Published Apr 18, 2024

Rently’s SFR Security Symposium Takeaways

Animated multifamily leasing agent promoting Rently Rental Screening Security

Rently hosted its first ever SFR Security Symposium on March 26, 2024 in Atlanta, GA. This event arose out of a desire expressed at our annual Rently Summit in 2023. SFR operators needed a place to discuss solutions for the increase in rental scams and squatting. As key partners in securing our clients’ properties, we were happy to provide such a forum. We came together and shared experiences, learned from each other, and took steps to create a more secure leasing experience for renters and property owners alike. 

The Current Climate

Rental fraud and scams harm both renters and real estate operators. According to a 2018 Apartment List survey, over 5.2 million renters have encountered fraudulent activity or listing scams. On the operator side, the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) recently conducted a survey that found 67.1% of respondents experienced unauthorized cohabitants, illegal subletting or other actions to evade application or the leasing process. Meanwhile, Snappt reports that the average cost per eviction is $7,685. Clearly, rental fraud is a rampant and costly problem.

Rently Rental Screening Security

Preventing Fraud

So how exactly can you be vigilant and prevent scams? Our client Anthony Wong, COO of FirstKey Homes, shares that the ultimate goal is to mitigate costs. In order to do so, one should leverage technology to know if something needs attention at a property in real time. What’s great is that our partners and clients that utilize Rently Smart Home have an overview of every home where they can monitor sensor alerts, open doors, hub statuses and more without needing to be at the property!

Additionally, Wong was one of the first to use Rently’s Verified Renter lead verification service. He says the leads are better quality and convert at a higher rate. Having a robust application verification process is also a necessity to prevent rental scams.

Moreover, Jonathan James Jones, Vice President of Operations at Brandywine Homes USA, encourages real estate operators to have a dedicated security team to visit vacant homes, or at least have the property manager do regular visits. In addition, he also recommends collaborating with local jurisdictions and making friends with vigilant neighbors. They will keep an eye out for any suspicious activity and communicate that with you.

Dealing with Squatters

Although preventive measures are helpful, should you experience a squatter or scam here are a few insights our panelists discussed. Firstly, Jones shared that when encountering an unlawful occupant in one of your homes, it is important to firmly state that they are a “trespasser” and not a “squatter.” Reason being, a squatter gets more legal rights and has a process to stay there as long as possible. Removing squatters is a civil case with less legal recourse. However, removing trespassers is a criminal case that law enforcement is more likely to help resolve. Jones shares his success with this tip, and notes the importance of rebranding the usage of the word squatter into trespasser.

Secondly, Wong reiterates that speed is everything! The sooner you show up at the property, the sooner you can prevent the squatter from getting settled. Lastly, document any viable evidence of occupancy. Then, reach out to law enforcement to figure out the correct next steps in getting your property vacated.

We also hosted David Howard, CEO of NRHC, for an insightful discussion on property defense with Sahil Farooqi. The conversation delved into Georgia House Bill 1017, known as the “Georgia Squatter Reform Act,” which passed during the symposium. This legislation marks a significant step forward in enabling property owners to efficiently and effectively address the issue of unauthorized occupants. This session created a space for open dialogue and sharing the future of property security and fraud prevention.

Rently rental screening

How Rently is Taking Steps to Prevent Rental Fraud

Rently takes our commitment to prevent rental fraud very seriously. In fact, we invest more than one million dollars every year on engineering solutions to help solve this issue. Since early 2023, Rently clients have experienced a 27% reduction in reported scams.

We honor our duty to protect renters by securing their data, verifying all listings using Rently, and proactively providing scam awareness education. We protect landlords and their properties by taking a multi-layered approach to verifying renter identities, offering customizable security options to detect and prevent scams, and providing comprehensive tenant screening services.

Property owners and managers can also deploy Rently’s smart home offering with smart locks, motion sensors, door and window sensors, video doorbells, and common area access panels for added property protection.

Conclusion

In summary, Rently’s first SFR Security Symposium was a success in achieving what it set out for—industry leaders coming together to share knowledge and learn from one another. We are committed to continuing this dialogue and collaboration. Let’s remain united in our efforts to combat scams and safeguard properties. Thank you to all our clients and partners for attending and for your active participation!

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