Common Cases of Tenant Fraud and How to Avoid Them

Today, the rental property industry seems to be making a move towards a more fully online process. There are virtual walkthroughs for tenants to view properties and online applications to move forward in the rental process. While the ease of completing everything online is a convenience, it can also be harder to spot fraud. Instances of fraud in the rental industry are on the rise. To avoid being taken advantage of, be aware of these top cases of tenant fraud.

Synthetic Fraud

If someone has failed a background check before, they may be hesitant to use correct information for fear of failing again. With synthetic fraud, an applicant instead uses all false information to fill in the application process. Nothing used is actually correct or valid information. Instead, the application is pieced together with both stolen and fabricated information. For example, the potential renter could be using the social security number of a person that is deceased instead of their own. Hopefully, thorough background checks in place during the application process will alert rental property owners to this issue so that it can be addressed before a property is rented out to someone it shouldn't be.

Identity Manipulation Fraud

Similar to Synthetic Fraud, identity manipulation fraud doesn't use accurate information. However, in this instance, information on the application is only slightly changed and not completely falsified. This could be something as simple as putting down a different birthday or changing just one number in their social security number. The majority of the information is correct, but just a few numbers here or there are changed slightly to manipulate the complete identity of a potential renter.

First-Person Fraud

Not everyone who applies for a rental property under their name is going to be accepted, and if they have filled out applications and been rejected before, they know this. To avoid this problem, as a workaround, some may fill in the application with the name of a family member or friend instead of themselves. The information may all be correct and the application may pass all background checks, but the person who submitted the application is not the person that intends to live at the actual address of the rental property.

Third-Party Fraud

Third-party fraud is when someone attempts to steal another person's identity and use that information on a rental application. If you are familiar with identity theft, then you understand third-party fraud. The person putting down the information on an application has no relationship with the name and information of the person they used to actually fill out the application. This case of fraud is potentially damaging to many, specifically the person whose identity was stolen.

Fraud of any kind can be frustrating for rental property owners or managers. It is important to do a complete background check into potential tenants to make sure there are no suspected cases of fraud. Tenant Background Search can help with this process. We have safety measures in place to help prevent instances of tenant fraud. Contact us today to find more information about our services.

What Potential Tenants Are Looking for in a Landlord

Experienced landlords know that it is in their best interest to do a very thorough screening of prospective tenants. This process involved checking references, doing a background check, looking into places of work or previous addresses, credit checks, and more. But what if it's also the other way around and potential future tenants are also doing their research on you? If this is the case, you want to be the ones that stand out a league above everyone else. So what exactly might prospective tenants be looking for from those they are looking to rent from?

Professional Behavior

First and foremost, professionalism is an important quality to display. Tenants want businesspeople who take their roles as landlords seriously. How you present yourself and the first impression you make could be important to gaining tenants. Being a part of business associations also shows that you are serious about operating a business.

Reputation

Next to professionalism, a great reputation is also key. It's sometimes through word of mouth that tenants may hear about rental properties opening up. If you have a reputation for being a business that is great to rent from, it's more likely tenants will come seeking you out. People will talk, and if they do, what will be said about you?

Dependable

When it comes to finding a place to live, tenants want to know that the person they are dealing with is dependable. Will they do what they say they will do? Will they follow through? This plays a large part in whether or not they choose to live at one property or another. Phone calls should be answered or returned promptly. Be available when you say you will. If tenants know you are reliable, they will appreciate the gesture and know they can depend on you when needed.

Organization

It never looks good to a future tenant to appear disorganized. Organization when running any type of business is a crucial component to being successful. It gives tenants peace of mind when they see papers are ready to be signed right away and processes are documented properly. All renter forms such as background checks, lease agreements, emergency contacts, and more should be readily available and within reach, as needed.

Communication and Honesty

Being on the same page is only achieved through communication. A tenant appreciates honest communication. Be truthful about pointing out all aspects of the rental property. Communicate any upfront issues the renter may need to be aware of. Give them all the appropriate information so they can make an informed decision that suits their needs. Start out all tenant and landlord or business relationships on a positive and respectful note. A positive working relationship goes a long way in any type of business.

While you may not realize a tenant is also checking you out, it is still good to be prepared should it happen. Have all your bases covered and be prepared at all times. For more information about being prepared with tenant background searches, reach out to us today.

