First time landlord with a nightmare potential new tenant.

26 Replies

New to this whole thing so please be gentle.

Im honestly scared of being sued.

I did the research and jumped in with both feet...twice. I actually bought my first two rental houses at the same time and went through the necessary improvements that took a few months and now I am ready to rent them out. My wife and i had our first showings this last weekend. Both HUGE failures due to very little interest. Previous to our first showing we had a woman call in and say that she wanted one of the houses and met all of our requirements. Then her cousin called in and proceeded to tell me that "this was his house and that i was to take it off the market" he was very rude and that he already knew where he was going to put all his furniture and where to hang his tv on the wall....." I told hime he could apply. The showing day came and of course she showed up. I could nearly see the disdain in her eyes when i didnt have the red carpet rolled out to the street. She filled out the application (while she told us her very confident life story in about 3 different versions...wow) and then went and got the money order for our application fee. She then had my wife meet her at the area my wife was already in, meeting someone else and gave her the money order. Here is where the fun begins.

We proceed to the second showing and begin going over the application because, well no one showed up to the second showing. We were at a loss when we actually read the application.

She made exactly 5K a month with exactly 1k in child support. Conveniently just above our required income. Her occupation was care giver, thats it just care giver. I could go on and you would laugh....or maybe this situation is normal and you wouldn't. I am still learning here. She actually gave us a 6 digit Social Security Number. Oh and she endorsed the back of the money order.

I dont know what to do. The cousin (who is acclaimed to have graduated from Rice but honestly sounded like he was incapable of tying his shoelaces) has called twice. We didnt answer.

The idea was to send an adverse action but seeing that we can't run a background check due to the SSN being faked im not sure what to send her.  Or if I should send her anything.

What should we do?

Just send what ever sort of reply for when you turn down an applicant.  

I personally just send a text that says "Sorry we decided to rent the place to someone else."

You can turn down an applicant for not completing the form or for supplying false info.

From the sounds of it you have no obligation to rent to them.

Honestly i kind of thought it was going to be a bit more complicated than that.

Trust your instincts and find another .  I dont like that 6 digit ss number.  Thats a big REDD FLAGG.  Sound like a player ,  she senses you dont know what you are doing.............lol.

On the down side looks like you will need a big cut in rent to attract applicants.

If you cannot verify everything on the application, the application is still considered "in process"  feel free to show the property to others.   iF something on the application is actually false, you can reject for that reason. 

If you are getting very little interest, your rent is probably too high.  Maybe list with a property manager to ensure the property is syndicated to all the sites like trulia, zllow, etc. Totally worth it, even if you manage it yourself. 

What was the money order for?  That application fee? Hopefully you did not collect a deposit until the application was approved by you. 

Caregiver is an actual job which should have a paycheck.  If you cannot verify income, you cannot process that appliation.  The burden of proof is on the applicant to show you what income they make. Did you call the prior landlords? Did you run credit? Did you do a background check? Do not go cheap in this rea. It could cost you in the long run if they dont pay, damage the property or refuse to leave.

If the applicant did not complete the application you can either ask them to complete it or move on, if you want to give her a chance there should be an employer phone number that you could call to verify her employment.  In California most applications require an employer phone number and two months of pay stubs or two years of tax returns if self employed.

You can't say you went with another applicant unless you have one or are at least processing one because she will hound you when she sees it is still advertised. I would just turn her down. Send an email saying you are declining her application and block her number. You dont have to tell her why but I would just mark it as an incomplete application. In my book rude doesnt qualify. Keep in mind anyone you cant deal with before they become a tenant doesnt get easier to deal with after they are a tenant.

She actually did you a huge favor with that 6-digit social security number.  Keep showing the house, get it rented, and then send her a note saying you have rented it to someone else.  If she wants to know why, it is because you were unable to validate the social security number.

As said, they might see that you're new and trying to get one by on you. Be confident! If someone gives you an incorrect/incomplete SS number, that is their own problem. If someone is full of long-winded stories, they're typically lying or covering something up. If someone has a bad attitude or is demanding right from the time you meet them, you'll know they wouldn't be a good tenant.

The key is to be confident. Don't be afraid to professionally stand up to people when they try to bully you into renting to them. You can be kind and professional while saying a firm "no". What you tell the woman is that you are unable to process the application because it is incomplete. No SS number, not enough proof of income (only 1 week), no copy of official ID, etc etc

Know your rental laws now! BEFORE you have tenant troubles! Or at least, see if your area has eviction services so that if you need it, you can just pay some money for professionals to handle the entire eviction process for you (while you still handle the rest of managing the property, if you don't want a full-time PM).

