Screening International Tenants

4 Replies


We just received an application from a family who lived abroad for ~15 years. They are US citizens but not residing in the US for quite a while. They claim because of this absence, there would not be any credit report available. They have provided details of current tenancy in the foreign country as well as pay stubs from their international employer. One spouse plans to continue working abroad while the other stays back in the US. From the pay stubs etc, the income is good to cover the rent.

How does on go about screening such tenants? What should we watch out for? The family is in a hurry to rent because they are temporarily staying in a extended stay hotel. All the documents provided look too good to be true.

Any ideas/thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


Run the credit and background check anyway. Do they have bank statements and a US employer for the spouse?  If so run an employment check. If there is no US employer why is one spouse  living here (presumably the non-working one )?  I know people do live this way sometimes and we have done it ourselves but there is usually a good reason.  Here you are not screening regarding the reason you are looking at if their story holds together.    If they are US citizens did they file US tax returns?  Can you run a check on the address for their current rental (I don't know can you google this?)   I haven't had the situation but I know there are countries where it would be easy to verify by talking to landlords who may speak English and others countries where I would not try. Canceled checks maybe?   The risk you take is if one person is not working and that is the one you have in your rental while the other is overseas and you wind up with no one paying you and someone on the other side of the ocean you can't touch. 

Thanks Colleen for the response. They have a child going to college. So the non-working spouse will be here while the other spouse works abroad with an employer abroad. Thanks for the tip about background check etc. Yes, I plan to do it. Also, as you suggested, have the non-working spouse as the primary applicant.

The issue is that they have international credit cards. However, there is no way to check the balances, payment history etc. I have a lot of information about their assets but very little knowledge about the liabilities.



@Mahesh P.  

I always run a credit and background check. If you are worried about it you could always ask for the 2x or 3x security deposit (or max allowed for your state). Personally I find those that have "slightly" less "perfect" are my more favorate tenants. I find most "perfect" tenants, high income, low debt, great credit scores end up breaking the lease to buy or not renewing to buy. If they have no desire to stay here other than to be with their son. You might have a longer term tenant.

@Mahesh P.

We are experiencing some of the same issues that this family is.

Our family has not lived in the US for the past 25 years. My son is set to go to college so I decided it was time to take a job in the US to support him while is in school. I have no landlord recommendations in the US and my overseas housing was provided by my company, so they have no idea that I even lived in the place (it is all registered to my company). My situation may be a little easier because my employers have always been US companies and I can provide verification for everything. I have US credit cards as well as International cards, so my credit is checkable and just above average. Another twist in the story is that my wife is not a US citizen and at this time has no Visa. We are getting her a green card, but it has not come through just yet.

What do you think my odds are of being able to rent an apartment or house?

My advice to you would be to check and double check. If they are US citizens then there should be information about them in the normal systems (credit, bank, drivers license, etc.). If it comes back positive, then your fears are probably misplaced. But, if any part of it does not check out or is negative, then do not rent to them, you are setting yourself up for trouble.

We do not actually have any issues because we are buying straight away and do not need to rent.

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