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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 tough. After all, the burden is on the landlord or property owner to validate that the tenant has honestly represented themselves. Sad to say, a few tenants will utilize 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, it’s necessary to do your due diligence and closely examine every detail of their application. You can start by learning about some of the most familiar ways applicants may misrepresent information and how to spot them.

Fake Landlord and References

Renters assume 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 a poor rental history, they may attempt to engage you with fake references.

On some occasions, this could be a friend or family member they’ve asked to pose as an Arlington property manager or reference. But it could also be a professional service they’ve hired. Depending on the service, these can look very convincing unless you are double-checking the whole thing.

Fake Employment Info

This is particularly applicable to an applicant’s employment or income information. Tenants may try to overstate their income to help them qualify for a better rental home, and some of the tactics applied can be quite complicated. Some tenants may go so far as to fabricate pay stubs using online pay stub generators to “prove” their income.

To avoid being fooled by fake employment info, be sure to cross-reference anything they put on their application with the information on their credit report. There are several red flags you can look for, including round numbers, inconsistencies, and a lack of professional appearance.

Lies About Criminal History

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

While a quality background check can be pricey, a good Arlington property management company will be able to provide 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

Another common way for the applicant to fake a rental application is by delivering a fake social security number or one that belongs to a child or family member. There are multiple reasons why this could be the situation. The person may 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 more effortless. If the credit history is blank or has almost nothing on it, the likelihood is that the social security number is either fake or belongs to a child and not the applicant. It’s also imperative to keep an eye out for inconsistencies, and if something seems off, do some more digging.


One of the quickest means to protect you from getting duped by a fake rental application is to employ Real Property Management Meridian 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.