The rental market is witnessing a concerning trend in recent years: a rise in false tenancy applications. Landlords, property managers, and letting agents are grappling with an increasing number of individuals attempting to deceive their way into rental properties through fraudulent applications. This deceptive behaviour not only poses financial risks but also disrupts the smooth functioning of the rental market. In this article, we explore the reasons behind the surge in false tenancy applications and discuss measures that landlords can take to protect themselves from falling victim to such scams.
False tenancy applications are primarily motivated by financial gain or personal circumstances.
Financial Gain: Some individuals with poor credit history, previous rental issues, or limited financial resources may attempt to secure a rental property through fraudulent means. By providing false information regarding their income, employment, or rental history, they aim to circumvent the stringent screening processes employed by landlords or property management companies.
Personal Circumstances: In certain cases, tenants may intentionally provide misleading information due to personal circumstances. These could include hiding a criminal record, eviction history, or even an intention to engage in illegal activities on the premises.
False tenancy applications can have severe consequences for landlords, both financially and operationally. The repercussions may include:
Financial Losses: When a tenant defaults on rent or causes damage to the property, landlords face potential financial losses. False applicants may intentionally deceive landlords to gain access to a property, only to default on payments or abandon the premises without fulfilling their obligations.
Legal Complications: If a false tenant engages in unlawful activities on the rental property, it can lead to legal complications for the landlord. This could include issues such as illegal subletting, property damage, or even involvement in criminal activities, potentially putting the property owner at risk of legal liabilities.
Preventing False Tenancy Applications
While it may be impossible to completely eradicate false tenancy applications, landlords can adopt several measures to protect themselves from falling victim to these scams:
- Thorough Background Checks: Conduct comprehensive background checks on potential tenants, including verification of employment, income, credit history, and previous rental references. Additionally, consider obtaining a copy of their identification documents to ensure the accuracy of their personal information.
- Personal Interviews: Arrange face-to-face or virtual interviews with prospective tenants to assess their suitability and gauge their intentions. Trust your instincts and look for any red flags during the interview process.
- Require Supporting Documentation: Request supporting documents such as pay stubs, bank statements, and references to verify the information provided in the application. Genuine tenants will be more likely to provide these documents willingly.
- Professional Screening Services: Consider employing professional screening services that specialize in tenant background checks. These services utilise extensive databases to uncover any discrepancies in applicants’ history and provide valuable insights for landlords.
- Be Vigilant: Look for inconsistencies in the application materials, such as discrepancies in addresses, employment history, or rental periods. Cross-reference information provided by the tenant with external sources to ensure its accuracy.
Get in touch to discuss how FLS can help with your tenant referencing process.