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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 complicated task. After all, the burden is on the landlord or property owner to certify that the tenant has honestly represented themselves. Unfortunately, a few tenants may use false or misleading information on their application, from a fake “previous landlord” to fraudulent pay stubs – and beyond.

Setting aside how wonderful the tenant may look at first glance, you must do your due diligence and evaluate every component of their application. You can begin by learning about some of the most common ways applicants may falsify information and how to spot them.

Fake Landlord and References

Renters know that you will have 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 an adverse rental history, they may try to engage you with fake references.

Sometimes, this could be a friend or family member they’ve asked to pose as a Central West End property manager or reference. But it could also be a professional service they’ve hired. Contingent upon the service, these can seem very convincing, unless you are double-checking the whole thing.

Fake Employment Info

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

To prevent being misled by fake employment data, make sure to cross-reference everything they put on their application with the information on their credit report. The round numbers, inconsistencies, and a lack of professional appearance are some of the red flags to watch out for.

Lies About Criminal History

The background check is another source of conflict for some applicants. Some potential tenants may wish that you won’t check their background too carefully and claim that they don’t have a criminal record on their application. Of course, if you are utilizing a background checking service of any quality, you’ll be able to spot it straightforwardly.

While a decent background check can be costly, a professional Central West End 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

Providing a fake social security number or one that belongs to a child or family member is another common way for the applicant to fake a rental application. There are numerous factors why this could be the situation. Some people want 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 contains very little information, the odds are that the social security number is either fake or belongs to a child and not the applicant. Also, it is necessary to keep an eye out for inconsistencies, and if something seems off, do some more digging.


Perhaps the effective way to avoid getting duped by a fake rental application is to employ a Real Property Management Specialist 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.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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