Rental Laws: How to Identify Fraudulent Landlord Practices?

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Tenants are protected from fraudulent landlord practices under state rental laws and consumer fraud laws. However, if you don’t know how to identify fraud, then your landlord could take advantage of you without you knowing. Here are some things to be on the lookout for when it comes to fraudulent landlord practices:

Verbal Communications Only

When you write things down, you have documentation of communications. A landlord engaged in fraudulent practices won’t want anything to do with letters or other forms of writing that could come back to haunt them in court. They tend to stick to short, verbal communications, and often in person rather than on the phone. If you keep making requests for repairs in writing or sending letters notifying your landlord of other problems, and you never get a response in writing, then something is wrong. You should continue with written communications on your part and documenting any verbal communications made by the landlord, but you should be prepared to deal with possible fraud on the landlord’s part.

No Receipts

Another way to identify fraud is when repairs are made due to damages you cause, but you never get a bill or a receipt. Somewhere down the line you’ll have to pay for it, and it’s usually out of your security deposit. However, if there’s no receipt, your landlord can make up whatever amount they want and keep your security deposit. This is unfortunately all too common when it comes to landlord fraud, and although rental laws prohibit this, the expense of going to court over it is often too cost prohibitive for many tenants.

To avoid this fraud, ask for copies of receipts as soon as repairs are made. Make the request in writing, especially if the repairs are made after you move out. A common fraudulent practice is for the landlord to claim that they spent many hours cleaning or repairing an item and billing you for their time. Rental laws require the charges to be reasonable, and therefore you may need to get written estimates from other service professionals for the same repairs to see whether the landlord is committing fraud.

Non-Responsiveness to Requests

One sure way to identify fraudulent landlord practices is to test their responsiveness to your requests for maintenance and repairs and other issues you face during your tenancy. If they ignore you all the time, then you can start to suspect fraud. One type of fraud is that the landlord may have spent your security deposit for their own personal use, which is prohibited by rental laws. As a result, they may have run out of money to hire someone to make repairs or to buy the materials needed to make the repairs themselves. Allow for a reasonable response time depending on the issue you face. For example, your landlord should respond within hours of pipes bursting unless they’re out of town. However, a reasonable response time for another tenant’s barking dog may be a week or so. If a reasonable amount of time has lapsed and there’s no response, and the non-responsiveness is a pattern of behavior, you may be dealing with fraud.

Do your research ahead of time to learn as much as you can about your landlord. Ask other tenants and even check court cases to see whether legal action has been taken (and won) against the landlord for previous violations of rental laws. This will help you to avoid landlords that cause problems for tenants.

9 Responses to “Rental Laws: How to Identify Fraudulent Landlord Practices?”

  1. May 16, 2010 at 12:35 pm, Stephanie said:

    My landlord is trying to use the court with fraud my landlord don’t have current license to rent me this apartmen have outstanding violation and altered the lease I am from Philadelphia

    Reply

  2. May 18, 2010 at 3:09 am, Stephanie said:

    Sent my landlord use fraud to get me to pay him what will the court do to him???? I am from phila

    Reply

  3. July 04, 2010 at 1:08 am, Sarah said:

    My landlord just gave me eviction notice after telling me that I had until Feb to either get out or get rid of my cat that I had at the apartment since I moved in two years ago, he now changed the date to October. I had a house fire one day when I left forgetting that I had my daughters bottles on the stove. The landlord does not claim this as a basement apartment and made up a story that I have access to the full house and he allowed me to move in because I dated his son and stayed a family friend and then moved on to a relationship with his son’s friend. His son and my fiance are not friends and I am 7 years older then his son. (would never date anyone that much younger) He even told me to call him dad while the insurance people were here taking all the info. I told him I didn’t want to do that as I only have one father. He told me it would make it sound like a better story. I want to report this activity however I do want to get myself in trouble for lying. Would I be charged for going along with his story or would it be in his hands since none of my stuff was replaced and he got a free cleaning and replaced my fridge and stove with OLD items from friends he works with and he got them for free.

