Hey Everyone,
We finally found a good deal on a house that we can live in and fix up.
I plan to tell you about it more later when I have more time.
So now we are trying to rent out our old house. This will be our first landlording experience and already it has been an experience.
We have had several people come by and look, a few say they are coming and not show up, several take applications to never call back, and a few apply with bad credit that we have had to turn down, And NOW… we have people lying on their application. Ok, to get to my question.
We have a couple who appeared to be the perfect tenants. Older couple with no kids, no pets, say they have good rental history, and ask if they can plant flowers and roses, and even grass in the yard. Sounds like the perfect tenant to take good care of the house if they only qualify.
Well, turns out they flat out lied on their application. They gave the same landlord for the last two houses they rent, they gave us the address of a house they don’t even live in. The credit report was fairly good and panned out as they said. However, when calling the previous landlord things sounded a little fishy. We went on the yellow pages and found a different address to go with the phone number they had been calling us from. We drove by that duplex only to find them sitting on the porch with both of their cars sitting in the driveway. Turns out the current address they gave us along with the landlord is a hoax. We looked up the owners to the house they are living in and have a call into them to see what we can find out. Looks like they flat out lied about where they live now and where they have been living the last 4 years. So my questions are … (to finally get to the point)… Isn’t this fraud? Isn’t this illegal? Can’t they go to jail for this? Can I or should I call the police and report them or a District Attorney? What do I do? Should I just let it go? Is this worth pursuing?
As far as I am concerned this is a criminal act and they should be prosecuted? Please, any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Gary and Christine
Arlington, TX

:frowning: ???

Howd Gary and Christine:

You guys are really smart for doing all the background checking on your prospective tenants. I am always leary when they say they are going to plant flowers and fix up the place.

It is fraud however I bet you the DA will do nothing. Plus the time you would have to spent in court testifying would not be worth your while. Try reporting them to credit bureaus and tenant reporting agencies. You could sue for and fraud in small claims court if you were monetarily damaged but You were probably not and here again too much time in court. Stay out of court and live longer.

Are you getting application fees? This will in itself weed out some of the hardcore liars.

Great job on finding out about them. The internet and online tenant agencies etc are making it harder for these folks to keep on scaming.

Thanks Ted for the reply.
We did get a call back from the owner of the property and their real landlord. He says , yes they do rent from him and he would pay us for taking them from him. Says they are no renters he would want anyone to have. Well, all I can say is Thank God we found them out before we rented to them. I guess I should just let it go and keep searching for some good renters, if there are any. Not having much luck so far.
Thanks again for your response.
oh, we are charging a $30 application fee per applicant.
Gary and Christine

I have a potential tenant,no good credit but currently has a good paid job and willing to have a co-signer (her dad) who has very good credit history-to gurantee her rental if she fails to pay.

I check her info on previous landlord and receive good feedback that she pays on time. so also her employer gives good report.

Any comment if this is going to be a good tenant?


Howdy Austin01:

You have learned a lot so far on tenant screening. You are doing more than I did while I was a landlord. My slackness is part of the reason I did so poorly. Keep up the good screening. I was dealing in low income property and my theory was that if they had great credit and loads of cash and income they would not be wanting to live in my property. I should have still tried to pick the best of the weak applicants.

Right now as you know the Austin market is a little soft and you may not do better for another month and that would cost you another payment. Probably best to accept her especially with dad cosigning.

One thought that I remember hearing or reading is that it is always best to check the previous landlord and not just the current one. The current LL might tell lies to try to get rid of horrible tenants.

Gary and Christine,

They lied, it is not a criminal offense(only to the government as Martha found out). The police and DA don’t care.

It may not help you with this one but you might want to look up We have a landlording innercircle and go over applications, screening, contracts, taxes, evictions. etc that relate to landlording.

As far as the courts are concerned, there is no fraud unless they get the apartment. Then you are up the creek without the ole paddle.

Better to check them out and understand that every renter lies. Your job is to find the lies and see if you can make a profit on this liar.

If you have good rules and follow them closely. You can make money on a lot of liars.

P.S. Get a cold chill down your spine if you hear a renter start talking about them doing repairs, planting, painting, pastors, church or God. That is when they are starting to sell you a pile a BULL!

Good renters talk about rent, due dates, move in dates, deposits or lowering the rent.

