Rental Laws: 3 Types of Landlord Fraud

January 16th, 2010 by

Rental laws protect tenants from many types of landlord fraud. Unfortunately, there are some landlords who make more money scamming tenants than renting apartments. Knowing what to look for can help you avoid trouble and recover any money you lose.

1. Security Deposit

The bulk of the complaints from tenants in the area of landlord fraud comes from the landlord withholding some of all of the security deposit after the tenant moves out. Rental laws dedicate what the landlord can take out of the security deposit as reimbursement for cleaning, repairs and other expenses, as well as how soon to return all or some of the security deposit. However, some landlords never intend to return the security deposit and use the following ways to hold on to the money:

  • Excessive cleaning charges: They clean the apartment themselves and charge you for much or all of the deposit
  • Exaggerated claims of damage: For example, charging $1,000 to clean up “pet odors and stains”
  • Fake fees for painting: It either never gets done or doesn’t cost as much

Whenever your landlord charges fees that are deducted from the security deposit, ask for copies of the bills and receipts. If he gives you his own bills and receipt for doing his own work, then compare his rates to cleaning and home repair service companies in the area. Rental laws require the fees to be reasonable and not excessive.

2. Defective Premises

In many states, the rental laws don’t cover a landlord renting substandard or damaged premises as fraud, but the state’s consumer fraud statutes do. Under those laws, it would be fraudulent for a landlord to rent an apartment to a tenant that is known to be damaged or defective. If the tenant takes the landlord to court and wins, the landlord would have to pay for the tenant’s lawyer fees and the court will punish the landlord with “punitive damages,” which means the landlord will have to pay fines.

3. Identity Theft

No one wants to think that a potential or current landlord is going to steal their identity, but there are dishonest landlords who commit identity theft. This takes place on the rental application, where much of your personal information is collected, such your social security number and date of birth. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about the rental application if you want to rent the apartment. Landlords do have a right to determine whether you’re a risky tenant. However, you can do a lot to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. For example, don’t fill out a rental application form with just anyone. It makes sense for apartment buildings, but not an individual landlord. Also, ask them to take one or the other, either the social security number or the birth date, but not both.

According to the rental laws in your state, the landlord can be liable for double and treble (3 times) damages for fraud. If you find yourself renting from a shady landlord, document everything and follow your lease agreement carefully in order to protect yourself while you look for alternative housing. Once you move out, do what you can to warn others, by taking legal action against the landlord for fraud.

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4 Responses to “Rental Laws: 3 Types of Landlord Fraud”

  1. Karen Dawe Says:

    Hi:

    My name is Karen J. Dawe. My landlord has a habit of misapplying the law and I am afraid as a result of social services law or what they create a makeshift ATTEMPT at the law will cause the man s death. The law he did not apply too or use. There have been several interested parties is getting him out of the neighborhood. The man is of course housing welfare applicant s only if it looks like they did not pay the rent. They either did not get the rent released to him the ODSP applicants did. It is such a minor violation almost nobody would notice. I hope I can look back to HEAR HUMAN RIGHTS LAWS.

    The O.D.S.P. law does not support the board of trustee s or to cut back on the number of O.D.S. P. recipients that never have to face the light of day or to review special diet cases. And, of course neither do the O.W. recipients. ie. job of local fire and police and ambulance.

    The man has no ability to read the clauses and he is set up as a mini entrapment set of rules all his own. He was in the Viet Cong war and killed several women and children. It was not his fault how the law processed their either.

    He is not a very well liked man when it comes to landlord dispute ONLY. I hope he is safe and free from harm however the situation has escalated to a point.

    I wish him all the best and I hope he survives this one last attempt of the Canadian government to process the law on him.

    He is loved by all friends and family and by the ODSP applicants and OW applicants even they had to move out.

    He is not the problem. Community and Social services fake law is the problem.

    My rent was paid. And, the money was used by the board of trustee s.

    Sincerely

    Karen J. Dawe

  2. Karen Dawe Says:

    I hope the landlord survives the turmoil he is confronted with. And, I am not mad at him. It is not his fault.

    The women he killed at war will never have recognition by the Ministers in this country if something is not done.

    Karen J. Dawe

  3. Karen Dawe Says:

    The government is our life blood and he never stopped the evictions that were not my fault and he did not raise a finger to the Canadian ministry government that was a sick as could be. THE SHADOW government is one and the same not different.

    Karen J. Dawe

  4. heather Says:

    Landlord’s fridge leaked in the back which mildly damaged the hardwood floor. She wantsto take $1700.00 from our security deposit for repair. What do we do?

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