We’ve previously written about common tenant screening scams. From falsifying rental history to inflating income, there’s nothing that bad tenants won’t do to deceive landlords. Unfortunately, there are plenty more creative tenant scams that are commonly carried out on unsuspecting landlords. These scams usually take place well after the rental agreement has been signed. Knowing how to spot and avoid these scams will help you avoid renting to a bad tenant, and save you a great deal of time, money, and energy in the process.
The sublet/AirBnB scam
One of the most popular rental scams is also one of the most creative. A tenant will successfully navigate their way through the application process, sign the rental agreement, and collect the keys in the same way any other tenant would. The scam begins once the rental has started, and after the landlord has dropped their guard. The fake landlord scam involves the new tenant moving into your property, paying rent for some time, and then listing your property and renting it out to other tenants who aren’t aware of what’s happening.
This scam will continue until the property owner notices that rent hasn’t been paid, quickly discovering that the people living at their property aren’t who they initiated rented the unit to. Meanwhile, the scammer has long since made away with the money collected from their victims. The best way to avoid a situation like this is to set up a Google alert for your property’s address, as well as regularly checking platforms like AirBnB, Facebook Ads, Craigslist, and Kijiji. Other ways to avoid these scams are to maintain an open line of communication between you and your tenants, check in regularly, and drive by your property periodically to ensure that all is well.
Selling furniture and appliances
Some landlords have gone through the entire rental process without any hiccups, only to discover that their tenants have sold the furniture and appliances provided with the unit prior to moving out. This scam usually takes place immediately before the move-out, with landlords who aren’t diligent about holding a move-out inspection. Discovering that the furniture and appliances you’ve supplied have been sold could potentially cost you thousands of dollars, depending on what was provided and how old the appliances were. The best way to avoid this loss is to ensure that you hold move-out inspections, and inform your tenants about them as soon as they give their notice to vacate.
The “foreign renter” scam
The foreign renter scam is the oldest trick in the scammers playbook, and yet landlords around the world continue to fall for it. These scams almost always involve a “foreign renter” responding to your listing by email or phone call with the intention of applying for your rental – the only problem is that they’re out of the country, but will be moving to your area for a job. These scams usually progress to the point where the applicant sends you an employer’s check for a sum larger than what your deposit amount is. They’ll then ask you to return the difference to them, only for you to discover weeks later that the check they sent was fraudulent and the scammer has gotten away with your money. Dealing with applicants strictly through any non-personal means can be a risk, making it important to interface with tenants. In addition, it’s never a good idea to accept a check with any sort of overage, nor is it a good idea to rent to anybody who hasn’t actually been to see the property yet.
The best way to avoid falling for a tenant scam is to thoroughly screen applicants, and to take the process very seriously. Highgate Properties is an experienced Toronto property management company with a team well-versed in screening, dealing with bad tenants, and managing the day-to-day duties of landlords, freeing you up to deal with the more important things in your life. For more information about the property management and realty services offered by the experienced team at Highgate Properties, contact us today.