    Reply

  4. August 16, 2010 at 6:51 pm, mariah said:

    My Landlord substituted the original agreement for a fake one that says I paid less in deposits and takes away garbage service and mowing. Then after a year and a half of living in the home w/ no smoke alarms I had 2 electrical fires. She would not pay a pro. to fix the wiring. We had a bunch of other major repairs that needed to be done she just wouldn’t fix them. So I called the county and got evicted the same day. Now I’m not sure what to do. Do I wait for her to get a court order to evict us then defend myself? I am 7 month pregnant with 4 kids and no place to go. Help!!!

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  5. February 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm, tenant with crooket landlord said:

    To whom it may concern .
    My landlord is the biggest crook you will ever no.He floreclose on his house and was taking my money and part from the goverment and didnot say a thing.When I found out they lie about it .And still is and come to found out they have all kinds of fines and liens on one of there property.I think they floreclose on a lot of there property.They think Iam dum and I dont no why .Because I never give them that througth to think that .I always let them no that its not that sweet like that .I learn that people who think they can play you are the dum ones.And they are the dummest people I ever seen in my life and I have seen some dum people on this earth!They have done all kind of things to me and they think its kool but its not.I dont no how they sleep at nigth and how they live with themself .IT CRAZY LANDLORDS OR OUT OF CONTROL!!!
    Rpping Tenants off !Something needs to be done .They dont have rigth papers and take tenants to court like they living rigth and they are in there house .Because they house is up to part because they robbing us to keep up with there home they live in.My landlord live in a township that you have to have money to live there.They school taxes is like $8000.00 a year or more some people pay$ 14000.00 a year .Thats why he couldnot pay the mortgage on the house I live in that is only $300.00 a month and he was getting like almost $1000.00 a month for this house.The taxes for this house a year is not evening $500.00 a year.That crazy and they own a business that they had about over 30th years.How dum is that .They think there play me but I am no fool.They the dum ones.

    Reply

  6. November 14, 2012 at 9:58 am, jay said:

    my landlord lives on sight and is making me pay utilitis for her and my family..is this against the law..

    Reply

  7. October 13, 2016 at 4:04 pm, Debra Kunkel said:

    This is a new one. My grand daughter paid 6 mo rent (discount) 2 days later the landlord says not working out. She has to move and he will reimburse her for rent "later". She refuses to go until reimbursement becuz taking to court is a nightmare and you never get money back. He said if she won't move I will move her. He has egged her car 4 times, smeared human feces on the steps, and shut off her heat and hot water. The scam is to get 6 months rent, get them to voluntarily vacate and on to the next person. These landlords know they will just get a judgement they will never have to pay, and the courts are happy to take small court fees, etc. are there any real laws that actually make these landlords stop scamming? I don't know which is worse, the courts or the landlords

    Reply

  8. December 21, 2016 at 11:50 pm, Rob Cooper said:

    My landlord lives out of state I live in new York state and I am assuming they live in new Jersey every month I send my rent check in the mail on the first .I am always ensuring there are funds to cover that check however I have observed in the last 5 months those checks are being deposited late and they are well past the due date of the 10th of each month and the landlord is charging late fees .I have also received and eviction notice for the month of January if the rent is not on time eviction will be enacted. I've decided to begin sending money orders via certified mail.am awaiting if they take me to court for eviction one of my questions is .is this a legal way to protect me by sending a money order via certified mail.and second I have also discovered that the local judge favors the owner of the Trailor
    park I live in as a conflict of interest and under the code of ethics and color of law can I place the judge under recusing themselves

    Reply

  9. January 15, 2017 at 9:22 pm, Alberto said:

    My landlord is ridiculous trying ignore to me i am deaf very serious i have my ssi. Me not RICH. But landlord telled lawyer wants $3,967 i said i do not signs about lease. I was show my everything. He was shocked i told landlord i want 3 persons lease he said no only you i am only my name. So landlord is mistakes lost why because i was agrue with lawyer why lawyer can interprete? Wrong. So he dismissed …..landlord is bad everything no paints no new heat no cold water no toilet that is why i have live 5years ago….

    Reply

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