How Property Managers Protect Themselves and Others from Scams
Dealing with scams and scammers is a part of life for most of us. It’s not difficult to find people who are trying to take advantage of another, especially when it comes to real estate and renting. Needs for housing, poor credit, and/or a criminal background can lead some perspective tenants to utilize deceptive measures to secure a rental. Renters can also fall prey to scammers, who can use fraudulent rental listings to steal money from tenants without providing an actual place to live.
Understanding how rental scams work can help property managers like Martin Feinberg protect themselves from risky situations while protecting perspective tenants from scams aimed at renters as well. Professional property managers understand their duty to shield the rental market from scams, regardless of the target.
The most common scam perpetrated by would-be-tenants is lying about income and job stability on rental applications. Lying about pets or the number of tenants who will be living at the property are other common lies heard by property managers. Such lies create potential risk and can end up costing a landlord hundreds of dollars in missing rent or property damage.
To combat such scams, property managers must conduct thorough tenant screenings, require every prospective tenant to fill out a rental application, and use real credit, background, and evictions reports when deciding whom to rent to. No property manager enjoys being cynical but trusting the information provided by a perspective tenant without verifying is an unnecessary risk and should never happen.
Tenants most often fall prey to scammers who have created ads with real or fake information and photos about homes that have already been rented or are actually for sale. These scammers then communicate solely through email, claiming they are out of town for a job or overseas doing missionary work and that the property will need to be rented site unseen. Once money is provided, the promised keys never materialize, and would-be renters find themselves out of a lot of money with nothing to show for it.
What can a Property Manager Do?
Experience property managers will usually report any listings they come across that seem problematic or cause red flags. This helps to protect the integrity of the industry. Only working with reputable websites that actively monitor their site’s content is also important. Property managers can also add watermarks or their business’ brand to photos of their rental properties to keep scammers from repurposing them. To help protect themselves from scams, property managers should also always screen tenants to verify identity and income, and should never provide any refunds for overpayment before the original check clears.