Tips for Property Owners
There are simple, steps you can take as a landlord to help identify red flags. The following tips could help you protect your investment:
- Consider using a broker/management service to conduct rental screenings and deal directly with the tenants.
- Run a credit and background check on potential tenants. Be cautious accepting a pre-printed credit report provided by the applicant, these can be easily counterfeited. Most landlords have the prospective tenant consent to a standard rental background screening (about $35), which
typically includes a credit check, eviction and court records, and other information. Most landlords utilize a screening service to perform this check Be cautious accepting a pre-printed credit report provided by the potential tenant, these can easily be counterfeited.
- Verify the identify of the individual you are renting to. You can request an official identification like a driver license or ID. Photo copies can be counterfeited, so ask to see their official ID.
- Verify your tenant's employment: ask for copies of pay stubs, and contact their employer to confirm their employment and salary as stated.
- Ask potential tenants for references and follow up by checking them.
Tips for Prospective Renters
Paying attention to red flags is key to safe-guarding potential trouble. The following tips could help you protect your money and time:
- Meet the landlord in person: Though some scammers will readily meet tenants in person, many, especially those operating from over-seas, will not. A personal meeting with the landlord will allow you to screen out some con artists.
- Be wary of a landlord who asks you to wire funds or pay in cash: Checks and cashier checks are returned to your bank with account information of the person who cashed it.
- Always obtain a written lease and read it carefully before signing it.
- Never rent sight-unseen: Viewing an apartment/home helps prevent fraud and also ensures that the tenant is aware of the condition of the unit.
- Conduct basic research: Use Google or another search engine to look up the address, landlord’s name and name of the management company.
- Be aware of market rates: a rental with a deal that is simply “too good to be true” should be very suspicious.
- Be aware of high-pressure tactics: Landlords who are not interested in a potential tenant’s background, don’t ask for a credit check, require upfront payments before any lease is signed or someone offering a sublease without proper authority could be signs of a scam.