Property management can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience, often presenting unique challenges. Aside from advertising vacancies, vetting tenants, and preparing lease agreements, property managers are responsible for repair and maintenance issues, rent collection, and record keeping. Navigating issues that pop up along the way is certainly part of the terrain, but falling prey to rental scams shouldn’t be.
Although it’s important to be aware of rental scams, don’t let your fear of fraudsters prevent you from adopting new technology tools. Sensors, keyless locks, and self-guided property tours will protect your assets and those who use them and deter criminals from committing fraudulent activities. Here are a few things to know and do to prevent scamming at your single and multi-family residential properties.
Although you may be frightened to hand over control and safety to an automated process, self-guided property tours are increasingly the preferred method for touring properties. To stay competitive, it’s a service you should consider offering. Beyond convenience, self-guided tours offer a level of security difficult to surpass, particularly with BeHome247’s quad-authenticated identity solution.
Prospects simply schedule a tour at one of your single or multi-family units whenever convenient. They then undergo a registration process, which includes uploading a copy of their driver’s license, passport, or government-issued identification along with credit card information. This process secures the visit and validates their identity. Upon arrival, they simply follow prompts from the text or email received during registration and then take a selfie to confirm identification, a major deterrent for scammers who don’t want to reveal their identity. The technology can even discern the difference between a live selfie and a photo upload, another tremendous benefit. Prospects then tour the property within the designated time parameters, securing the door as they exit. Even if the prospect forgets, the door will automatically lock after a preset number of minutes at the scheduled end of the tour, securing the property and its contents.
Although BeHome247’s self-guided tours offer tremendous safeguards, it’s incumbent upon property managers to do everything possible to safeguard their properties to prevent damage caused by scams. Be aware of multiple viewings from a prospect on the same day or tours that end just minutes after they start. This behavior can sometimes indicate potential criminal activity and alert you that a scam may be underway.
Another popular scam involves copying property images and information from a legitimate rental listing, creating a fraudulent copy online, then advertising the property at a significantly reduced rate. Luring prospects desperate for a good deal, the scammer collects deposits, application fees, or rental payments from unsuspecting renters in advance. Then they disappear, never to be seen again.
It’s imperative to periodically go online and confirm all third-party property listing sites you’re using are legitimate. Aside from different pricing and contact information, poorly written listings with grammatical errors are quick indicators of a fraudulent listing. Watermarking photos before uploading them can help prevent scammers from illegally posting the property as their own. Consistent branding, maintaining a solid digital presence, and linking all properties to your business website will help prospects differentiate between fake and genuine listings.
Although the best way to deter criminals is to maintain a physical presence at your property, it’s not always possible, particularly if you’re managing multiple assets. Scheduling regular walk-throughs and periodic check-ins can often reveal problem areas that might require additional security measures.
Pruning bushes and shrubs will eliminate hiding spots for perpetrators, and ensuring all exterior lighting is in proper working order can limit foul play. Aside from reducing slips, trips, and falls, a well-lit property will keep criminals at bay while ensuring tenants are safe and secure. Installing additional lighting in pathways, stairs, and porches will prove beneficial, and visible alarms, motion sensors, deadbolts, and recording devices can also play a significant role in crime prevention. Employee uniforms will help distinguish your staff from potential scammers and also go a long way toward building trust between your staff, tenants, and prospects. If accustomed to seeing easily identifiable employees, tenants can also be on the lookout for questionable characters and malicious activities.
Another red flag is when prospects overpay their security deposit or application fee, typically using a cashier’s check or money order. They then ask for a refund for the excess, and it’s only later you find out from your bank that the original payment was fraudulent. The best thing to do in these instances is to simply stop payment on the check and request a new one in the correct amount. Posting signs in high-traffic areas indicating wire transfers are unacceptable throughout your properties can also be beneficial.
Awareness of scams can keep you one step ahead of unlawful activity, but diligence is critical to mitigating fraudulent behavior. Creating a framework for managing fraud prevention and implementing the proper security measures can make all the difference. With some forethought, a few preventative measures, and the right technology tools, you can readily safeguard your properties, ensuring minimal impact from rental scams.
Contact us to schedule a demo and see how BeHome247 can help keep your tenants, prospects, and single and multi-family rental properties safe.