I have been in leasing mode for the last 60 days. Most of these properties are in North Minneapolis for my Rental Management Guys customers. In just the last 5 days, I have received 5 applications for 3 houses. When I receive multiple applications for the same home, I review the applications and move ahead with the one that I feel is the strongest (longest rental history, most income, etc).
Unfortunately, 3 out of the 5 applications had given false information. One of the biggest areas that I find applicants omitting or providing false information is in their rental history. They write in a friend or family member’s name and contact information. I call the “landlord” and they give me a glowing report about that applicant. I am sorry, but I can maybe count on one hand the number of glowing referrals I would be willing to give my tenants. Not that my previous tenants are mostly all bad, but everyone is late on a payment or annoys the neighbor or leaves the place with something for me to repair.
One easy way to validate if the “landlord” you are speaking to is truly the landlord is to look on the tax records. Is the name of the person on the tax records the same as the application? You may be able to Google the owner’s name and find their contact information and call them. If you are in the City of Minneapolis, you can look up the rental license and it has both a name and phone number.
This week the apartment building handyman pretended to be the landlord. I found the true owner who had self-managed this building for the last 17 years and he and I laughed at how his employee was trying to claim to be the landlord to help his friend.
In another case, it was this applicant’s friend’s mom. The applicant didn’t explain that she was living with a friend and her mom and so the mom was simply a tenant. Ironically, this building is managed by a friend of mine, so I got on the phone and quickly figured out the situation.
And in another it was some unknown person who the true owner had never heard of. I figured this out, as again, I checked the rental records which showed a different name. I contacted that person and he said that he had never heard of that tenant. I contacted the tenant and told her I was denying her application for providing false information. She proceeded to have the person that she put on the application call me and claim that he was not the landlord, but the property manager and I had made a mistake! I very quickly explained to him that I spoke to the real owner and he didn’t know either the applicant or this “property manager”. The “property manager” said they would sort it out and have the owner call me to validate everything. I am still waiting!
If I am suspicious when speaking to the “landlord”, I will often ask them questions that I know the answer to such as: “when did the tenant move out” or “how much was the rent” or “how long have you owned the property” or “whats your mailing address on your tax bill”. Even the best liars may not know all these details.
These simple techniques will help you quickly find problem tenants. Obviously they are trying to hide a problem in their past.