The Easy Lies

It is not uncommon for rental prospects to lie.  This is especially true for the ones that really have something to lie about!  It is exactly these prospects that we as property managers are particularly interested in weeding out.pinnochio

The easy lies are, well, easy to ferret out.  It is the good liars that are trickier.  We usually still get them through some tried-and-true methods we won’t go into here.  But right now we wanted to share some of the more common lies we hear all the time.

Caveat: The prospects you are dealing with will be sure to point out that while the lie may be true for all of the other prospects, it isn’t true for them.  We’ll let you decide that one!

Lie #1 – “It was my roommate’s eviction.”

We hear ths one allll the time: “I was living with a roommate and I had to move and he/she promised to pay the rent but never did and now they are coming after me.”  This can sometimes be qualified with “And now I am paying back every cent to the property manager.”

This lie usually comes with an apartment.  But we’ve also heard it for houses.  We are still waiting to meet one – just one – of those roommates!  To this day no one has come through our doors and said “Yep, it was me!  My roommate moved out on me and I couldn’t afford the place so I just stopped paying the rent.”

But the other issue we have with this lie is this: Does the prospect not understand his/her obligation under the lease?  Because if they did then they would have found a roommate to take over their part of the lease or otherwise negotiated something else.

More than likely, though, something happened with one or both of them and they failed to honor their obligation.  For us, it is guilty by association.

Lie #2 – “My dog/cat is house trained and never makes a mess.”

Again, we have never had a prospect show up to a showing and say “My dog/cat pees all over the place and is uncontrollable.”  Occasionally they will proffer that their dog does like to bark, but that is the extent of it. 

The only way through this lie is previous landlords.  And that is a whole different lie that needs to be checked.  (We blogged previously about this.)  You have to make sure there is no application fraud going on in the form of the prospect putting their best friend down as a fake landlord.

Lie #3 – “I want to be perfectly honest with you.  My credit is not all that good.”

This isn’t a total lie.  They ARE being perfectly honest with you (usually).  Where this becomes deceptive is the attempt to build trust with the words “I want to be perfectly honest with you.”  Really?  How else were you planning to be with me?  Dishonest?

But really, they know as well as you that they don’t really have an option other than being “perfectly honest” because if you do your background check like you are supposed to then you are going to uncover all the dirt on them anyhow!

Usually when we hear these words (and the other lies) our antenna go up and we are put on alert that this prospect or prospects may not be the type of renter we are looking for.


For more information on screening tenants, visit  Peter Nelson is President of Full Service Property Management of Seattle, WA – a leading property management company of homes, apartments, townhomes, and condos..  He has been leasing residential property for over 28 years.  Their website is

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