A disturbing trend I've come across recently is the fraud in the rental space. As an agent who handles a fair share of rentals; these issues have shown up over several ways this year. I'll tell you about 3 instances I've had and the red flags that appeared with each!
When I'm representing a landlord and an application comes in, I spend a lot of time going through an applicants documentation and getting references and looking through their background. Here's what I do:
- Call their employer by finding the employer's website and calling through their office to confirm employment. I don't just call the supervisor on the application
- Look carefully at the documents to see if they are real; company letterhead & credit reports can be faked or bought
- Check social media & linked in
- Call past landlords
- Make sure there is a building at the address they're currently renting
- Check that the landlords name and property owners names match. If it's an apartment building call through the property management company if it's an apartment rather than calling the number provided.
- Look at the credit report for signs of altering
With those things in mind, let's look at 3 things that have happened to me this year!
1. Student rental Scam - fake rental and landlord
First of all, you should never have to pay to submit a rental application, or be asked for a deposit before you get a chance to see the place. These scams are generally ads on sites like Kijijii and Facebook for rentals that look too good to be true. They also steal MLS listings for homes and advertise them at lower rates. I came across one recently through a family friend desperate for some student housing. It was a big scam; and when I called them out they 'protested too much'. Here's how to spot these scammers:
- They demand payment to submit a rental application
- They demand a deposit before you see the unit
- Makes excuses why they are not available to speak to on the phone
- Will only communicate through messenger, text or email
- The advertised price is way lower than other rentals
- Their Facebook profile was just created
- Their Facebook name does not match their user name ID (see the URL)
2. Fake Rental Applications
There are some very good forged documents out there. I had some people submit an application on a lease I was advertising and here's what I found during the checks, among the other checks I did as above :
- Inconsistencies in addresses on the application
- Employment letter does not look real - no header or footer with information on the company letterhead
3. Forged Tenacy Papers
I had a call from a gal who had a great story, good employment, good credit, moving to Toronto from outside the city for work, can't come in to look for a place so needed virtual showings. Could I help her find a place. Sounds great right?
Now I don't usually check tenants out before I help them (and I'd helped out a client with an out of town move this year already in a similar situation) But with everything going on right now, I felt it couldn't hurt to see what her references would say. So she sent in her application &
then came the paperwork - the address of her job didn't match up with her story. The company had never heard of her or her supervisor. There was even no property listed at the home she had put for her address! Other red flags for scammers include what she did:
- get overly upset when called out
- provide complicated excuses for 'mistakes' on application forms
- call the fact checker a liar, unprofessional, etc.
So be careful out there folks!