By Daniel Berlind, CEO of Snappt on Oct 11, 2022

The Snappt “Treacherous Twenty”

Rental Application Fraud- Can It Happen to You?

During the rental application process, if you are like most property managers, you’ll ask your applicants for pay stubs, contact information, social security numbers, and bank statements. You’ll also run credit checks upfront and other verifications to vet your prospective renters.  All sounds familiar. Maybe not so familiar, are a few rental application statistics that will catch your attention:

  • One in eight pay stubs and bank statements applicants submit are FAKE.
  • ONE in FOUR evictions had their start with fake financial documents.
  • Last year, fraudsters submitted more than TEN MILLION fake financial documents.
  • That works out to 1,250 fake documents PER HOUR.

It’s called “application fraud,” and with evictions costing upwards of $7,500, this is a risk you must control.

The Snappt “Treacherous Twenty”

Real Estate and rental application fraud is rampant, but some areas have more scammers than others. Today, Snappt is releasing the “Treacherous Twenty,” the list of the top 20 major metropolitan areas by application fraud rate. Snappt has scanned more than 1.5 million pay stubs and bank statements, and we’ve recently compiled this list to alert property managers to where the biggest risks lie.


Note that the eviction rates – which are often driven by rental property application fraud – ran as high as 1 in 9 for our treacherous twenty. The average eviction rate was 4.83%, nearly double the national average of 2.6%.

In Atlanta, property managers see fake paystubs or bank statements for every 5th or 6th applicant! Houston and Dallas were not far behind. We aggregated this into the major regions of the US to find the following:image2

Drivers of Application Fraud

There are many drivers of application fraud, but rent increases and unemployment stick out. Many of the treacherous twenty show extreme movement along these drivers.

  • Increasing rent. Higher rents make it more challenging to qualify. This in turn causes more potential tenants to resort to application fraud. We are seeing annual rent increases as high as 29.5% in our list (Tampa/ St. Petersburg). In fact, nearly half showed double-digit rent increases in 2022. With the steadily climbing price point of apartments, we can expect low prices to be a thing of the past for a while.
  • Unemployment. Unemployment makes it impossible to qualify for an apartment. This drives applicants to fraudulently alter bank statements and paystubs. Unemployment rates were as high as 5.7% on our list, well above the national average of 3.8%. In fact, half of the metro areas on our list have unemployment rates at or above the national average.

My City Isn’t on the List. Am I Safe?

Didn’t make the list? Congratulations! But are you safe? Let’s do the math …

Let’s start with your fraud rate. The average application fraud rate for major metro areas that didn’t make the list was 3.6%.

Next, assume you have 250 units. A typical client sees perhaps 150 units come up for rent each year. At a 3.6% fraud rate, that means you’ll receive 5 to 6 fraudulent applications. Will you be able to spot these? Probably not – they are virtually invisible to the naked eye.

So now you have five potential bad tenants in your building. Nationally, it costs $7,500 to evict someone (legal fees, lost rent, damage, etc.). So, your exposure is 5 x $7,500 = $37,500.

Are you safe? Well, $37,500 per year is a significant number. And remember, Snappt costs $18/year per unit to keep these fraudsters out of your property. For a 250-unit property, that’s $4,500/year to avoid a $37,500 exposure.

Next Steps

Application rental fraud is up. In the Snappt Treacherous Twenty it’s WAY up. But Snappt can help. Click here for a video tour of how Snappt can help you keep the fraudsters out of your building and ensure you don’t become the victim of a rental scam.

In a hurry? Click here to schedule a demo with one of our fraud specialists.

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