This is a guest post provided by our partner ApplyConnect, -experts in tenant screenings and background checks.

The internet is a bizarre thing. It’s a place for creativity, community outreach, and familial connection. It answers questions with great detail, truth, wisdom, and just as much fabrication as truth. Absolutely everything is on the internet. If you want to know why it’s called Donkey Kong when the character is an ape, there’s an answer. If you want to know what curse is written on Shakespeare’s gravestone, there’s an answer. If you want to know how much it costs to create a penny, there’s an answer. If you want to know how to fake references, fake paystubs, and cheat your way into getting a rental home, there’s an answer.

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The thing about having a search engine like Google is that, excluding debates on the digital divide, anyone can ask anything. Your renters can ask anything that might put you at a disadvantage. You need to ask yourself: what might Google be teaching your applicants?

Fake Paystubs

From a landlord’s perspective, it generally does not make sense. The first thought might be, why would someone want an apartment that they cannot afford? Are they ever so desperate to go in the red? Who wants the stress of watching their rainy-day fund dwindle? Or maybe some people don’t have the financial education to alert them that they can’t afford your property, and they believe they would be fine. Sometimes, logic is flawed with its singular outlook on life.

The phrase “Fake Paystubs” is a popular keyword search, and that could be for any reason. Maybe someone is desperate and needing somewhere to stay because a month’s rent is at least less expensive than a month in a hotel. They could be planning to find somewhere more in their price range, and in the meantime, wherever they land is better than nowhere at all. Perhaps it’s someone who just wants to taste ‘the high life’ for the experience, to see what they could get if they work hard. There’s always the obvious, less kind reason that they just aren’t that smart about what they can afford, and of course, some places like Waffle House might pay them in cash with a less fond paystub. 

Other jobs pay in cash as well and have no paystub at all. The tenant may perform work that could afford the rent, but it won’t leave a paper trail if it’s illegal work. Your applicants have a few reasons why they might want a fake paystub, and while those reasons may not be ‘good’, the end result will be the same. 

Fake Support Animals

“Fake emotional support animal” is a search term that tends to spike with the rental season. One might begin to wonder, does that have anything to do with the rental season? How many applicants are trying to figure out how to weasel their furry besties into a pet-free zone?

Telling landlords that their pretty kitty is an emotional support animal when it is not has become an increasingly tricky situation property operators are finding themselves in. As more people decided to do it, the rest of society became more vocal and labeled the action as entitled and harmful to those with a real need. Unfortunately, that isn’t stopping some people from figuring out how to force their pets onto rental properties with no-pet policies. On the bright side, it is just as easy to arm yourself against such lies! Some states are creating their own defenses against fake support animals. In 2020, Florida classified such actions as a misdemeanor and punishable offense, and it is not the only one. 

Reference Lies

Plenty of people have had this little stray thought go through their head – especially when you haven’t had the experience it takes to get a job in the first place. Where exactly is a sophomore supposed to get two years of experience for an entry-level job, anyway? ‘Fake references’ is a search just as popular, if not more so, than fake paystubs. While not everyone acts on this little curiosity, there are a lot of people wondering how they could. Maybe they just have concerns because they didn’t get along with their last landlord, or maybe it’s the first time trying to rent at all. Who knows? There may be suggested questions to ask someone pretending to be a landlord, or you could even find the people offering this as their service. Your research can lead you to ways to spot a fake reference, just in case you ever have to. 

One of the downsides of having Google around is that your applicants might use it to cheat their way around the system. On the upside, you can use it just the same as they do. You can check their references with specific questions and data to ascertain their validity, use tenant screening to verify the information that they give you, and cross reference their business details to make sure everything is in good form. At the end of the day, no matter what Google teaches your applicants, you can still feel optimistic about which one you pick to be your renter.

What are you researching to stay ahead? Let us know in the comments!

PayRent is on a mission to build a rent collection app that fosters a positive and productive relationship between renters and landlords. We focus less on transactions and more on the people behind them.