My first rental - should I rent to this guy?

23 Replies

I own a house and put an ad on Craigslist to rent a room for $675 per month, which includes all utilities.  This is my first  time renting and first time reading someone's credit report.  This guy came to my house, filled out an application, and paid for the credit and background reports.   I ran them today and these are the results.  First, a few comments about the application.  

He owns a house out of state so he has no previous landlords.  He is renting out his house and his p's are watching over it.  His company transferred him here and he has been working here 3 months at the same company as his brother, who he is living with now.  He says he's been with the company 2 years.   The only references he listed were his parents and his employer.  

He told me on the phone he makes about 40k per year, but for some reason he left the monthly income section blank on the application.   The credit report says 40k , but doesn't show a company.   For this analysis, let's assume he makes 40k gross income.   If you guys think he's okay based on 40k,   I'll ask for pay stubs and an explanation  for the judgement and collection balance.    He did mention he had cancer and has been in remission for 8 years. 

Credit score 602

2012.   $782 collection balance 

2008  Civil judgement for $3500.  Status says reported.  How do I know if he paid it?

22k of credit card debt on 3 cards, all near high credit.   Nothing past due in last 90 days. 

43k house loan balance. 56k high credit.    $400 per month payments,  nothing past due.  

12 credit inquiries in the past two weeks from various places.  

Would you consider him?  If so, what questions should I ask about the judgement and collection balance?   

He is the only person to come to my house in the past 3 weeks so I'm hoping he is an acceptable risk.     I was thinking  of asking for first months rent, last months rent and one month deposit.   Or is it more favorable to me to get first months rent plus 2 months security deposit?   Same amount of money wondering which is best.  Or first three months rent plus deposit.   Just thinking of how to protect myself or if I should just say no.   Thanks!

no criminal record, he would be my roommate, i live in illinois which means it takes a long time to evict someone. 

I always ask for 3 recent paystubs to verify his stated income, then you can call the employer to try and find out how long he's been there. If that all pans out to what he's stated I'd be fine with that part. I don't worry to much about credit but I would want to know more about that judgment. 

If I read correctly, you are renting a room in your house so this is a roommate situation vs. renting out an apartment. With roommate situations you are allowed to be much more subjective with your tenant criteria because they are applying to live in your house and they should meet your normal criteria, but also need to be compatible with your lifestyle. You have to weigh the benefits of income to having to share a house with someone you might potentially resent or be unhappy with. You need to be asking them all about their habits, routines, work hours, do they have weird hobbies or loud instruments. I put my roommates through a stringent interview that I can't do with actual SFH applicants because those are subject to discrimination rules/ laws etc. You are allowed to decide exactly what type of person you want living in your house and being left alone with your belongings. 22k in credit card debt looks a little intense so thats a flag. more importantly, unless you are in desperate need of income from the room, I'd wait for the right person to come along with a compatible routine. So little you know about this guy.... You are asking the internet if you should be living with someone, that's highly subjective and I would only do it if its a good fit, not just because it makes you money...

I have to get a stranger roommate because I lost half my income.   I am only concerned about the financial risk with this discussion.   I understand all those other quality life of risks.   He works a lot and seems decent.  The only thing he would be moving in are his clothes and he would have to buy a bed.  

I'm assuming this will be a month-to-month lease, so it will be easier to evict him if it's not working out.  I'm also assuming no criminal history as you didn't mention it but said you ran a background check.  If my state allowed first, last and security on a month-to-month, and I didn't get a creepy feeling, I'd probably be okay with it if I was looking for  a roommate.  

Thx Lynn!  yes it will be a month to month lease.   I did mention he had no criminal record.   

@Dave Mustaine I would be fine with the financial risk except for the civil judgement.  I would want some more info on what that was all about.  If you otherwise seem fine with him personality-wise, then I would probably go for it.  

There are prospective tenants out there without judgments and collections against them. If this is your first time you likely should not take chances.

I think the risk of him not paying the rent is the same weather it's my first time renting or not. I've already done a lot of research on the eviction process.  It's definitely a tough call and apparently a borderline case.    I'm sure I could get someone with no judgements or collections but that could take a few months.   

