In a previous post, I discussed the ease of getting a fake credit report and why you should always run your own screening reports for rental applicants. Credit reports are not the only fake documents that are readily available online. Fake pay stubs are also easily available for under $10.00.
It only takes a few minutes to generate a fake pay stub and they can look very authentic. If the rent is $1200 per month and you require a 3-1 income to rent ratio, no problem. The applicant can simply generate pay stubs showing income of $3600 per month or more regardless of what they make.
Income is obviously one of the more important requirements when considering a tenant. Lack of sufficient income will typically result non-payment of rent and ultimately in an eviction.
Fortunately there are a number of steps you can take to verify an applicant’s pay stub information.
- Take a close look at the deduction amounts. Calculate them to see if they make sense and are in-line with the state where they work. City and state tax rates are readily accessible on line.
- Ask for bank statements that correspond with the dates of the paystubs to see that the money was actually deposited into their account.
- Look at eviction and credit reports to see if there are any anomalies.
Some resources suggest contacting employers to verify the income. I do not recommend this, as many employers will not provide that information. Some larger corporations that do, will outsource the service to a third party which can charge up to $25. With the steps I outlined you should be able to get verified income without the significant time and effort required to contact the employer.
The best way to incorporate these steps into your application process is to use a online rental application and background screening program. An applicant completing a TenantMagic application give permission for the agent or owner to ask for information such as bank statements in addition to the credit, eviction and criminal information pulled from the bureaus.
TenantMagic www.tenantmagic.net comprehensive application and tenant screening at no cost to offers real estate agents, property managers and landlords. Applicants pay the fee.
Jay Apple is co-founder of TenantMagic, LLC www.tenantmagic.net