Top Four Warning Signs of a Bad Tenant

Performing a background and credit check are both great ways to get an initial overall impression of a potential tenant, but they don't tell you everything you need to know to find a great tenant. Observation during the initial interview, as well as following your initial instincts, can also help determine if a tenant is the right fit. Watch for these top 4 red flags that may be an indication that unwanted issues could potentially arise.

Frequent Moving

If on a tenant application, several frequent moves are listed, that could be a red flag for landlords. Unless a tenant has a reason for multiple moves, such as working in the military, moving often could be a warning sign that a potential renter either didn't pay rent on time or disregarded lease terms that led to termination. This could mean added time and expense for you as the landlord if you move forward with the application. Including reasons on the application for why renters left previous addresses could help you determine if the renter is a risk or not.

Questioning the Background Check

If, during the application process, an applicant seems to over-question the application and background process or states that going through this process is a "sham" or "waste of time," it could clue landlords into possible problems. Tenants have a right to a copy of their background checks, but if they try to pass off these checks as meaningless or invalid, chances are they are covering up for something. Responsible tenants expect to be screened and are prepared to move forward with the process in a timely manner.

Short Moving Period

It's always a good idea to look more closely at potential tenants that seem in a rush to move in. This could be a sign that they are looking to move into a place quickly before dealing with an issue with their current landlord. Rushing into another unit or place could be meant to avoid paying for damage to a previous rental unit, trying to get out of a lease early, or trying to avoid an impending eviction. Tenants that are responsible will leave themselves ample time to find a lease and a place that is right for them.

Tardiness

Possible tenants that are constantly late to showings or appointments or don't seem to call back when they say they will could raise a red flag. If a renter always has excuses and doesn't seem to want to take responsibility for any tardiness or mistakes, it could transfer over into them as a tenant as well. They may try to make excuses for damage to the unit or may not want to own their part in anything that comes up over their time living there. Although mistakes do happen, a potential tenant's character, even during the application process, can show a lot about them.

Keep these potential problems in mind when choosing your next tenant. While first impressions say a lot about someone, be sure to be observant and listen to your instincts. It could save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

3 Tips for Choosing the Best Tenant Screening Company

Tenant screening is a vital part of protecting rentals. Whether you have rentals for a business, retirement plant, or simply to add to your assets and portfolio, it's imperative that you do what you can to protect your income. Choosing the right tenant is key to doing just that. Don't take any chances when it comes to choosing renters. Choose a screening company that can help you make the right choices. Consider these tips for selecting a screening company.

Bare Minimum Isn't Enough

Some tenant screening programs can tell you basic facts. Of course, you want to make sure that your tenants have a decent credit score. Yes, you probably would want to know that you aren't renting to a known violent criminal. But random pieces of information aren't always enough to get the full picture of a potential renter. The bare minimum isn't enough. You will want a comprehensive report that validates the full identity of a future tenant. Comprehensive reports should Include information such as background checks, credit reports, bankruptcies, checking account history, total debt, monthly debt, in addition to criminal history. This is the best way to ensure you are selecting the right applicant.

Nothing Is Truly Free

Many screening sites will advertise a $0 screening cost to the landlord. While this seems like a great deal, nothing is really ever free. All these sites are doing is passing the cost of screening off from you as the landlord to your tenant. And remember, your tenants are falling on hard times as well. High application fees can turn potentially respectable tenants away, especially those renters who are more financially conservative.

Support Is a Must

When considering a tenant screening site, it is crucial to consider the amount of support offered to customers. When you have a question about the screening process, you don't want to sit on hold for hours to get the help you need, nor do you want to be given the runaround until you can find the answers you are looking for. While you are waiting for support, good tenants will go fast. Choose a screening company that will answer your phone calls in a timely manner to provide you with the necessary support when you need it. Avoid screening sites that will buy you calls in queues. Also, try to find support that can also take after-hours calls when you are in a pinch. The more support you have when needed, the better your chances of finding quality tenants.

Just as it is important that you choose the right tenants for your rental properties, it is equally important that you choose the right screening services to find those tenants. Evaluate your priorities and choose the screening service company that is the best fit for your needs. After all, screening is the best option you have as a landlord to protect your property and your future.

How Tenant Background Checks Can Save You Money

Performing background checks can help you find tenants that are reliable, responsible, and upstanding, which can help you save money in the long run. Tenants who are reliable are more likely to pay their rent on time and a background check can provide you with information about a potential tenant to help you make the best choice for your property. Before establishing a rental agreement with a potential tenant, invest in tenant background checks to help you save time, money, and energy in the process.

