Open/Close Menu
Your Rental Housing Solution
Home · Property Management · Tenant Screening : 4 Quick Ways to Spot Sketchy Applicants
Print Friendly

For many landlords, fraud is a four-letter word. Thats because they know it spells getting ripped off, with precious little recourse but to attempt to collect the bad tenant debt.

Learn to recognize some common signs of rental applicant fraud:

In Your Face Fraud

The bolder forms of fraud involve stolen or fake ID and often are used by professional con artists. Always meet face-to-face with prospects to improve the odds youll notice discrepancies ” for example, a noticeable difference in appearance from the ID. People reveal themselves through common conversation. Ask questions someone their supposed age should know.

It Just Doesn’t Add Up

Do a full background check, so you can cross-reference many reports. Is their bank account older than they are? Are there gaps in their rental history? Do they have a blank credit report? The false information is likely blended with some truth. Often, if you check out multiple sources, including references, the inconsistencies will be glaring.

He’s Just Not That Into You

An applicant may reveal an attitude of fraud. Look for transposed numbers or omitted information. Was it an honest mistake or an attempt to defraud the property owner? Study how the prospect responds when you ask. Is he nervous? Evasive? Arrogant?

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Some applicants have their spiel down pat, but when you ask questions out of chronological order, that’s when inconsistencies emerge. When a person has memorized their fake pitch, they start to sound like a broken record, and can’t go off script to fill in the gaps.

With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our Landlord Forms page.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at

Print Friendly
  • When you ask a direct question clearly and loudly and they repeat the question back to you before answering. Common stall and a clear tell that a nice little lie might be coming.

    When they tell you how well they take care of their apartment and then they walk in to view yours without even considering taking their wet shoes off before hitting the carpet.

    Perhaps not sketchy on the ‘shoes’ thing, but this is an indicator that they might not take care of the place in the way you would prefer.

  • NO ONE in the industry is talking about this problem and it’s nearly a pandemic in many c apts in c and d areas.

    They are faking SSI and SS stubs because all they do is change the name.

    Seeing many fake employment verification docs too.

    Be wary if someone freezes their credit. It will show you nothing and most screening companies aren’t aware if someone has frozen their scores.

  • Sandy

    A really good clue is they immediately offer to pay rent in advance. “I can pay 2 months rent up front or I can pay first and last month’s rent.” They offer before they even know how much the rent is.

    Another good clue is they are quiet and don’t ask a lot of questions. Almost as if they are scared of saying the wrong thing. They shake their head for “yes” and “no.”

  • Mike Dombroski

    If I could find a tenant who’s only problem is not taking off there wet shoes I would be satisfied. A majority of tenants promise you everything until once they get in. Have been told by investors that a tenant can have a great credit rating and not pay there rent or have a bad credit rating and pay there rent on time. They need to make it so landlords can put tenants rent over 30 days past due on their credit report to make them more responsible and accountable for late rent. Too many laws support the tenant not the landlord. Of course the landlord always gets blamed for a bad tenant.

  • onyxwolf

    This dude is totally a slumlord… Wet shoes?! This is the guy who talks about his rental property as if it were his “home”, even though he lives two towns over. Yet he’ll still find the time to pop in unannounced because he knows his tenants are less educated in the laws than he is, and it’s hard as hell for a tenant to prove his wrong doings. Look if you are renting then you accept the risk that all this BS is worthless in the end. You could get someone with a crappy history that just hit some bumps in the road yet you want to further ruin them for the next 7 years by putting it on their credit reports? What is gov and laws for? Protecting the more vulnerable or the less? If laws weighed on the landlord then it would be protecting the less (if you lose your home, you’ve got somewhere else to go obviously, huh?)

Copyright © 2004 - 2017 All Rights Reserved.