Property investors need to increase their vigilance during tough times. While it can cause panic to lose a resident or deal with an empty property during a crisis, relaxing your guard and your screening protocols will only create more problems.
Rental scammers love to use a crisis to take advantage of property owners with a vacancy to fill. We often find that during a down economy, the volume of rental scams increases. Renters that prey on inexperienced (or desperate) property owners can create expensive problems that put you in a worse financial position than dealing with an empty property. When you can't evict a bad renter during a crisis, you're stuck with a problem—indefinitely.
Don't resign yourself to a less-than-ideal renter or being overwhelmed by what might feel like a no-win situation: Salt Lake City property management is here to help! Here's what investors need to keep in mind when screening renters during tough times.
Please note: This article is not intended as a substitute for the great legal advice of a skilled attorney. It's designed to help property owners get a little footing during these troubling times for our community. If you need direct legal counsel, reach out to your allies at Reeder Asset Management!
Professional Scammers Love a Crisis
Discouraged property owners are a prime target for "Serial Squatters." If your resident stopped paying rent or a lease ended without renewal, you have an empty property to fill—and a scammer is more than ready to move in!
- It might be tempting to choose a new renter that seems "okay" on paper.
- Serial Squatters are experts at looking like perfect residents during the application process. They have all of the answers on the application and during an interview.
- They might even have too-good-to-be-believed references—which should be a big red flag to you during the screening process.
These kinds of renters are hard to spot, but that's where the experience of an expert property manager can help save investors from letting these bad renters move into a property.
Remember this general rule of thumb when screening renters: if they seem too good to be true, they probably are! Salt Lake City property management can help you avoid these renters, even when tough times tell you that "any" new resident is better than one more month with no renter at all.
How to Spot a Professional Scammer
A thorough screening process is the best tool to dig beneath a "perfect" application and the put-together appearance of these devious renters. When screening applicants, property owners can look for some tell-tale signs that you're not dealing with an honest, legitimate applicant. Serial Squatters often:
- Pay cash upfront for the application fee, security deposit, and first month's rent. This tactic makes it tempting to approve them to live in your property.
- Make a big show of how much they know about all things rental law. They'll offer insights without prompting, and it's often irrelevant to the interview conversation.
- Provide fake, scripted references. If more than one reference gives you a similar story about the applicant, they were probably coached!
- Have gaps in their rental history and multiple evictions. Running a background check reveals these details that you won't find on the rental application!
Never approve an applicant until a background check supports the information they put on an application. If you're not sure your screening process is thorough enough, let a property manager handle it for you.
Scams Don't fool Property Managers
We've seen (almost) everything! While professional scammers continue to get more creative in the ways they trick property owners, a property manager with a professional screening process can help keep them out of your Salt Lake City property.
Our screening process requires these identifying resources:
- A copy of a driver's license or state-issued ID
- Social Security number
- Date of Birth.
With that information, we conduct a background check that includes:
- A credit summary, including currently and previously delinquent accounts and collections
- Prior rental history, including broken leases, late payments, and evictions
- A thorough credit history review, including a credit score check
- Public records that are available for your applicant
- A Social Security fraud search
- The Sex Offender Registry
- A National Criminal Alias search
- Previous landlord verification
- Employment and income verification
- Pet Screening (for pet-friendly properties).
We leave no detail uncovered as it relates to placing the best-qualified renter in your property. Letting professional Salt Lake City property management screen your residents also helps protect your investment property from lawsuits. We follow all fair housing regulations to avoid discriminatory practices during the screening process.
Don't Let Tough Times Overrule Your Renter Screening Practices!
Scam artists love to take advantage of a crisis. However, property owners must stick to a proven screening process during tough times—or call in the professionals for help!
Reeder Asset Management understands dealing with lost rental income during tough economic times. Instead of relaxing your renter criteria, it's essential to stay strong and hold out for the right residents! Let our team help you keep professional renters out of your Salt Lake City properties—in good times and tough times. We're here to help!
Learn more about how we handle rent collection in a recession with our free Collecting Rent In a Crisis Handbook!