When renters are looking for a place to live, there are many aspects of the search that affect their choices, including monthly rental prices and location relative to work, family, and friends. Most of the time, renters want to find a place that feels like home, and you as a landlord want them to treat their home with respect. Similarly, you as a landlord have certain qualifications in mind for the type of renter you want to trust on your property. A thorough rental application should include a tenant background check that allows you to pre-screen candidates and collect additional information that helps you make the best decision.

Tenant background checks provide you with the following information so you can make an informed decision.

Employment History

Perhaps the most important factor in selecting a prospective tenant is whether or not they will be able to make their rent payments. A tenant background check provides landlords with the employment history, which can help inform you of whether or not this person has a reliable and consistent income. An appealing prospective tenant may not have significant gaps of time without employment or a history of frequent job loss. It helps to get a picture of a prospective tenant's current and past employment for a more comprehensive understanding of their financial reliability and responsibility.

Criminal History

A criminal past doesn't need to automatically disqualify someone from a rental agreement, though a tenant background check will provide you with more context so a discussion can be had about any criminal history. There are certain red flags you want to look out for, though, when it comes to criminal record history, especially those that involve money. A criminal history of fraud or tax evasion can be a red flag that this person may not be a reliable tenant or they may not demonstrate the level of fiscal responsibility you are looking for in a future tenant.

Rental History

One of the most helpful ways to find out whether a potential tenant will be a reliable and trustworthy renter is their rental history. A tenant background check will provide you with a detailed rental history, which will show their history of rental agreements, as well as any history of eviction or other red flags that might make you wary, like frequent moves or large gaps in reported residence. A potential tenant who has lived under one rental agreement for a long period of time can be a positive sign that they are able to maintain the requirements of a responsible tenant.

What to Look Out for with Tenant Background Checks

Landlords and property managers usually have a general understanding of why tenant background checks are important. A tenant background check will help you determine the right choice of tenant that will result in reliable rent payments and ensure your property stays well-maintained and safe. Running tenant background checks on potential renters also provides landlords and property managers with a greater understanding of a person's financial and rental history. These types of routine screenings are helpful for identifying any red flags that might signal that this potential tenant would not be a good fit for your rental property. There are other factors to look out for through the rental application process to make sure you find the optimal tenant for your property.

Application Etiquette for Prospective Tenants

The application process is typically very clear and thorough, which gives a prospective tenant a great way to make a first impression by properly completing all the necessary pre-screening information. When you advertise vacancies on your property, a responsible prospective tenant will follow the instructions and supply any requested information through the application process. Additionally, if you post contact information with your advertisement, your first contact with a prospective tenant might even be over the phone or via email.

Prospective tenants recognize that rental applications are part of the process and should do their best to supply all the requested information. When a prospective tenant has concerns about what might show up on a tenant background check, such as any criminal history, they can address that information with the landlord or property manager in an attempt to be open and transparent. If you sense hesitancy in completing the required paperwork, a prospective tenant might be wary of what will be revealed in a tenant background check. Areas left blank or filled out incorrectly could be simple errors, or it could be a red flag that you want to review further.

References for Prospective Tenants

You might request references from prospective tenants as part of your rental application in order to better gauge someone's rental history. However, prospective tenants come from a variety of previous living situations, including living with family members, which can make providing references a tricky business. Family members listed as references isn't a red flag in and of itself, though a prospective tenant may wish to identify family members for their references in an attempt to avoid sharing information from a previous landlord or property manager. That's why a tenant background check can provide you with the necessary rental history and residency information so you can make an informed decision.

Why Rental History Is Important

Reviewing the rental history of a prospective tenant can help you determine whether they have demonstrated a history of responsibly adhering to rental agreements. This can also provide you with any history of evictions, which are an obvious red flag that can be cause for concern. Moving residences every year within the same city might be a sign that someone is moving out to avoid evictions. However, it helps to dig into this information further and have a conversation with the prospective tenant when you have questions or concerns.

How to Protect Your Rental Property Investment

Purchasing, improving, and managing a rental property, no matter how large or small, is a big job. It's a large upfront investment, and it takes time, energy, and money to protect and maintain it. From the beginning, you want to make sure you're making wise choices as a business owner and rental property owner, and that begins with setting goals and taking steps to achieve them. Here are our top four ways to protect your rental property investment.

