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Landlords, Don’t Fall for This Property Management Scam

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HS - Jason Hartman Income Property InvestingWhile Holistic Survival founder, Jason Hartman, urges urban survivalists to protect their economic future by investing in income property, new (and old) landlords should be aware that the industry is ripe with a variety of scams, many revolving around property management. One of the most effective is also one of the simplest. Here’s how it works.

Your newly hired “property manager” saturates the local media in order to draw the most interest in renting your unit. Anyone who has ever just missed landing a great apartment knows the frustration of multiple people vying for the same property. What if, rather than renting to a single tenant, the property manager carefully spaced out the showing and move-in schedule so that he could sell the space to five different tenants, collecting five different sets of first and last months’ rent in the process?

Obviously, this is completely unethical and illegal but this “property manager” might easily put $8,000 to $10,000 in his pocket over the course of a few hours and skip town before either the landlord or his new tribe of unrelated tenants knows what hit them. It’s kind of icky to think about, but the only way to beat this kind of scam is to think like a scammer and don’t give him the opportunity to take advantage of you.

As a landlord, the easiest way to avoid being scammed by a fake property manager is to take the time to conduct a background check. It’s actually not hard to establish a management company’s bona fides, and if the individual you want to check out seems evasive, be very concerned! Research state and county records to make sure the company is legitimate. Ask to see identification and then search local government websites and the Better Business Bureau to insure there’s nothing fishy associated with that name.

The bottom line is that any honest property manager who has been in business for even a short length of time will have some sort of track record that can be easily located. If nothing else, ask for references. While it’s a fact of life that every business has to start somewhere, it’s not your responsibility to risk your own money and reputation giving a brand new guy or gal a try. Let someone else be the guinea pig. You should only entrust your rental properties to a proven property manager. (Top image: Flickr | Rooftop Mind)

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