Can I See Your ID Please? Why Landlords Should Card Potential Tenants

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It is an unfortunate fact in today’s world that people lie and steal.

Couple that fact with the rise of the internet and social networking where much of our personal information is out there for the world to see and it becomes clear that someone can very easily claim to be someone else.

And that someone could be applying to rent one of your properties.

Why would someone use another identity to try and rent on of your properties? There are a host of reasons, such as:

  • They could be a petty thief
  • They could be a major thief
  • They might have terrible credit that is preventing them from renting
  • They might be on the run from the law
  • They might be a convicted felon trying to hide their violent past
  • They might be a convicted sex offender trying to hide their perverted past.

None of which I think you generally want in your properties.

Protecting Yourself

So how do you as a landlord protect yourself?

How do you make sure who really is moving into your property?

It’s pretty easy actually. you just ask to see their ID.  Our policy is to ask to see an ID twice, once during the application process and again at the lease signing.

During the application process an ID must be submitted with the application for it to be processed.  We want to be sure we have the legal and correct spelling of the applicant’s name along with other info such as date of birth and past address.

Even if the applicant is applying from somewhere out of town it is not a problem.  Most folks will simply take a picture of their ID with their smart phone and e-mail it to us along with their application.

Ah ha you say!  How do you know then who is really applying from a picture that was e-mailed to you?  Could they not have taken any old ID picture?  They could have yes.  That is way our policy is to require seeing the ID a second time at the lease signing, in person.  The picture had better match who is sitting at the signing table or no sale.

So what types of ID’s are acceptable? Generally any government issued ID with a picture will work.  Driver’s Licenses are the most common.  But passports, military ID’s and even gun permits are acceptable (we have those here in Tennessee).  Just be sure to use one of them during your application process.

Whatever ID you use look at the ID closely as well as the applicant and application.  Does everything match?  Does anything look tampered with?  Is some part of the story not adding up?  If you have any suspicion, no matter how small, listen to it.

Go with your gut feeling and dig deeper.  You could save yourself a ton of trouble later on just by asking for and checking an ID.
Photo Credit: Nicobobinus

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About Author

Kevin Perk is co-founder of Kevron Properties, LLC with his wife Terron and has been involved in real estate investing for 10 years. Kevin invests in and manages rental properties in Memphis, TN and is a past president and vice-president of the local REIA group, the Memphis Investors Group.

8 Comments

  1. Sara Cunningham on

    Simple but very important. However as you mention at the end of the article, don’t just do this dig deeper. Sometimes more than 1 form of ID is another way to make sure they don’t have some smart contacts that can help with fake ID. If there are criminals sometimes this is the easiest thing to get. We always ask for copies of payslips too

    • Kevin Perk

      Sara,

      Very good points. If your gut is saying something is wrong, asking for a second id might be the way to go.

      We also ask for pay stubs, but have also seen them forged as well. Just have to keep digging and digging!

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      Kevin

  2. @Author — thanks for the information, good comments.

    A few typo’s, in the title; landLords and first line “today’s WORLD”

    Also, in CA they might turn your unit into a meth lab (as a reason to check ID)

  3. Just last summer I had a fellow use stolen information (his ex bosses) along with a picture ID that look very much like a real PA drivers license. This fellow on the application was self employed as a computer repairman. He gave me a business card from his company, looked very cheap like it was made on a copier.

    I decided to Google earth his last residence, he lived in an empty lot, his landlord answered the phone claiming his rent was $150 more then he stated.

    What ended his chance was a search of Linked-in which came up with the picture of the owner of the computer business. Believe me this was not the owner of that business who applied for the rental unit. At my call to deny the application, I mentioned the Linked-in picture, where this fellow said that was a picture of his twin brother and then hung up.

    • Kevin Perk

      Dennis,

      Good job at sensing things did not add up and digging deeper. You saved yourself some real trouble. Great story too!

      Thanks for reading and for commenting,

      Kevin

  4. Chris Clothier

    Nice Article Kevin. Timely too – just last week we had two different potential tenants try to use expired licenses, which may seem trivial to some (I don’t know), but it is a reflection on that tenant. We turned both down and used it as a good time to re-train our staff on ID’s.

    Good article – Thanks

    • Kevin Perk

      Chris,

      Good move and good point – Check the dates! I am sure you have seen a lot of such things with the scope of your business and could share dozens of stories. Nice point also on keeping your staff up to date.

      Thanks for reading. I appreciate you taking the time to comment,

      Kevin

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