As a landlord operating many rental units for over a decade, I have seen all manner of lies on rental applications.
One of the most common things that tenants tend to lie about is their income.
While I would never encourage anyone to lie on their rental application, it happens more than you think and I just thought it would be interesting to see what these creative, but dishonest tenants are doing to snag that coveted rental.
In this article, I am going to cover 5 of the most deceptive tricks I have seen tenants use to lie about their income.
Again, if you are a tenant, use these tricks at our own risk because landlords can be pretty savvy about sniffing out fakes. And if they find out that you lied on your application, it may be grounds for eviction (at least that’s what my lease says).
Ok, enough with the preaching. Let’s get into it!
1. Fake Income Stubs
With today’s technology, it is a simple matter to generate a convincing looking paystub that has false information about your income. There are also a ton of companies online that will create paystubs for you. Just google “fake paystubs” and you’ll see a ton of offerings.
As you can imagine, a fake paystub can be handy if you are set on deception because most landlords will insist on seeing a copy of the latest paystubs from the tenant’s employer as part of their verification process.
If a landlord is lazy about vetting his applications (and does not confirm employment and income by actually calling the employer), he may fall for this fake paystub.
2. Asking a Friend to Act as The Employer
As I mentioned earlier, landlords use several strategies to confirm employment and income. Asking for a paystub is one of them, but they may also want to talk with your employer (or boss) to confirm that you work at the company and get paid what you are telling the landlord you earn.
To thwart this, some tenants provide a fake number that goes to their buddy and when the landlord calls, the friend confirms the tenant’s employment and income. It’s pretty slick and some landlords will fall for this if they are not careful.
3. Claiming Self-Employed Status
Some tenants will tell the landlord that they operate a business (could be an online or freelance business) so there is no paystub to give. In that case, a landlord may ask for a tax return or bank statements showing income from the business to verify that the tenants is making enough money to qualify for the rental.
Of course, these things are easy to fake as well, especially if the landlord is simply looking for a copy of those documents and not insisting on you signing in to your account in person (or over video) and showing them your screen.
4. Using an Offer Letter
Some tenants who don’t feel confident about forging paystubs and the like may simply tell their landlord that they were recently offered a new job and will volunteer to show them the offer letter. An offer letter includes salary information, so it can be a somewhat reliable verification of income if it is genuine.
But these letters are really easy to forge (all you need is some letterhead of the company that you are claiming to work for). You can create fake company letterheads by downloading their logo and printing it on a piece of paper with the company’s address.
Plus you can make the phone number of the hiring officer on the letter a friend’s number, so when the landlord calls to verify, they can lie on the tenant’s behalf.
5. Targeting “Mom and Pop” Landlords
Sometimes, it’s not about what you do, but who you do it to.
Crafty tenants who are determined to lie about their income will often target individual landlords and avoid large professional apartment complexes. That’s because many of these smaller landlords don’t have the same rigorous vetting procedures as the big apartments.
They may be more desperate to fill the vacancy because they have to make the mortgage payment, so they will take shortcuts when it comes to verifying income and won’t dig as deep or check as hard.
Many of these tricks won’t work against an apartment manager who does this for a living and reviews hundreds of applications per year. A mom and pop operator with only a single rental may only see a handful of applications over the course of several years. Hence, they are more likely to fall for some of these deceptions.
So there you have it – 5 sneaky ways to lie about your income to your landlord.
As I stated at the outset, this is just what I have seen people try to do and it is certainly not an endorsement of these activities.
You should be honest and try to find an apartment that is in line with your financial condition, not try to lie your way into a place you can’t afford.
Over the long term, it will work out better because you won’t be constantly stressed about making your rent (plus you’ll sleep better at night knowing you aren’t lying your way through life).