruptcy because of a near life ending accident where I was in the hospital for a month and dind”t learn how to walk for 8 months. So I couldnt live at my apartment; I had to move back my parents’ 300 miles north for 5 months. So I was forced to move out, so not only do I have bad credit from a bankrutcy on my credit report with over $1.1 mil just in medical bills alone, but I also have bad rental history from having an eviction and left over bills they charged be that I never could pay for; which was rediculous; over $5k in “damages” from them charging me for a pet I never had, new carpet, carpet foam and other things that made no sense. So I think it’s rediuclous that I cant get an apartment or a house. How is anyone suppose to get a place to live with one mistake or from a situation like mine? It’s worse to have no rental history, so I’ll judt have to tell them I have no rental history and pay a huge deposit for a crappy place that doesn’t require no rental history, which is rare.

DBM February 26, 2014 at 10:27 pm

I rented to someone who filed bankruptcy because of medical bills. The woman now had a job and could pay. However another couple — in which neither worked — and the woman had worked as an attorney for the government but was now relying on savings, I did not rent to. There were too many red flags: they mentioned behavior that was akin to hoarding and the relative they were living with wanted them out.

My suggestion to Jesse would to perhaps sublet from someone or be a roommate to establish some kind record of reliability. Once you have shown to have had a stable job and residence, you are more likely to be accepted. Thats if your current credit record, while not stellar, at least shows a year of regularity and ability to pay.

Also, I would rent to students as long as they had a co-signer. You can suggest this too to a landlord.

Ryan Olinski April 25, 2014 at 5:27 am

I used to be on the side of the poor little guy, until I bought a home. Having a tenant even next to you can be a nightmare. I cannot imagine having this person in a building I own. When a person lives up to almost every stereotype of the welfare mom it is very sad for those children. Even as far as importing an illegal pitbull that when I met her she claimed to have paid $3500 to acquire. Though I do not agree with the law, it is the law none the less. But it is one issue I do not wish to enforce as only the dog is at risk not the idiot. Her children are the youth of tomorrow in a manner of speaking. Again and again I see laws in place to protect those who have no respect for the law. This person and others like her should not be protected, she should be made to live in accordance with the system I vote to have maintained and I have not problem saying the owner of a property should have total control of it at all times. If you don’t like your landlord, MOVE! It’s their property and should be used accordingly. Anyone with any sense knows a court order cannot make some immoral deviant pay back rent or damages. If you own o home the only sensible way to rent is rooms as to go around the landlord tenant act altogether. That way twits can be removed immediately. I personally will never rent anything but until property owners are protected from these nightmares. Well I’m now off to see about having fines levied against the landlord of my neighbor as it seems to be the only way to get her tenants to stop parking in my driveway, or in front of it, or on the lawn and the list goes on and on. Good luck to all property owners in defense of the shit bag skid. I wish you luck, which is not on your side.

lamac66 August 7, 2014 at 5:24 pm

I honestly believe even if you are a mom and pop landlord, you can minimize your risk to scammers by just doing basic tenant screening. The key is not to get desperate and lower standards.

I do know mom and pops are targeted by some of the probing questions some prospective applicants ask…like “are you property management or private owner.

I had a prospect call me last week asking about a rental I had, when I told her my criteria she said “that’s too much.” I responded “that’s standard”, she replied “not with private owners,” then hung up…lol.

There are too many landlords be it mom and pop that just don’t handle their rentals like a business.

Kathryn MacGeraghty September 15, 2014 at 11:51 am

It is my unique pleasure to ferret out the scammers. I validate the landlords’ ownership via public records, then check their telephones are correct. If I find a different number, I’ll call that one instead. Then I ask them questions that only an owner would know. We check credit, criminal, evictions, collections and liens. We verify the applicant’s identity. We call the employer, plus get paystubs.

Bill Deveno September 22, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Land lords beware
If you rent without getting references you may get sued. I was careless and believed the renters were just looking for a clean safe nice place to live and ended up being sued for 20,000.00 dollars for not having the correct permit Don’t believe me send me an email and ill send you a copy of the housing court papers.

kelly December 2, 2014 at 10:21 am

hi bill deveno can you send me a copy of the court papers? kellypham3005 at gmail.com

Joe December 23, 2014 at 9:51 pm

While we are on the subject of scammers and bad renters, I want to remind you all that there are some great tenants out there, but you have to do the work to ferret them out. I feel sorry for the people who got scammed, but learn from your mistakes, do your homework, and attract the very best tenants who will become your clients and business partners. They will happily pay off your mortgage and not ask for any of the profits.