$4k a month for caregiver...I bet she is running a daycare out of her house.  You definitely don't need that liability.

I had a few interesting applicants just this last week, and as someone else said...'Rude does not qualify.

One tenant applicant looked great on paper, plenty of income. The current tenant of the house agreed to let him come in to see it. He then sends me a text telling me that its not suitable unless I make a long list of modifications. Tenant told me he was rude and pushy. I moved on to the next qualified applicant. If they are rude at this stage they are a nightmare later.

Another house, a complete remodel including replacing ONE missing cabinet door. A unique door , I had a cabinet shop duplicate one for me. Showing the house a guy walks in with the missing door! Told me that he used to rent a room there and when he moved out he 'found this in his things' and asked for an application. Gave him one, never got it back. SMH...how does a door just appear in your things when you move?

Another guy came in upset because his friend was there looking the day before and when he made an offer on the rent I made a face...he offered about a third of the rate...and when he tells me the story he says "See!!! Youre making it now!!" and stomps out.

I think its great when they self eliminate.

Good news: your screening process has screened them out.....

Check your local rules (or with a professional), but if you did not run credit, I would not give them anything other than a polite "thanks for applying"...

I would not reward this behavior with any more of your time or energy. 

More good news: a good tenant is out there... they may be your next call or showing.

Also, because the application was defective/incomplete (maybe borderline fraudulent) I would say your risk of any later action is low to nil.

Best of luck!

Originally posted by @Shelley F. :

I had a few interesting applicants just this last week, and as someone else said...'Rude does not qualify.

One tenant applicant looked great on paper, plenty of income. The current tenant of the house agreed to let him come in to see it. He then sends me a text telling me that its not suitable unless I make a long list of modifications. Tenant told me he was rude and pushy. I moved on to the next qualified applicant. If they are rude at this stage they are a nightmare later.

Another house, a complete remodel including replacing ONE missing cabinet door. A unique door , I had a cabinet shop duplicate one for me. Showing the house a guy walks in with the missing door! Told me that he used to rent a room there and when he moved out he 'found this in his things' and asked for an application. Gave him one, never got it back. SMH...how does a door just appear in your things when you move?

Another guy came in upset because his friend was there looking the day before and when he made an offer on the rent I made a face...he offered about a third of the rate...and when he tells me the story he says "See!!! Youre making it now!!" and stomps out.

I think its great when they self eliminate.

 I LOL'd at the cabinet door! That's just nuts!

@Chrissy Ertz That was my thought too. Which leads to my question... Can you have a clause in your lease that tenants cannot run businesses out of your property?

@Neal Hamil ,

This is your first ghetto experience, deep breath.. it won't be your last.     

You do **NOT** legally have to rent to the first person who advertises, and might pass your base criteria.   Just because she passes, doesn't mean you HAVE to rent to her.. so calm down!    If you email her say  "it's because you are X" yes-- that will get you a lawsuit.. but if I were you.. just email her and him,  and thank them for their application, but you don't think it will be a good fit.    You will let them know when the next one is available, but unfortunately you don't see it working out.     You don't have to give details, you don't have to do anything-- you don't owe this person anything but professionalism and respect.    

You  have already decided not to rent to them, so the communication needs to stop.   They are probably getting edgy because they don't have a place to go-- that's their problem, not yours.    

I say congrats, you passed your first screening test!

You guys have been more than I could have ever expected. Thank yall so much.

double post

I would simply decline based on false information., inability to  check employment and if there are blank unfilled spaces you have a no blank space policy. Never mind that she endorsed the money orders. I wouldn’t even be ther running the background. Just tell her that the application was declined her based on her inability of meeting requirements  and btw I do not consider child support income as it is money specifically designed for the child’s use only. Also the child support paying parent can stop paying at any time.  So to me child support doesn’t count towards income. 

When I decline I just decline. Usually I decline based on credit or income. Most get declined by any hone at the initial contact and it never gets past that point. 

Basically

Do you know your credit score and income

Yes it’s 640 and I make 30k a year 

I’m sorry but this puts you well below our acceptance criteria. 

