The growing business of falsifying payrolls to rent housing: “I will make you permanent, with the seniority you want and the salary you tell me”

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Housing rental has become so ruthless that, in the end, it has ended up becoming the breeding ground for a multitude of abuses. Also crimes. One of those that is gaining the most momentum is the falsification of payrolls, employment contracts and work lives by some tenants who cannot justify their income, do not have an indefinite contract or lack sufficient seniority. That is to say, they do not in any way pass the filter of the landlords, who have armed themselves to the teeth due to the fear of non-payment of rent. They look for tenants with more than a year of experience in the same company and ask for increasingly higher payrolls. “This is something directly proportional to the increase in rent,” says Mercedes Robles, general director of Arrenta, a brokerage specializing in non-payment of rent insurance. The crime, punishable by prison, is very easy to perpetrate thanks to editing programs and design that is within the reach of anyone. But, in addition, it only takes a few minutes to find different advertisements on the Internet that sell falsified payrolls and contracts to rent homes. Florin advertises on Milanuncios and asks, through the private chat of this platform, 180 euros to make up three payrolls. He also manipulates employment contracts: For “50 [euros] further». Florin incorporates in the adulterated document all the data provided by the potential tenant: “Indefinite, the length of service you want and the amount you tell me.” The result, he says, is good. “I do a lot of people, everything turns out perfect. They are PDF formats, the same as those that the company gives you.”This illegality is not unknown, but a few weeks ago Arrenta warned that the percentage of payrolls and working lives made up had doubled in 2023. “The reason is that tenants know «There are few homes available and many candidates, that is why they want to present the most outstanding economic profile to be chosen,» explains Robles. These practices, he says, already reach 10% of total operations (the data takes into account their own and those of other agencies consulted). “Years ago they never exceeded 5%,” he adds. Also at Renta Seguro, dedicated to the comprehensive management of leasing, they have noticed an increase in these practices. “The increase has been double, also due to the increase in demand and the rise in prices,” says David Caraballo, general director of the agency. The National Federation of Real Estate Associations (FAI) insist that sneaking in this type of false documentation is easier when it comes to rentals between individuals. “In the agencies we have sufficient elements to detect this type of practices,” says the president, José María Alfaro. The main alterations are the modification of the contribution base and the liquid amount, change of temporary contract for a permanent one, makeup of life labor and presentation of payrolls of companies in which one is no longer working. Sometimes the deception is very crude and immediately obvious. “They use the same payroll for several tenants, changing the amounts or they are incorrectly dated. Another anomaly is the use of different fonts in the same document. In the case of payrolls, some information is always missing, such as seniority or the company seal is cut out and pasted,” Caraballo explains. In the falsification attempts detected by the AGN Abogados law firm, “they made errors in the calculations or did not modify the days of the month,” says Isabel García-Nieto, partner of the firm. In case of doubt, insurance agencies and companies can apply other methods. filters, such as requesting bank receipts for payroll, comparing contribution base amounts and viewing work life on the websites of public organizations, remembers Robles. Arrenta tells of a case that they have dealt with in recent weeks. The owner of an apartment required that the tenant have an indefinite contract for more than two years. “We were presented with an interested party whose contract met the required requirements. When we compared the data with our sources, we verified that his true seniority was lower and the company confirmed to us that he had been working for just over eight months and that his contract was for construction work.” Something similar happened to María, owner of an apartment in the Ruzafa neighborhood, in Valencia, who chooses not to give her last name so as not to be identified. She demanded an indefinite contract and a seniority of more than one year. In June 2019, she rented the home to a professor whose payroll bore the seal of the Generalitat. “I did not ask for a contract or working life when I saw the seniority of a year and a half on the payroll.” In 2020, with the pandemic, she stopped paying rent. María later discovered that she “actually only collaborated occasionally in an academy.” “The reality is that many people continue to subsist in the so-called underground economy. They have not been able to access a payroll and find themselves having to falsify it to rent. They can pay, but they do not meet the requirements to enter,” says Blanca Palmero, a lawyer at Vilches Abogados. In this office they distinguish three scenarios according to her experience. One is the discovery of the forgery in the judicial procedure. “I remember a tenant who alleged social vulnerability, so we asked the court to carry out an investigation of his income and assets, and we discovered that he had never worked for the company in question,” says Palmero.

Follow the trail

The second is the discovery of the falsification through an investigation prior to the judicial procedure. “In the event of non-payment of rent, we contact our private investigation colleagues, who monitor and determine whether or not these people work in the company for which they claim to be employees,” continues the lawyer. The best scenario occurs when the deception is discovered before signing the lease. “Some clients have taken greater diligence to check whether the payroll is true or not; Some search for jobs through LinkedIn, social networks or even contact companies. It is the most atypical case and normally occurs because the landlord has already had a bad experience,” concludes Palmero. If the deception is discovered before signing the contract, it is rarely reported. “Only in very exceptional cases are legal actions taken, although it is true that documentary falsification is being committed,” says Robles. If the tenant resides in the house and has stopped paying rent, the owner can defend himself by resorting to civil proceedings and requesting termination of the contract and claiming the unpaid amount plus interest and legal costs. You can also resort to criminal proceedings, since the tenant has committed a crime of falsification of a private document that can carry a sentence of six months to two years in prison. Follow all the information from Economy and Business on Facebook and xor in our weekly newsletter

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