Barb December 30, 2014 at 8:36 pm

I am a tenant who is quite and pays rent on time. I keep my unit clean and mind my own business. We just recently got a new landlord / owner and he has been difficult to deal with. He says there is no 24 hrs written notice needed to enter our unit to inspect since we have requested him to come. Every 2 weeks gives tenants a notice of entry. He adjusts the water in the toilet, doesn’t fix or inspect anything that is on the notice. He conspires with new tenants to try and get dirt on us so he can evict us. He makes false accusations against us. We don’t deserve this kind of treatment. We should not have to move out because of his actions. We did nothing wrong. There are bad tenants out there but there are good tenants who get forced out or treated poorly until they can’t take it anymore. Seems like there is no support for good tenants when it is needed. The landlord always wins no matter what.

Sarah March 21, 2017 at 11:51 am

While I don’t support dishonesty. I found the article not at all suprising, because no one wants to live in their car or under a bridge and then go to work while being homeless! Finding a place to live is getting more and more difficult. If one has bad credit or has move around a lot it’s almost impossible. It often feels as if landlords do not view tenants as human beings or worthy or any respect. I never liked the way any of my landlords treated me unless we shared the same property lived on. It was always an almost subhuman treatment and ridiculous qualifications and expectations. If I, or any renter had perfect credit and stellar qualifications I would most assuredly buy a place or find a superior alternative. Trying to rent in 2017 is basically a nightmare and makes lose confidence in their self and the world around them.
Humanity and compassion is declining on a grand level in our society and we should look at one another as sentient beings and fellow men, not landlords and tenants or haves and have nots.

nancy January 22, 2018 at 10:18 pm

I am a landlord and I left my husband because of abuse so I had no ware to go
until someone gave me a break with no rental history of my own
so think about that and others like me before you have a thought
been on both sides of this domestic violence is why I left

frustrated March 27, 2018 at 9:48 am

It’s easier to rent a place if you have a criminal past than if you’ve been falsely accused of not giving proper notice by a low class apartment manager on a power trip (they do exist believe it or not).

timothy kent January 9, 2019 at 2:04 pm

Landlords make profit off of other people’s work through no real personal effort. They will swindle and manipulate, ruin lives to satisfy their personal greed. They should be tricked at any opportunity. The fact that they’re all whining about this article 6 years after it was posted proves my point. Why do you think people are trying to trick you in the first place? Do you think being born with privileges that give you the financial mobility to purchase property bestow the right to control the fate of your fellow human beings lives?
Everyone should have a right to housing. If you own property you aren’t living in then you are a leech on society.

Charles J Cochron July 19, 2019 at 11:55 pm

Ok….my life’s motto is the golden rule. I know that is not the motto of most people living in this dog eat dog country. That being said I try to be as honest as I can always and tricking people to rent to you is horrible sounding…..or is it?

Allow me to tell you some of my experience.
Five years ago a life long friend and I moved to Texas after I went through a bad end to a relationship and had to start life over from absolute ground zero at 34 years old. With hardly any credit history(sadly I was raised to pay for things with the money I actually have instead of fake money i.e. credit) never owned a credit card in my life everything I’ve ever gotten was with hard work and cash. We got into an apartment and paid first, last and deposit in total $3,300 on top of that we paid 6 months up front($1,100 a month) and never missed a payment in the entire years lease. At the 11th month my daughter back home became very sick and I had to move in with her to help take care of her leaving a month before the lease was up while my friend stayed on. He stayed for another two months and told them he planned on moving giving them 30 day notice to which they told him they needed 60 days notice but as he’d just gotten a new job in another state he had to begin he said sorry it wasn’t at all possible. At this point the one year lease was over and it was month to month. He moved out and all was well…….until we found out that somehow they’ve gotten away with charging us $1,800 which is now in collections and entirely ruining any chance I have at getting a new place to live right now what so ever. If we paid first and last months rent and the apartment was clean upon move out please tell me how this is possible. During our lease period there were several issues that needed the ever elusive maintenance man’s attention which every time was put off until it was absurdly ridiculous( 1 month 1 week with no air-conditioning in college station Texas during July). We know that our landlords were slum lords but rentals in that area were very slim pickings at that point.

My point here is when forced into a corner ALL OF US will do what it takes to survive…..what do i do now? Eat a dog? I refuse to believe that people can’t wrap their heads around this type of situation seeing how it played out and not understanding our confusion and desperation after each rental app fee just goes bye bye and you’re told over and over that you weren’t eligible…. Yes, we could pay off the money owed but then what? If you’re down on your luck and only have enough to get moved into a place and are capable of paying rent but just can’t get your foot in the door…..what are your options…..slim to none…..in no way here am I saying lie and trick….but what does a person do

(current rental situation) a family member of my landlord has died and the estate is being sold…..30 days notice to vacate…..so me and my 17yo son are out of options. Property owners and rental agencies are no different than the renters, we’re all humans with real lives, but when you’re faced with these odds and rent is sky high and impossible to be aloud to get the chance to pay renters take it in the rear.

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