Why Tenants Lie on Applications – Sniffing Out the Truth

Why Tenants Lie on Applications, and How Tenant Screening Sniffs out the Truth

Everyone sometimes "spins" a story to shed a positive light on themselves, their choices and actions. However, some people go too far and morph the truth into a gross exaggeration or lie. Landlords who fail to catch these misrepresentations are setting themselves up for bad tenants and big headaches.

Normally, potential tenants stretch or fabricate information because of a past issue they think hinders their ability to rent a property. This is why tenant screening services are vital to landlords when choosing the best tenants. Here are five reasons why tenants lie on applications, and how tenant screening helps sniff out the truth:

"My credit is great!"

Many times, applicants lie about their credit rating because they know the importance of proving a history of paying their bills. After all, if they avoided meeting their financial responsibilities in the past, why would a landlord believe they would pay on time, now?

Smart landlord fix: Part of any good tenant screening process is a thorough review of the applicant's credit report. Analyze his payment habits, paying special attention to how recently he was late on any bills. Issues within the last six months need to be analyzed critically.

Also look at his debt. A large amount of monthly payments, especially when compared against his monthly income, signals rough waters ahead when trying to get your rent.

"I have no criminal history."

Applicants with past arrests and convictions sometimes choose to gloss over that unsavory part of their lives so that they don't have to offer the details of their past indiscretions.

Smart landlord fix: While criminal history alone doesn't need to be a reason to automatically rule out renting to an applicant, landlords need this information in order to make a fully informed, smart, safe decision. A key component of tenant screening services is a criminal history search. It's a good best practice to pull a county criminal search from the counties the applicant has lived and worked over the last seven years. Look for recent convictions, and take special note of violent crimes, as these could signal someone who is dangerous and unstable, and poses potential risk to other tenants.

"My employment record is strong and consistent."

Meeting monthly rent takes a stable income, and renters know this. That is why, many times, applicants lie about how much money they make or having a job at all. Choosing renters that end up falling short of the income it takes to meet the bills results in landlords waiting for rent past the due date, or getting stuck with no rent.

Smart landlord fix: Employ tenant screening services to perform a thorough employment verification. Third-party screeners are skilled at asking the questions that give you insight as to the potential renter's employment history and level of pay. If discrepancies are found in what the applicant claimed, think long and hard before choosing him as a tenant.

"My current landlord adores me."

Renters frequently boast good will and zero issues with current or past landlords, because it makes them look responsible. While for some, this is truthful, others are completely concocting the positive relationship. Don't be duped into believing the renter's story without corroboration.

Smart landlord fix: Set a standard practice of utilizing tenant screening services to touch base with an applicant's former and current landlords. Ask landlords to return information about the overall opinion of the renter, his payment habits, and how he treated the property. Take the landlord's comments to heart and examine them closely, as this information is crucial in deciding whether or not to rent to an applicant.

"I stay away from illegal drugs."

In general, drugs are detrimental to a person's ability to hold a job, pay the rent, and stay out of trouble. Applicants who use or deal drugs will most likely never admit it to their potential landlord, as they know their application would end up in the trash, immediately.

Smart landlord fix: Always look for drug charges or other evidence of drug use in tenant screening reports. Drug convictions, or reports of drug use by past employers or landlords must be handled with the most serious consideration. Protect your property and the safety of tenants by avoiding renting to those who show signs of drug abuse.

It's no doubt picking the best tenants is a slippery slope. Choosing tenants who will take care of your property, pay their rent on time, and get along with other tenants is crucial to the profitability of your business. By taking steps to avoid the applicants who would pose a risk to this environment, you can maximize the chance of renting to people without dangerous criminal habits or bad financial management. A key aspect of accomplishing this is to partner with an experienced, professional tenant screening company.