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Protect Your Rental: How to Spot a Fake Application

Rental Application Form and Income StatementsVerifying a potential tenant’s information on their rental application can be a real challenge. In spite of everything, the burden is on the landlord or property owner to guarantee that the tenant has honestly represented themselves. Unfortunately, some tenants will give false or misleading information on their application, from a fake “previous landlord” to fraudulent pay stubs – and sometimes even more.

No matter how good the tenant may look at first glance, it’s important to do your due diligence and carefully check each aspect of their application. You can start by learning about some of the most usual ways applicants may fake information and how to spot them.

Fake Landlord and References

Renters learn that you will want to contact their previous landlord for a reference, not to mention at least one or two people who can vouch for them. But if the tenant has a bad rental history, they may try to connect you with fake references.

Sometimes, this could be a friend or family member they’ve asked to pose as a Richmond property manager or reference. But it could be a professional service they’ve hired, as well. Depending on the service, these can look very convincing unless you are double-checking everything.

Fake Employment Info

The same way is correct about an applicant’s employment or income information. Tenants may try to inflate their income to help them qualify for a better rental home, and some of the tactics used can be quite complex. Some tenants may go so far as to fabricate pay stubs using online pay stub generators to “prove” their income.

To prevent being fooled by fake employment info, be sure to cross-reference anything they put on their application with the information on their credit report. There are quite a few red flags you can look for, including round numbers, inconsistencies, and a lack of professional appearance.

Lies About Criminal History

Another bother area for some applicants is the background check. Some potential tenants may hope that you won’t check their background too carefully and claim that they don’t have a criminal record on their application. Obviously, this is typically a pretty easy one to spot if you are using a background checking service of any quality.

Even though a quality background check can be pricey, a good Richmond property management company will be able to deliver more thorough checks as part of your service contract – and keep you compliant with Fair Housing laws. That alone might make it worth hiring one to manage your properties!

Suspicious Social Security Number

One more ordinary way an applicant may try to fake a rental application is by providing a fake social security number or one that belongs to a child or family member. There are many reasons why someone might do so. The applicant may have a motive to conceal their credit history or may not even have their social security number.

Either way, you can watch for a few red flags that will make spotting a fake social security number easier. If the credit history is blank or has almost nothing on it, the chances are that the social security number is either fake or belongs to a child and not the applicant. It’s also important to watch for inconsistencies, and if anything seems off, do some more digging.


One of the easiest ways to avoid getting duped by a fake rental application is to hire Real Property Management Richmond Metro to screen your tenants for you. Our local offices have access to some of the best screening programs in the country, offering you high-quality services on a personal level. Contact us online today to learn more about our full range of property management services.

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