Managing rental property can be a stressful undertaking. The last thing you need is to add problems caused by dishonest tenants into the equation. Being aware of a few common scams can help you prevent them from occurring. It can also help you spot the signs of a scam in the early stages.


One common scam occurs when the renter tries to pay with a check that is more than the amount of rent that is due. They will then request that the landlord return the additional amount in cash. The landlord does so, then finds out that the check has been forged or is otherwise invalid. The landlord has not only lost a month’s worth of rent, but they have also lost the amount of money that they “refunded” to the tenant.

Subletting Scam

The subletting scam is one that severely impacts multiple victims. During this scam, the “tenant” procures a rental agreement. They often will pay rent for several months and then the rent checks just stop coming. When the landlord goes by the property to find out why checks aren’t being sent, they find a renter they have never met before.

During this scam, the tenant has pretended to be the landlord and “rented” the property out to another individual. They usually will ask for 6 months of rent, then disappear. The unsuspecting renter is out of a significant amount of money and the landlord loses out on money as well. Furthermore, the renter may not want to stay on in a property that they feel they had already paid rent for, so the landlord may have an unexpected vacancy.

Hiding Damage

Hiding damage prior to moving out is one way that renters scam landlords. There are many tricks that renters use to hide damage. These can be things like turning off the water to prevent exposure of plumbing leaks or using toothpaste to cover chips in the paint. Ensure that you inspect the property carefully before the tenant moves out.


Some tenants may not even provide the first month’s rent payment. In some cases, the dishonest tenant has secured the rental agreement in order to steal the appliances within. This is one of the reasons that background checks are so important.