Get the Right Insurance

Homeowner's insurance, renter's insurance, and landlord's insurance are all very different, but so are the different policies and plans within each type of insurance coverage. Talk to a trusted insurance broker or agent to ensure that you have the right coverage for your specific type of rental property and whatever needs come along with your property. Also decide if you'll require renters to carry their own renter's insurance policy and what you will require from them in that. Whether you're renting out a single home for long-term or short-term, or if you own a multi-unit rental property, your needs will vary and your insurance should meet those needs.

Focus on Safety

Safety is huge in any rental property--both for you and for your tenants. There are legal requirements regarding repairing and maintaining the physical space of your rental properties, but it's even better to go above and beyond to ensure it is as safe as possible. This includes the physical structure of your property, as well as the grounds and surrounding areas. One way to maintain a focus on safety is to reduce the likelihood of crime by improving security and screening your tenants for criminal backgrounds. It is one thing to improve security against outsiders, but you welcome a whole new level of security challenges when you allow someone with a criminal history to reside in your rental property.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

In the event of a natural disaster, severe storm, or another unexpected emergency, you want to ensure that your tenants and physical property are both safe and secure. Prepare your tenants and property for unexpected events by having evacuation and emergency plans in place and posted (if possible and applicable). Make sure tenants know where fire extinguishers and utility shut-offs are, and be prepared with extra flashlights, batteries, space heaters or fans, and even generators. If an emergency does occur, you want to keep everyone and everything safe while still maintaining and running your business efficiently, so put whatever you need to into place in advance so you are prepared for anything.

Be Smart with Your Business Practices

Making wise business decisions and being consistent in your business practices is key to not only the success of your business, but also in maintaining your investment in your rental property. Create and enforce rules evenly across all properties, tenants, employees, residents, and so on. Always have tenants fill out an application and make sure you're screening every individual who will reside on your property, even if they are a family friend, relative, or acquaintance of any kind. You don't need to sacrifice business practices and tenant quality in any situation, so make sure you're being as smart as possible with every decision you make.

What Shows up on a Background Check for an Apartment?

When running a background check on a potential tenant, the report will give detailed personal information about the applicant. A background check pulls information from public records to confirm the applicant's identity and provide a clearer picture of their residential, employment, and financial history. Tenant Background Search offers a fast and easy online service to address any landlord's needs in assessing a potential tenant.

A person's residential history can provide you with a better understanding of where the person has lived in the past and how long they typically reside in one location before moving to the next. This is helpful for landlords looking to find tenants who are interested in specific short- or long-term rental options and ensure the property is the right fit for the applicant's needs. It is also helpful to have an understanding of a person's rental history, whether they have experience renting in the past, for how long, and whether or not they made payments on time. Additionally, it is incredibly important to know if the applicant has a history of property damage or destruction, disturbing other tenants, or even a history of eviction.

A background check can also help verify the accuracy of the applicant's employment information listed on their application. It is important as a landlord to have an accurate understanding of the potential tenant's expected income for the duration of the lease, and an employment history can shed light on how long the applicant has been employed and their current salary. An application and background check may also provide additional employment-related information to help the landlord determine the tenant's rent to income ratio, helping ensure the potential tenant will be able to afford the rent and other living expenses. If you have a minimum income requirement, the background check report is the most accurate representation of the applicant's income and you can check this information here.

Other information regarding a potential tenant's financial history may prove to be important in the background search. Tenant Background Search offers various levels of packages, with the standard package offering a background check, the standard plus package offering a background and credit check, and the comprehensive package also including a history of eviction report. When reviewing a potential tenant's credit report information, you will see their credit score, which is made up of a variety of important factors such as their payment history, their credit card utilization, and their credit availability.

Finally, a Tenant Background Search report will also include information on the applicant regarding any criminal records, such as any misdemeanors or felonies, and whether or not the future tenant is on the sex offender registry. It is important to understand the state and local laws regarding what information in a criminal record you may use to base your decision on an applicant. In general, the idea of reviewing an applicant's criminal record is to help you determine whether or not the applicant would be a good renter for your property. Use Tenant Background Search services for all your background checks and credit checks in order to help you identify the best tenants for your property.

