Renters are not the Only Victims of Scammers
It is easy to find tips on how to avoid signing a fraudulent lease; but what can landlords do to protect themselves? Avoid falling victim to predator renters. Know and understand common scams that run rampant in the world of leased properties.
The latest rental scam in Los Angeles occurs when a renter intentionally “overpays” the landlord. To make up for the difference of excess payment, the renter convinces the landlord to simply write a check for the difference in over payment. Once the landlord issues a check, the scammer cashes the reimbursement then immediately cancels the original rent check. Before the landlord even realizes what has occurred, the predator renter disappears without a trace.
Alternatively, seasoned con artists may destroy your building’s reputation by posing as the landlord themselves. In this scam, a tenant signs a lease then issues a deposit and first-month rent check – but never moves in. Next, the leasee lures new prospective renters by relisting the unit online and hosting visitations at the “available unit.” The con artist promises the unit to all interested renters. As a result, the victim proceeds to sign a fraudulent lease and pay a hefty deposit and first month rent. The con artist leasee then runs through this cycle with several prospective renters, then skips town with several thousand dollars of the victims’ money. Meanwhile, the victims are left without a rental unit to their name. The actual landlord is completely unaware of all of these new “tenants” until they suffer the repercussions of criminal charges and scathing reviews.
You can protect yourself from scammers who prey on overly trusting landlords by employing a few key policies with new renters:
- Refuse checks written for the wrong amount; or if over payment occurs, repay the difference only after the original check is cashed
- Require background and credit checks on all applicants
- Ask for references and employment verification
- Utilize an on-site building manager to keep a watchful eye present
These simple precautions can help you keep your property a prime destination for good tenants.