People who believe they would not qualify to rent a home as themselves have an incentive to pretend they are someone else in order to qualify for a lease. This could include people with poor credit, convicted felons and other sorts of criminals, and people with prior evictions, repossessions, and foreclosures on their personal record. After trying, and failing, to find a place to rent a few times, they may pretend to be someone else to make the whole process easier. Because of this, you should always ask for ID when screening tenants. Every time. Without fail.
Social media has opened up a new world of ways to access people’s personal information and build new identities. Thieves can sift through garbage and have been known to reassemble shredded personal papers all in an attempt to ‘steal’ someone’s identity and pose as someone other than themselves. More likely, however, are the ‘lazier’ scammers who will just borrow a buddy’s ID and pawn it off as his own. Renting to someone posing as someone else is not good for a number of reasons. Most notably, having someone living in the house who is not legally on the lease is a recipe for all types of trouble. You need to protect yourself. You need to ask for ID when screening tenants.
Have the tenant scan and email you a copy of their driver’s license, or make a copy of it yourself if meeting them in person. And, this should go without saying, but make sure the person on the driver’s license is the person you are renting to. Make sure the ID appears legitimate. If it looks at all doubtful or altered, ask for a second form of ID. If they have no license, ask for some other form of State-issued identification, military identification, passport, etc. In this day and age it is difficult for anyone to not have some form of photo ID. In fact, I would recommend passing on renting to anyone who didn’t (or told you they didn’t) have some form of ID.
If something rubs you the wrong way about the applicant, or if part of their story aren’t matching up with what you are finding in during your tenant screening, ask for supporting documentation. Pay stubs, utility bills, bank and insurance statements are all excellent forms of additional support that should have the applicants name on them. Most of these should be easy to get from the tenant with no problem.
You DO NOT want to have someone living in your property that is not legally on the lease. Protect yourself and always check ID’s. At Central Florida Property Management, we ALWAYS do. Should you ask for ID when screening tenants? Always! Or, you could just let us do it for you. 🙂
For more info, check out this tour-de-force of tenant screening on Biggerpockets.com and check out our other blogs on the subject.