At least 11 Toronto-area landlords are suffering income loss after the same tenant scammed them using a fake name.
According to this news report, the tenant provided documentation under an alias name to secure leases on multiple properties. The tenant allegedly sublet each of the luxury properties and collected rent. Some of the properties suffered significant damage and violated fire and safety codes.
At least one landlord attempted to screen this tenant but found no negative information. They found no information at all — because the tenant used a fictitious name.
The tenant allegedly sublet each of the luxury properties and collected rent, according to the report. Some of the properties suffered significant damage and violated fire and safety codes.
Reporting the tenant for fraud was easy; evicting him is another matter.
Obtaining goods or services through deceit is a crime, and that is handled by the police. But removing a tenant from a rental property is a civil proceeding and the allegations of fraud are not necessarily material to the eviction decision. One landlord’s eviction failed because he emailed a document to the tenant rather than delivering it in person, according to the report.
Property managers and credit agencies are reporting a significant uptick in tenant fraud this year, likely spurred on by the pandemic. Unfortunately, this case is one of many landlord nightmare stories in the news today.
This recent increase in tenant fraud stems primarily from online applications or documents that have been digitally altered. Landlords should expect to see fictitious identity cases occurring more frequently in the coming months, and take steps to prevent the resulting income loss.
While it doesn’t hurt to google an applicant’s name and discover if the person is a serial fraudster, internet and social media searches are a shot in the dark when it comes to tenant screening.
A more targeted approach is to develop a tenant screening policy that requires a rental applicant to jump through a few hoops. By comparing information gleaned from the first contact, the rental application, and the tenant screening reports, a landlord is better able to catch inconsistencies.
Avoid allowing the rental applicant to call the shots when it comes to documentation. The supplemental documentation should satisfy what is requested in the rental application. Be wary of someone who presents alternative records of their choosing. This includes a copy of a credit report, which may not be up to date.
To the extent that tenant qualifications can be verified by third parties, a landlord greatly enhances tenant screening. For instance, by requiring specific supplemental information to accompany the rental application, the fraudulent applicant is in the tricky position of faking employment and financial documents — something a scammer may not have prepared.
After verifying the rental application, running tenant screening reports, including a tenant credit check, can flag tenant fraud such as false identity.
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, 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.