How to Screen Tenants

The screening process for potential tenants can seem overwhelming, but there are practical steps one can take to help identify quality future tenants and also potential tenants to avoid. Tenant Background Search understands the importance of finding responsible, reliable tenants for your property and offers three levels of comprehensive reporting to ensure you have all the information you need to make the best decision for you and your property. The following are 5 steps for how to best screen tenants:

Step 1: Meet the Applicant

While in-person meetings may not always be feasible, it can be so helpful when possible to learn more about the applicant and begin the application process together. When you are able to meet a potential tenant in person, the unofficial screening can begin. Find out what has them on the market for a new rental opportunity and what they did or did not like about their previous rental experiences. This can help you get a better understanding of what the potential tenant is looking for in a property, while also getting to know them a bit better. You may ask what brings the tenant to the area and whether they have long-term plans to stay in the area. While this information is unofficial, it often helps put your mind at ease through the rest of the steps.

Step 2: Review the Application

A standard rental application will request the applicant's full name, date of birth, social security number, driver's license, or another form of identification, and residential address history for at least two years prior. You will likely want to include other information in the application as well, such as proof of employment and proof of income. Included in the application or in addition to the application, you will want to collect the applicant's permission to run a background and credit check so you can thoroughly screen the potential tenant.

Step 3: Run Tenant Background Search

A background check and credit check on potential tenants are incredibly important to screening tenants for everything from any criminal history to their ability to pay the rent. Tenant Background Search offers online services for background, credit check, and additional reporting and provides comprehensive reports for review. Tenant Background Search is proud to offer quality services with a range of price options. The basic package offers a background check, while the plus package offers both a background check and credit check. The comprehensive check also includes an eviction report. The service is easy to use, the results are fast, and there are customer service representatives available 24/7 to address any and all questions or concerns.

Step 4: Review the Report

When reviewing a potential tenant's background and credit check, it is important to verify the identity of the applicant and understand the objectives and outcomes for both reports. The background check provides you as the landlord with information on the applicant's criminal history and personal history, while the credit check offers a financial summary and how the potential tenant handles debt. Reviewing a financial summary of the applicant can help demonstrate whether or not they have a history of on-time payments, their credit card utilization and credit score, and verification of their income. Public records of any evictions and bankruptcies are also helpful. Tenant Background Search provides simple yet thorough reports so you can easily get a greater understanding of the viability of the potential tenant.

How to Run a Credit Check

As a landlord, you understand the importance of finding responsible tenants who will pay their rent on time. Running a credit check on potential tenants is a great way to review their credit history and get a better understanding of how they manage their money. Learning how a potential tenant pays their debts is a strong indicator of how they will treat their lease payments. Here are 4 steps to running a successful credit check:

Step 1: Review Rental Application

It is common practice for potential tenants to submit some type of rental application to demonstrate interest in the property. A standard rental application generally requires the future tenant to supply their full legal name, date of birth, and social security number. It is equally important to require the tenant to provide their previous residential addresses for at least two years and contact information for a current landlord or leasing company.

Step 2: Interview Applicant for Additional Information

While not all potential tenants are able to meet in person prior to completing a rental application, many landlords find it helpful to learn additional information with someone who will be living on your property. You may find it helpful to know more about why they are interested in moving to your location, what they liked and disliked about their previous rental experiences, and what they are most looking forward to with your property. Whether this information is communicated in person or in a more extensive application, it can help you determine whether this person is the right fit to move forward with the credit check process.

Step 3: Collect Payment and Authorization for Credit Check

In order to run a credit check, you must notify the potential tenant and have them complete a form to authorize you to run the credit check. Many landlords include this paperwork in the rental application. When it comes to covering the credit check fee, landlords may choose to include the standard credit check fee in with the rental application payment, an administrative fee, or request payment directly from the tenant.

Step 4: Use Tenant Background Check Services

Upon receiving authorization, a landlord can submit a future tenant for a credit check with Tenant Background Search. Tenant Background Check offers three screening packages: the basic package includes a background check, the plus package also includes a credit report, and the comprehensive package also includes an eviction report. Regardless of the package you select, all services will be completed online and you will receive a detailed report almost instantly.

Tenant Background Search partners with multiple data warehouses to provide you with an accurate report and utilizes a secure and encrypted process to guarantee privacy for all parties. Our highly experienced staff are able to provide quality customer service and support throughout the entire process. Whether you are an individual property owner or are managing a commercial property, Tenant Background Check Services provides you with the information you need in a safe and timely manner so you can be confident in the tenants approved for your rental properties.

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