What Property Managers Must Do To Prevent Listing Fraud

One critical aspect for property managers is ensuring that listings for rental properties are accurate, truthful, and compliant with fair housing laws.

Listing fraud, which includes misrepresenting properties or discriminating against potential tenants, can lead to legal troubles and damage to a property manager’s reputation.

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In this blog, we’ll explore what property managers must do to prevent listing fraud while staying in line with fair housing compliance in the United States.

But, first, let’s understand listing fraud in detail.

What is a Listing Fraud?

Listing fraud refers to deceptive or dishonest practices related to property listings, typically in the context of real estate or rental properties. It involves misrepresenting the characteristics, conditions, availability, or pricing of a property in order to attract potential buyers or tenants under false pretenses. Listing fraud can take various forms, including:

  1. Misleading Descriptions: Providing inaccurate or exaggerated descriptions of a property’s features, size, or condition. This can include false claims about amenities, square footage, or the overall quality of the property.
  1. Fake Photos: Using photos that do not accurately represent the property. This might involve using old or heavily edited images that make the property appear better than it actually is.
  1. Bait-and-Switch: Advertising a particular property at an attractive price or with appealing features but then redirecting interested parties to a different, less desirable property once they inquire.
  1. False Availability: Claiming that a property is available for rent or purchase when it is not, with the intention of luring potential tenants or buyers and then offering them alternative options.
  1. Discriminatory Practices: Engaging in discriminatory behavior by refusing to show or rent a property to certain individuals or groups based on their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. This is a violation of fair housing laws.
  1. Price Gouging: Inflating the price of a property significantly above market rates to take advantage of desperate or unaware buyers or renters.
  1. Hidden Fees: Failing to disclose additional fees or costs associated with renting or purchasing a property, leading to unexpected financial burdens for tenants or buyers.

Listing fraud is not only unethical but also illegal in many jurisdictions, as it can harm individuals financially and lead to legal consequences for the parties involved. 

How to Prevent Listing Fraud and Ensure Compliance?

Now, let’s dive into the topic of how you can prevent property listing fraud and ensure fair housing compliance to avoid legal consequences.

Accurate and Descriptive Listings

One of the most effective ways to prevent listing fraud is to create accurate and detailed property listings. Property managers should provide comprehensive information about the property’s features, amenities, and condition. This includes specifying the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, available appliances, and any unique selling points. By being transparent about what a property offers, property managers reduce the risk of misleading potential tenants.

Consistent Marketing Across Platforms

Property managers should ensure that their property listings are consistent across all advertising platforms, including websites, social media, and printed materials. Any discrepancies in information can raise suspicion and erode trust. Consistency helps to establish credibility and avoid potential legal issues.

High-quality photos and Virtual Tours

Using high-quality photos and virtual tours can go a long way in preventing listing fraud. Images should accurately represent the property and showcase its best features. Avoid using outdated or deceptive photos that misrepresent the condition of the property. Virtual tours can provide potential tenants with a more immersive and accurate view of the property.

Avoid Discriminatory Language and Practices

To comply with fair housing laws, property managers must avoid discriminatory language and practices in their listings. This includes refraining from using language that implies a preference for or against certain groups of people based on protected characteristics. For example, avoid phrases like “perfect for young professionals” or “not suitable for families with children.” Instead, focus on describing the property itself.

Implement a Written Fair Housing Policy

Property management companies should have a written fair housing policy in place and ensure that all employees are trained in fair housing compliance. This policy should outline the company’s commitment to fair housing principles and provide guidelines for creating inclusive and non-discriminatory listings.

Screen Tenants Fairly

Tenant screening is a crucial part of the rental process. Property managers must have a consistent and non-discriminatory screening process that assesses tenants based on objective criteria, such as credit history, rental history, and income. Avoid making decisions based on personal biases or stereotypes.

Seek Legal Counsel

When in doubt, property managers should seek legal counsel to ensure their listings and practices comply with fair housing laws. Legal professionals can provide guidance, review listings, and offer advice on staying within legal boundaries.


Preventing listing fraud and ensuring fair housing compliance is not only a legal obligation but also a moral responsibility for property managers in the United States. By following these guidelines and prioritizing accuracy, transparency, and non-discrimination, property managers can create a positive and inclusive rental experience for all tenants while reducing the risk of legal repercussions. Ultimately, upholding fair housing principles not only benefits the tenants but also contributes to the long-term success and reputation of property management businesses. If you want to learn about listing fraud and fair housing compliance then explore our website to get access to free webinar training from experts in the industry.

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