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4 Helpful ways for Property Managers to Spot Fake Landlord References

Image is the word FAKE written in red against a white background.Whether someone is a rental property owner, or a property manager such as Martin Feinberg, finding the right tenant for an empty property can be difficult.  Prolonged vacancies often produce financial pressure, which can lead to filling empty units as quickly as possible.  But as every experienced property manager knows, renting to the wrong tenant can have its own bad financial consequences.  One of the ways that property managers screen out future troublesome tenants is to use landlord references.

On their face, landlord references may seem like the perfect way for a rental property owner or property manager to find out what they could be getting themselves into with a perspective renter.  However, it can be remarkably common for potential tenants to have friends, relatives, or even a paid service (there are quite a few out there) provide phony references for them.

Though there will always be renters trying to scam their way into a property, there are steps professional property managers can take to help ensure they won’t fall victim to the ruse. The four tips listed below can help ferret out perspective tenants that are being less than honest with the references they have provided.

Call the Number as a Renter

Property managers should call the previous landlord’s number, but instead of asking about the renter, they should call and pretend to be looking for a rental.  A real landlord will have some genuine information to give and will not stumble when giving it.  Imposters, on the other hand, are likely to be confused or even to just hang up.   For those property managers that want to be sure they are speaking with a real landlord, they should actually schedule an appointment to see a property.  A fake reference is very unlikely to follow through.

Dig Through Facebook and Instagram

Property managers should look up the reference’s name in social media to see if there are any connections to the perspective tenant’s profile.  They should specifically look to see whether they’re friends or followers, or if they are tagged in pictures and posts.  There’s nothing wrong with having a friendly relationship with your landlord, but most tenants and landlords are not a part of each other’s personal lives.

Request to see the Details

Since most landlords keep files on their tenants, it’s smart for property managers to use that to their advantage and verify information.  They should call the reference and ask for details such as move in dates, move out dates, social security number, and birthday.  Property managers should definitely ask the reference to give them the information rather than outlining the details for them to sign off on.

Cross Reference the Phone Numbers

Another simply thing that property managers can do is to search the phone numbers there were provided and see if it matches up with the name of the reference. Or they can do the opposite and search the landlord’s name to see if it’s connected to the same number.

Image is a hand holding a pen getting ready to sign next to some house keys.There is no foolproof way to spot fake landlord references.  Some legitimate landlords might come off as less than professional and some imposters can be dedicated to keeping the con going no matter what.  Using a combination of these tips can help but property managers still need to investigate each potential tenant thoroughly before deciding that they are a good fit for the property in question.