There is a reason you invest so much effort vetting your renters. Your property is valuable and expensive to maintain, so you need to ensure the people inhabiting it are going to treat it respectfully, follow your rules, and pay for it punctually. But if they don’t answer you truthfully when asked, you have a lot at stake figuring out the falsities, so profiling the reasons renters lie can be a helpful tool in strategizing how to spot deceit. Here are some common reasons renters would bend or break the truth:
They want the apartment: Sometimes a prospective tenant sees your property and falls face first in love with the place. They are blinded by their desire and they will say anything that they think you want to hear. Or, if you own or manage a property in a hot market, most prospective tenants will tell you anything you want to hear. Period. It will be especially important to uncover the information you require without relying exclusively on the renter’s word.
They think they won’t get caught: Smoking, for example, is a habit no property manager is ever excited to hear about, so if you ask a renter if she’s a smoker, the answer is going to be “no”. But the renter really considers how often this would be checked, and a well-intentioned liar envisions all the ways she could smoke by windows or vents, despite your objections.
They think the matter at hand actually doesn’t matter: Let’s say you have a strict no-pets policy. Perhaps your tenant thinks his cat is so clean that he is an exception to the rule. It’s the perfect crime, but he actually doesn’t think it’s a crime at all, even if you expressly said so.
They think they can deal with it later: Take delaying the payment of rent. A tenant might give you a plausible reason they can’t pay now, but believe they will be able to cover it later. The tenant could tell you this month involved a big medical expenditure for a sick child out of pocket, but the reality might be a lot less wholesome. Figuring next month’s paycheck will cover both payments, they fib to stall you.
They think it won’t matter by the time they get caught: Ever discovered a reference was fake after your tenant already moved in? Or had more tenants than you bargained for living in spaces not designated as bedrooms? These are only two examples of problems that might arise after you have the tenant already living in your apartment. At this point they know the cost to you to kick them out and start again. They hedge their bets that by the time you wise up, you’ll be too busy to deal with kicking them out. Or maybe they suppose by that time you’ll change your mind about the stipulation and let it slide.
They are a scammer: We live in the real world, so there are those renters that will tie you up in court for years to avoid payment, or those who will disappear in the night after damaging your property and stealing from your assets. Most renters will not be lifetime criminals, but not everyone is Ward and June Cleaver, so this possibility should be in your mind as you protect yourself.