So far you have been doing the right thing and thats why you were been able to find them out before it was too late. Not all renters are liars, not all people with bad credit are dead beat tenants and people with great credit aren’t always good tenants. In NY in order for rental arrears to be placed on a credit report you have to get a judgement in court so lots of landlords don’t feel it is worth it. In my office we check the tenants rental history for the past 10 years even if they were underage we still speak to the landlord about what type of tenants they were. We also do a home visit which will let you see what type of damage they have done to the apartment they live in, you can’t hide holes in the wall, roaches or broken appliances. And last time I checked telling a lie to get an apartment isn’t a crime.

Home visit, the best plan a landlord can have. I think a home visit tells you just as much as a credit report.

How do you arrange a home visit without offending your potential renter? I always tell them I have another appointment and I ask can I stop by later and pick up the application after they have had time to complete it. Nobody gets mad when you offer a free pickup service.

Just tell them that the home visit is required, all they can do is clean up but they can’t hide the real damage. If they say no then they don’t want the apartment and they have something to hide. If you aren’t direct you might not get into the apartment at all. They want something from you, something that is valuable to you only, they can move on any day, you are stuck with that property until you can unload it. It is your investment you are putting up so do what you need to insure that you take care of your investment.

Credit reports mean nothing really. The character of a person can only be told by asking others that know the people you are screening. As far as credit report goes, I wouldnt bother. This has been my experience

I have to disagree, the credit report is most important. I run a credit report on everyone. I think a look at the last house is just as important as a good credit report. The credit report will let you know if they don’t pay anyone on the credit report what makes you think they will pay you.

I have seen so many landlords do credit reports and ignore the results and rent to poor paying tenants anyway. You have to rely on your feeling but you have to also rely on the facts and the credit report is a fact.

Things got much better for me when I started using credit reports, I have been chasing renters for 20 years.

My response to the Credit report is this. Both me and my wife had excellent credit for 20 plus years both had 740 plus beacon scores until I opened a Resturant. We now are in Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the only thing we have managed to keep is our house. So credit reports will tell you some things but they don’t tell the whole story. My house has managed to stay current even with me not being employed. I am currently a partner in another startup business that does well one month and nothing the next. So by all means check credit scores but do an investigation of why also.

Happy Hunting

tenants are crafty at times. I showed a property to a nice couple. The lady was alot younger than her spouse. They introduced themselves as engaged to be married one month after the lease began.
The lady tenant admitted she had very bad credit and her spouse had fairly descent credit. I decided to rent to them after considering both credit worthiness.

A month into the lease I get a repair call from the lady tenant. I ask her how’s her spouse doing and she replies we are no longer together and he moved out a week ago.

Right then and only then did it dawn on me that they were never a couple. I had some reservations about how much older he was than she but that was none of my business. Had she applied alone I would certainly not have rented to her based on her credit-wothiness.

my point is sometimes you have to use your gut because things are not always how they appear.
Fortunately she is paying on time on her own. If she continues to pay on time I will re-new her lease.

I consider myself a good judge of character but that one went straight pass me.


I like to look at credit histroy, length of employment and length of time at past residences. That coupled with a persons occupation can tell a lot.

In general, big negatives are 1) self-employed in the trades 2) frequent job and/or residence changes 3) high credit card debit 4) high income with low credit score.

Basically, I want to see that the person has a steady income and some basic level of ability to handle money. If your tenant has unstable income, you can bet on having problems getting paid for rent. Likewise, people with poor money judgement (i.e. high income, low income or massive CC debit) are much more likely to blow the rent money on something stupid.

Also checking two landlords back in very helpful

The credit report can tell you a lot more then one would think.
If you have a tennent that has a lot of medical collections then you may not have a big deal on your hands, however if you have someone that has not paid there blockbuster bill and there is a huge collection for the cable bill and other basic things then it may show you that they just can’t manage money. The other thing that we look at is the amount of revolving availability vs the balances.
If you have a renter that has 10,000 available in credit cards and there balance is only 1000 then they are not maxing out ther credit cards. If you have someone that has 10,000 in total revolving available and they owe 9900 you can see that they are struggling for some reason.
I would agree that the score is not always a tell tale sign of weather you will get paid on time but if you look a little deeper you can usually figure out whats really going on with them.
Take Care

First…A backround check is mandatory and at least a $30 credit check to see if they have a decent payment history.

Second…Once you run into a problem or find something you’re not comfortable with - MOVE ON TO THE NEXT

Third…Who knows what these people have been through, maybe they have been victims to a bad landlord or had some unexpected financial burdens in the past that make it hard for them to comply with all of your expectations.
What I’m getting at is that you should be spending your time finding a tenant - Not being lashing out at someone who just needs a place to live. These people might be good people, if you asked them the right questions I’m sure you might come to understand their situation.