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When Tenants Lie to Property Managers

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Sadly, people are not always honest when money is involved. We asked property managers about their biggest annoyances in the industry and a popular response was:

“Tenants lying: for example, those saying they don’t have dogs, but the neighbors are complaining about dog barking from their apartment.”

Because of the position of authority you, as the property manager, have over a tenant – inevitably, there will be/have been tenants who lie to you (such as the dog example above).

Sneaking in a pet is just one example situation, but there are many more instances that leaseholders might lie to property management. Let’s go through three common scenarios in which tenants may be willing to forgo the truth in an effort to recover their money (i.e. security deposit, pet cleaning fees, pet security deposit, other fees collected).

Three Situations in which Tenants Lie to Property Managers
  1. When a tenant is moving out and they promise you the property is clean, but they avoid the move-out inspection and then go missing in action (MIA).

One of the tenants in your building is moving out in a couple of days. As the property manager, it’s your duty to conduct a detailed move-out inspection, which you are going to do with your mobile device thanks to your property inspection software for iPad, Android, etc..

You have the tenant on the phone, and you attempt to set up a move-out inspection of the property. The tenant gives you a list of reasons why they are too busy at this time to meet with you, but that the apartment is in “perfect” condition. So they say.

Big surprise, a couple days after the tenant is gone, you find during your inspection that their apartment is a mess and the tenant racked up hundreds of, dollars in damages – which is exactly why they avoided you like the plague! When you call the tenant, you get a recorded message that the phone line has been terminated.

Now that you can no longer get a hold of the tenant, besides legal action (which may or may not be worth it), there’s little you can do to request compensation for the damages.

The answer?

Always… ALWAYS make it a habit to conduct the formal move-out inspection BEFORE the tenant leaves the building. When dealing with a tenant that may try to avoid you or is difficult to contact, it might be better to show up unannounced for the inspection. While the tenant may find this off-putting, it’s often the only way to be sure the tenant is present during the inspection. Be careful not to engage in too much small talk with residents so that you do not miss any of the important details during the inspection process.

  1. When a tenant tries to avoid a pet security deposit and associated fees, so they lie to you and tell you that they do not have pets, when in fact, they do.

A tenant comes to you and reports they heard barking from the neighbor’s apartment while they were out. Interestingly, this neighbor did not pay a pet security deposit or report to you about a pet living in the apartment.

Pet deposits will vary and can include both a refundable and non-refundable portion. This money goes towards covering the costs that are necessary to clean up the odor of an animal and any extra damages that the pet may cause to the property. Tenants may lie in order to avoid all these costs entirely – which then puts you, the property manager on the hook for the cleanup costs. But how does a manager prove the presence of a pet? It’s only a matter of time before the clues start to surface.

Other clues as to the presence of a pet include sightings of an unfamiliar animal around the premises and that undeniable odor (especially if we’re talking cats). Even if you have a strong suspicion that a tenant has an animal, that may not be enough to interrogate.

However, this scenario of a neighbor reporting a dog barking at night or when the owner is a common way property managers find out about unauthorized animals.

The best way you can protect yourself is to document any signs or reasons for suspicions you have about a pet within the SnapInspect app which allows for notes on particular inspection points that will be connected to the report checklist.

  1. When property damage is present, and the tenant insists, “That was already there.”

During your move-out inspection with a tenant that’s ready to vacate, you discover a foul odor and stains on the carpet in the apartment. The tenant acts insulted at the accusations and swears the carpet was in this condition when they moved in.

It can be tricky, time-consuming, and sometimes not worth that hassle for the property manager to try to argue these points with the tenant. Photo and video documentation conducted with your home inspection app will be the property manager’s best friend in these situations as it will provide a quick resolution to any disputes during the vacating phase.

Luckily you have thoroughly documented the before condition of this property with your property inspection app. On the SnapInspect app, you were able to conduct a thorough checklist and inspection report with all the details of the video. Also, you had the client present as you conducted a walk-through video inspection that is also attached.

It will only take one costly instance of being caught without proper documentation of the walk-through to highlight the importance of this task. Without any solid evidence, it may quickly turn into a “he said, she said” situation. This statement can’t be overstressed:

As a property manager, you need to conduct a property inspection that documents the condition of the property before the tenant moves in and when the tenant is moving out.

Document Clearly, Accurately – in Detail with SnapInspect

Taking video and photos on separate devices and combining them with a written report can be a time-consuming task. Especially if multiple properties are being managed. As the amount of content associated with the properties rises, so does the chance of an error in record keeping.

SnapInspect allows for quick and customizable inspections to be documented on one device and immediately forwarded to all appropriate parties. By instantly attaching videos and photos to the move-in report, the busy work of later finding and attaching the files is removed from the equation. Plus, you can utilize this home inspection application as an ongoing property log, with appropriate text areas where you can leave comments and follow-ups regarding maintenance and other issues.

By accurately documenting property condition in our secure cloud that backs up your data, you are protecting yourself against a lying tenant in matters concerning the property’s condition. Try SnapInspect for yourself now with the free two-week trial, and you will see why 98 percent of clients that try SnapInspect, stick with SnapInspect.


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