How to Identify and Avoid Common Tenant Scams

Owning a rental unit can be a lucrative endeavor but isn’t without its fair share of risks. Rental scams are a growing issue in major cities across the nation. By knowing the most common scams and adopting a thorough tenant screening process, landlords can protect themselves from unscrupulous renters and minimize the risk of becoming a victim of fraud. Here are some of the most prevalent scams a landlord may encounter, and tips on how to avoid them.

Providing Fraudulent Documents

There are many resources on the internet that assist fraudsters with falsifying a wide range of documents, making it difficult to verify their authenticity.

In addition to providing fake references, some tenants may also provide false employment information. For example, they may say they work for a particular employer, then use someone to act as a reference to verify their employment.  Fake pay stubs also have become increasingly common.  Identity theft is also on the rise, so it’s important to be aware that some tenants may use false identities to secure a lease.

Unauthorized Subletting

Some tenants may try to sublet your rental property without permission, especially if they plan to take a long vacation or travel abroad. A common subletting scam involves the tenant demanding rent upfront from the subletter, only to disappear. This leaves you and the subletter in a financially vulnerable position.

Property Damage Claims

Some tenants try to avoid their rent obligations by intentionally damaging the rental property and then reporting the damage to code enforcement claiming the landlord failed to address the issue. If a violation is issued, the tenant can use it as an excuse to not pay their rent.

Eviction Process Manipulation

There are strict rules that need to be followed during the eviction process; if any of these rules are broken, the entire process will have to start from the beginning. Unfortunately, some tenants are aware of this and will purposely delay eviction by exploiting loopholes in the system.

How to Avoid Tenant Scams

By combining detailed background checks with knowledge of rental laws and clear & open lines of communication, landlords can significantly reduce the likelihood of encountering fraudulent document scams, false property damage claims, unauthorized subletting, and any other scams that may be orchestrated in your area.

During tenant screening, make sure to talk to previous landlords about whether this has been a problem in the past. It’s also highly recommended to conduct regular inspections and to provide a comprehensive move-in/move-out report. This will help you document the property’s condition and counter any unfounded damage claims.

In addition, make sure the tenant completes a rental application that includes information such as previous and current landlords, employment history, and references.  Conduct a background and /or criminal record check.  You should also run a credit report and verify the accuracy of application details by contacting personal and professional references or requesting a tenant verification report.

It is also critical to verify employment details with the tenant’s employer. Although they can’t give you salary information without permission, they can at least let you know whether the tenant works for them.  Pay close attention to the details on any pay stubs, keeping an eye out for discrepancies in the formatting, numbers, and overall quality.  Finally, if eviction becomes necessary, make sure you understand and strictly adhere to your state’s eviction laws.

Please contact Lynx Legal with any questions regarding the above, and for all your eviction needs.  We can be reached at 888-441-2355 or  Our experienced professionals are standing by to start your case or answer any inquiries you may have.   

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