 See here’s the thing what it really comes down to is that there’s a lot of people that while they might have bad credit or not enough income they might be great tenants but I don’t know that and I’m not going to chance half a million to a million dollars worth of property so for me it’s far easier to simply decline and go on my way it’s just I’m sorry but we can’t do business you don’t meet my criteria. People tend to put a lot of emotion in renting and you need to treat it like a business because that’s exactly what it is

I wouldn’t even bat a eye declining this person or the cousin.  First of all I don’t do showings. Never have never will. I phone screen before I even go down to open a door. Don’t meet my requirements? Thank you have a nice day.  What you’re going to learn is that a lot of people are going to waste your time and you were going to waste a lot of your time showing your property to people that will never qualify.  What you need to do is to prequalify people as fast as you can with the least amount of effort.  You will absolutely start phone screening people before you go down there to show the pop a property.  Regardless of whether you phone screen or meet in person that you’re going to get some applications that are going to be declined.  And sometimes even when you phone screen and it sounds like a good tenant or a good potential tenant you set the meeting and they never show. I have a rental right now that it’s sitting empty simply because people do not meet my criteria and I had a couple people that did that with no-shows those people are automatically declined if they were no-shows believe me there’s always something you can find to the client somebody that is perfectly legal and there’s nothing they can do about it it’s all a matter of how badly you as a landlord want to enforce it

 At this point what you want to do is have a written acceptance policy that you feel comfortable with.   Whatever your acceptance policy is you need to have it written down, and once you get it what you need to do is to never ever relax your standards with applicants.  I’ve been doing this for 23 years and what I learned is the applicant will tell you what ever do you think you want to hear to get the place.  Depending on what state you live in and your states renter laws it may be easy or it may be hard to get them out.  

 I wouldn’t worry too much about getti sued because as long as you use the same criteria to either except or decline applications there is no discrimination so there’s nothing for her to sue you.  In order to sue somebody well let me rephrase that, you can actually sue anybody for anything.  Wether or not you win that’s a different story she would have to prove in court that she suffered some damage by not renting to her which I don’t see how that’s possible if she doesn’t pass your criteria  simply the client like every other applicantesn’pass the criteria. 

 Another thing you need to start doing which I understand as the first time landlord you want to do your best and you want to be everything for everyone.  That’s gonna be really hard to do. You can be friendly with your tenants just don’t be friends with your tenants .  I found a rule to be very very good advice and I’m speaking from personal experience as to why I have a policy of never renting to friends or family members 

@Rob D.

I appreciate it. I am working on building my processes up. This is very helpful.

You know you don't HAVE to rent it to her, right?

Easiest solution here is to get a good management company- they'll be in between you and the tenants, and it's their job to deal with (& filter out) this type of BS.

@Neal Hamil  Here's what I do:  I take an application without a fee.  I 'stack rank' them in order of income to debt.  After all, I dont want anyone in my house that is 'house poor'.  I decide who is 'legit', and send them a link to providian for credit/background check.  THEY pay providian, not me, which makes it a little easier.  I dont use application fees as a 'revenue generator'.  I know real estate property managers do use this as a revenue generator, but I AM the face/property manager.

If you have no applicants, lower the price.

Kind Regards,

AG 

Originally posted by @Neal Hamil :

New to this whole thing so please be gentle.

Im honestly scared of being sued.

I did the research and jumped in with both feet...twice. I actually bought my first two rental houses at the same time and went through the necessary improvements that took a few months and now I am ready to rent them out. My wife and i had our first showings this last weekend. Both HUGE failures due to very little interest. Previous to our first showing we had a woman call in and say that she wanted one of the houses and met all of our requirements. Then her cousin called in and proceeded to tell me that "this was his house and that i was to take it off the market" he was very rude and that he already knew where he was going to put all his furniture and where to hang his tv on the wall....." I told hime he could apply. The showing day came and of course she showed up. I could nearly see the disdain in her eyes when i didnt have the red carpet rolled out to the street. She filled out the application (while she told us her very confident life story in about 3 different versions...wow) and then went and got the money order for our application fee. She then had my wife meet her at the area my wife was already in, meeting someone else and gave her the money order. Here is where the fun begins.

We proceed to the second showing and begin going over the application because, well no one showed up to the second showing. We were at a loss when we actually read the application.

She made exactly 5K a month with exactly 1k in child support. Conveniently just above our required income. Her occupation was care giver, thats it just care giver. I could go on and you would laugh....or maybe this situation is normal and you wouldn't. I am still learning here. She actually gave us a 6 digit Social Security Number. Oh and she endorsed the back of the money order.

I dont know what to do. The cousin (who is acclaimed to have graduated from Rice but honestly sounded like he was incapable of tying his shoelaces) has called twice. We didnt answer.

The idea was to send an adverse action but seeing that we can't run a background check due to the SSN being faked im not sure what to send her.  Or if I should send her anything.

What should we do?

I am still not getting why you would be sued? What am I missing?  You can just deny the application due to incomplete information. Have they given their employment information? Valid Photo ID? If you are using a good application, and they don't provide all the information, then you can just deny it based on incomplete information. Such dimwits show up all the time. Its part of the game. Its very normal to have 8-10 showings before getting 1 or 2 good applications. 

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