• Rental scams account for hundreds of millions of dollars of loss every year.
  • 43.1% of renters have encountered or fallen for a rental scam.
  • In 2022, NC ranked #10 on the list for highest number of rental scams.

It’s no secret that renters encounter scams every day. An issue so common even our homes are used by scammers attempting to lure desperate renters in with “amazing deals”. What you dont hear about though is the landlord getting scammed. It’s true and it happens more often than you think. Read through to see scams that we’ve encountered firsthand and learn how to spot them yourself.

The Rise Of Rental Scams On Landlords

It really started picking up in 2022. Rents were high and renters looking for a new home were priced out of the market. Others faced evictions and needed to secure a new home before their rental history was affected. All in all, it was a crazy time.

Some of these scams were good – I mean really good. Some were laughable and obvious. But even our team was shocked by the number of attempts we were hit with in the last 2 years. Here’s a few that we saw that were both impressive and outlandish.

Screening Tenants

How to and what to avoid when screening tenants for your rental property.

“I work for a trucking company”

This one at first was hard to spot. It seemed too good to be true the first few times. The applicant would view the property, submit their application almost immediately and give us the whole story.

“I work for a trucking company so I’m on the road a lot. I dont have any pets, its just me that will be in the home. You wont have to worry about damages, I’m only there a few days a week. I can pay the first 6 months up front. I need to move in immediately.”

How ideal! Upfront rent, no pets, hardly there, this is amazing! And on paper, it really was. Finally, those long-vacant homes will have a resident, and everyone’s happy. WRONG.

If its too good to be true, it usually is. After hearing this same exact story 4 and 5 times over within a short couple of months, it was clear how obvious of a scam this was. But, what about it screams scam? Two things:

  • Their check stubs looked odd.
  • There was no such company registered and the address provided lead to a warehouse or storefront.

What do you mean, check stubs looked odd? Its hard to explain but they looked like something printed and scanned from an old type writer. No consistency in fonts and offered very little information other than the amount of money being paid. And as for the company, a quick search online can give you all the registration information you need on a business. In all of these cases, no such company existed. Funds couldn’t be verified and the applications were denied.

The moral of this rental scam landlords, do your due diligence. Don’t take the perfect application at face value. More importantly, don’t look at large lump sums of cash upfront as a good thing. It’s odd and could leave you fighting to evict this seemingly perfect tenant.

Whats The Cost?

See what property managers charge to manage your rental home.

“I just got a new job at Wells Fargo”

This one was good and if it hadn’t have happened by two different applicants within the same week, this would have been easy to miss.

This scam is one of our personal favorites. Each time the applicant was moving from somewhere outside of Raleigh and was relocating. They were always too far away to view the home but were willing to sign the sight-unseen disclosure. In the tail end of COVID, this was still pretty normal.

“I just submitted my application. I attached my current jobs check stubs and my offer letter from Wells Fargo for my new job that I’m transferring to. I’d like to move in as soon as possible”

Again, another ideal situation. Wells Fargo is a big company and it makes sense that they’d be hiring with the real estate boom. The catch, both of these applicants had no idea they were turning in the same offer letter to two different homes.

I won’t lie, it took a team of managers a few days to confirm this scam. The offer letter looked legit. The new salary qualified them for the home. Immediate move-in. Any landlord would want this tenant asap without much thought. So what made this scream scam?

  • Both letters had two different positions but listed the same salary to the dollar.
  • Both letters only included the first page which we found an exact copy of on Google.
  • One applicant forgot that she used the “hiring manager’s” contact information as her emergency contact information and stated her emergency contact was her friend.

Once we saw that the entire office had a good laugh. And when we called the hiring manager, the final straw on that camel’s back was the lack of any sort of Wells Fargo phone greeting, she instantly knew both new employees, and confirmed information we hadn’t even requested or asked for.

It’s not often a landlord will pay attention to an applicant’s emergency contact so this could have easily been missed. And as I said, it took a team of managers to digest this scam. If we wouldnt have caught it, neither applicant would have met the income limits needed and we would have been forced to evict during a time when evictions were still on hold.

We saw this rental scam play out a couple more times over the last year and know its still floating around. Landlords, take your time reviewing applications. Every detail tells a story.

Rental Scams Never End

With rental rates still out of reach for many and hidden poor rental history floating around, renters are finding smarter ways to beat the system. The advancement in AI today is making it even easier.

Rent scammers are looking for large homes they can sublet out to others to make some extra cash. Sometimes its used as an AirBnB, a party house, and we’ve seen it – drug smuggling. It’s not a pretty world to be in so avoiding these scams should be a top priority for any landlord. The first step in combating this is pricing your home appropriately. Price it too low and you’ll drown in scams and bad applications. Too high and you might be waiting a while.

Feel like you can handle the day-to-day management but want to avoid weeding through scams and applications, we’ll do the messy part for you while you do the rest. Check out our DIY landlord package where we market, screen, and provide you with everything you need to success.

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