Rental Applicant Requirements in the Case of Multiple Tenants

8 Replies

Hi Everyone,

I'm in the first time process of accepting applicants for an apartment.  I have a question about the approval process for multiple tenants in one unit (husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, or roommates).

I'm definitely going to run a background check on each adult that lives in the unit, but what about income requirements?  Does each person have to meet the income requirements on their own or together?  My income requirements are 3X the monthly rate and the monthly rate is 600.  Does that mean each tenant has to make 1800/month or would you accept them if they made a combined 1800/month.

My concern would be what if one roommate decided to leave or the couple broke up?

Thanks for your responses!


Sub-question: If one of the applicants meets the income requirements and the other does not, could you do the background check on both, but only put the one approved applicant on the lease, making the responsible one fully responsible for the payments?  That way if the roommates had a disagreement or something, the one that makes enough money would be the one to remain in the apartment.  I want to protect myself financially without being discriminatory.  Thanks again!

I won't claim to have the correct answer as I'm a fairly new landlord myself.  But I'll tell you I made the mistake of not checking out all parties before and here's what I do now. I look forward to responses from the experts.

I believe total income between both/all parties should equal 3X the rent, with all parties responsible. I can tell you when I was renting, my wife wouldn't qualify at 3X by herself, but together we made much more than as I made 3X by myself.  But you can best believe the landlord put her on the lease as a responsible party anyway.  The background was done on both. 

You would want to run the background on all parties of age. You should want to know as much as you can about all parties living in your unit.   At least I do.  If you're at least 18, will be living in the unit, you will have a background check run.  I think it's more than just making sure the rent is paid.  You want to protect yourself from any criminals, yes?  But I could be wrong.  

Anyone 18 or older must apply and will be on the lease. Combined, they must make the 3X rent amount, not individually. In some areas, they could be a tough find anyway.

If a couple breaks up or one person wants to move out, that is up to them, but that doesn't magically make them not responsible for the lease. If the remaining person/people can prove they can afford the rent, that's great...but it's probably best that all original people stay on the lease. Their personal problems are not your problems.

We require a household income of 3x rent and will consider 2.5x with an additional security deposit.  All persons age 18 or above must complete a rental application and be named on the lease as a tenant, jointly and severally liable.  The law will see everyone living there as a tenant with equal rights, whether you name them in your lease or not, even if you call them an occupant.

We also have a procedure in place for adding or removing tenants from the lease, as changes in household make up do happen.  If the household income drops below our threshold because of a person moving out, we get more security deposit at that time.   We also make sure the tenants understand the full security deposit stays with us until the unit is returned to our possession at the end of tenancy.  Anyone moving out needs to get their share of the security deposit from the folks who are staying.

Make sure your applications are designed for more then one application, you may need to revamp for applicants who have not lived together before so you can capture their separate rental history and economic situation. 

My applications are set up to screen each tenant's income capabilities etc so that if one vacates the other can afford to stay. Given your requirements of 3X rent as income I guess it would be difficult to answer b/c the people might have been together for several years and engaged to marry so should be good enough combined for the $1800 requirement but I suppose it would vary on a case by case also. I would find out as much as possible about the relationship situation during "chit chat" and make a judgement call from there.

@Jared K.  

Do you require less than 3X rent for income?

Thank you all for your helpful responses!

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