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Landlords Beware: 8 Ways a Tenant Can Scam You

Tenant scams are everywhere, and they happen most often to landlords who do not follow a strict screening process. While the rental world is fun and profitable, it doesn’t come without risks. Sometimes a landlord thinks that he isn’t vulnerable to scam artists but everybody is.

Landlord Prep shares eight common rental scams that you need to be aware of. (Note: We previously wrote about potential tenant scams but this post offers additional examples.)

8 Common Tenant Scams

1. The person who signed your contract isn’t the one who’ll be living in your property

So someone got interested in the rental and signed the lease. But prior to that, the “potential renter” brought someone with him to take a look at the unit and it seems that the other person is the one making the final decision.

2. Some of your appliances or things disappeared

People who are out to scam landlords pretend to be renters only to steal from the unit. Recently, we shared about a tenant that was caught digging $300 worth of plants that the landlord just added. The tenant intended to sell the plants.

3. Frequent excuses about late rental payments

There are a hundred of excuses that a tenant can make to avoid paying the rent. You’ll hear common phrases such as, “I lost my job,” “I got robbed,” “I became a victim of identity theft,” or “I’m going through a divorce.”

4. The tenant is excited to move in and pays the first few months of rent in advance

To some landlords, a tenant who’s in a hurry to move in and offers a large amount of cash to cover months of rent doesn’t ring a bell. Review how much a tenant makes in a month to see if there are inconsistencies. Is there a possibility that you’re dealing with a criminal?

5. Blaming others to hide bad behavior

Does a tenant seem to put the blame on his previous landlords, roommates, and others to explain a bad credit or cashflow problems? If so, this is a problem tenant. Tenants should be honest about a situation and not try to avoid responsibility.

6. Enlisting the help of a friend to pose as the previous landlord

Potential tenants who’ve had problems with their previous landlords may ask their friend to pretend to be the landlord. That friend is provided all the details about the previous rental like the address, amount of rent, and more.

7. Lying about co-tenants

Make sure that you state in the lease that all names of those who’ll be living in your property should be mentioned. Some tenants do not mention a co-tenant whom they’ll like to live with them because the person has bad credit or criminal history.

8. Tenants hide the need for repairs upon moving out

A tenant may deceive a landlord by hiding cracks, electrical problems, and stains using DIY methods prior to moving out. Documenting everything in your rental right from the start helps you spot hidden issues. Always conduct a move-out inspection.


Not everyone who’s interested in your rental is trying to scam you. But keep in mind that scams happen anytime. With that, always protect yourself. Do not speed things along - take time to screen a tenant. Verify everything the tenant puts in the application - from credit-worthiness to previous address to employment.

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