 I only talked to him for about 10 minutes so I don't really know his personality.   I can already tell he would just be a roommate and not a friend.   One thing that was a little annoying.  He would ramble on slowly for too long without letting me talk.  

correction:  he was here about 20 minutes.  Why can't we edit posts?  

I might take more risks if I really needed the money.  Can you ask him about the red flags?  

I'd personally get a 2nd job before I'd let a stranger move into my house.   But I'm strange that way.  I value my privacy.

@Brian Mathews  I would too. 

 @Dave Mustaine Is there any way to bring in more income, even short term, to give yourself more time to look for a roommate?  Do you have any friends who might want to room with you in the near future?

Originally posted by @Dawn Brenengen:

I might take more risks if I really needed the money.  Can you ask him about the red flags?  

 I left him a voicemail about 7 hours ago that I needed to ask him some questions about his  credit report.   I'll try to get the fine details on the judgement and collections  if/when he calls me back.   He paid $33 so you would think he would call me back, but ya never know it's not easy revisiting deep wounds.  

Originally posted by @Dawn Brenengen:

@Brian Mathews  I would too. 

 @Dave Mustaine Is there any way to bring in more income, even short term, to give yourself more time to look for a roommate?  Do you have any friends who might want to room with you in the near future?

Originally posted by @Dave Mustaine:

correction:  he was here about 20 minutes.  Why can't we edit posts?  

You certainly can edit a post; the "Edit" link is just to the left of your post, but it only allows an edit for a brief time (10 or 15 minutes); after that time it changes to an "Update" link where you can only supplement or explain the post.

I don't get any Edit links but I'm on my ipad.    This renting attempt has been so frustrating for 3 weeks.   I've modified my ad countless times, excellent pictures, and it's a great deal.    I've probably received about 25 emails and spent a lot of time responding.   Only 2 of those people called.   At least 5 of them we scams trying to steal my personal info.   

I was suckered by one of the first replies , which was identical to the verbiage in link below but they used another name.  Sent me pictures too.  I wasted about 12 hours  responding and trying to decide if I should take her.   She got my real email and then I suddenly got bombarded with email spam.

Not even sure you can list a room for rent on Postlets (zillow, yahoo, etc.), or if it has to be the whole unit, but our last rental, we listed on Postlets and craigslist, and Postlets had many more inquiries and a much better quality of applicant.  The few inquiries we did get from craigslist were a bit creepy, and none of those worked out.  I likely won't post an ad on craigslist for rental property again.  

Originally posted by @Dave Mustaine:

I don't get any Edit links but I'm on my ipad.   ...

If you were to use safari instead of the BP app, you would see the edit links. The app is not full featured at this time, so I use safari on my iPhone.

I finally talked to the prospective roommate.    The civil judgement was from a medical dispute.   He had cancer and racked up like 400k in bills.  He said he had no idea what the. 2012 collections was from.    It turns out he makes 4200 per month , which is more than I thought before.    

I told him I for sure needed first, last, plus security deposit.    My ad said just first plus security so I don't think he expected that.   He got off the phone rather abruptly  and said he was going to check out some other places and get back to me.   Also, his 17k Amex balance on the report  he swears is not his.   He said he has never had an Amex.   But maybe it's his x wife's from many years ago.    The balance was current though. 

I don't think you can post roommate ads on Postlets.  

Updated over 4 years ago

He said he has $5000 in the bank.

There are tenants with cleaner backgrounds and fewer questions than this. You should be cautious. From reading the posts and your various replies you seem anxious to rent quickly and unused to lags in the rental process. Impatience can be very costly as letting in a bad tenant creates far more problems than a month of two of vacancy does. Be patient, keep looking.

To many red flags. Be patient or drop the price to get a wider pool of applicants.

I decided I'm not going to take him after reading all the posts here.  I also read somewhere that as a general rule,  the better their credit report the better they usually are as a roommate.   I lowered my price today.   Thanks everyone your help is much appreciated!

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