Tenant Tried To Beat Me Out of the Rent Yesterday

The “I sent the wrong check scam” is one of the oldest. Here’s how to stop a bad tenant from pulling it on you…

bad tenantsA tenant tried to beat me out of the rent yesterday right after I finished writing the post about training your tenants.

It was ironic.

Here’s the scam.

She paid by money order and she called Monday claiming she had accidentally written the money order to us that was supposed to go for her car payment.

She asked if we would return the money order for $238.00 and she would give us the correct money order (had she sent it to the car dealer already?) for the rent which is $725.

We agreed to give her the $238. 00 money order back as soon as it arrived.

Meanwhile on Tuesday we received the money order made out to us  for $238.00

Hmmm.  Odd.

There was also a rather rambling hand- written letter stating that she was thinking about moving. 

Her story is that she may be promoted at work, (hasn’t exactly happened yet) and she may be moving out of town.

In the letter she went on asking for “any thoughts from you”…

Again, odd.

I called her immediately and told her there was a problem and we need to talk. 

Voice mail, of course.

Finally, she returned my call a few hours later, very lady-like and well mannered.

(She’s smooth, as all such operators generally are.)

I started with the money order.

“We’re keeping this money order since it’s made out to us already.  You need to send the difference for $487.00”

“Well, I can’t do that because I’ve already written another money order to the car dealer for your $725.00.  So I just need to get the money order back from you so I can cross out your name and put his there and then I’ll cross out his name on the $725.00 one and put your name on it.”


“The bank won’t cash out a crossed out name on a money order,” I told her.tenant beating you out of the rent

“I’m driving right now, but I’ll have to go to the bank and see if I can work out some sort of refund, ” she said.

“You do that.”

She paused, acting like I was being difficult, but I reminded her we were not parting with the money we already had.

She agreed to send the rest, and we all know this trick.

It’s the “I sent the wrong check, i.e. money order” delay tactic.

Now for the letter.

“Let’s discuss this letter.  This is quite a shock to us because you signed a year’s lease.  You’ve only been in the unit for four months.  Your lease goes all the way to next May.”

“I know, but this promotion opportunity came up and I don’t want to pass it up, she told me.”
“Where will you be moving to?”

“I’m not sure.”

“You’re moving out of town and you don’t know where?”
“It could be one of three places.”

“I see,” I said.

The story was getting more and more ridiculous, as all yarns tend to get. 

I still can’t figure out how she expected me to believe her employer had three different job promotions open and she could take her pick, especially in these economic times.

 None of the locations she mentioned were anywhere the typical young person would want to move to after living in Nashville, where her family is also located. 

Here is how we handle situations like this. 

 (I’m sorry if this is a little long, but I think this is important. If you haven’t had this scam pulled on you, someone will at some point, so you need to know.)

We have a clause in the lease stating exactly what the “Employer Transfer” is and what we will do under those circumstances.

1. We must get a letter from the tenant’s employer stating he is transferring her out of town.

We will verifiy the letter with her employer, meaning we will call him to make sure he actually wrote it.

If she wants to fake it, she’ll do so at her own peril.

2. We will allow a tenant to break the lease, but we must receive the equivalent of one month’s rent, plus they will lose their deposit.  (Check your local laws to make sure this is legal in your state)

3. We are very nice, mannerly and firm when we give them this news. 

You don’t have to hit them over the head.  You’ve got it all it writing.

Here’s another observation about a mistake we did make- back in May, when we rented to her.

She had a less than good credit rating.

We signed her because she got a relative who also lives in town, to co-sign.   We had checked his credit and it was excellent.  He is a successful businessman so we figured he was good for the money.

Big mistake.

People who have a bad credit history, will probably keep on having bad credit histories.

 I know, I know.  We should give them a chance.  Maybe there were problem beyond their control, etc.  Right?


I repeat, pass over them.

Just don’t go there.

I try to keep you updated on how all of this turns out.

I have a feeling this is just the beginning of our problems with her.  This may turn out to be a long lease for both of us.

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