Applicant with no SSN

39 Replies

Need some advice, please.

We have a lot of Hispanic families in my rental neighborhood, but they rarely apply for our units (not sure why, except some Craigslist ads do advertise that they speak Spanish), so I don't have a lot of experience with this.

We got an application where the husband has a SSN and what appears to be a W-2 job.  The wife does not have a SSN, does not work.  There are two school aged kids if that is relevant.  They have lived in the US for at least 8 years.  They are scoring very high on my screening criteria, have a lot of the attributes I look for in a tenant.

I'm not sure what to do about the wife though.  What questions should I be asking and how can I run a background check without out a SSN?  I am more concerned about criminal than credit, but am wondering what other considerations there are, and what others would do in my situation?

I'm sure others will have differing opinions but if the husband qualifies by all your criteria I wouldn't sweat the wife not having an SSN but that's just me.

319‑213‑7458 | Podcast Guest on Show #110

@Michele Fischer,

A background check is run with a full name and a DOB not by SSN. Hispanic people are different then anyone else the wife stay home and take of the children.

Joe Gore

I'm with Glenn  I would go  with the husbands qualifications.

@Michele Fischer  Many latinos have ITIN (individual tax identification number) in place of a SSN for the purpose of working, getting a bank account etc. That's something an independent latin woman / devorced single mother looking for work would need. Yet the husband is the only bread winner & will be the only one paying rent and all of the bills for that matter.

If you're concerned about the wife's legalized citizenship status just ask for some form of government ID from her. If she doesn't have a visa, birth certificate... then that's a horse of another color. 

Kudos,

Mary

@Mary B.,

An ITIN is not to be used as credit only for tax purpose. What does legalize citizenship status have to do with renting to someone they could be here on a tourist visa?


Joe Gore

I agree with others.  I would definitely consider renting to this applicant.  

@Joe Gore 

 There is a reason why the OP is concerned about the Mrs. not having an SSN, whatever that may be. That's why I suggested seeing if she has government ID, be it a visa, birth certificate etc. This may be sufficient enough for the OP in the absence of the SSN. 

Maybe she has an ITIN which is just as good as a SSN. If all the OP wants is an official form of ID, a birth certificate, visa(whatever kind) or ITIN either would be good. However, in the event the OP is concerned with her citizenship due to the wife not being able to provide NONE OF THE ABOVE, then that's what it is. Whether you agree, like it or not some people don't want to get involved with illegal immigrants. Doesn't matter to me either way. I'm simply looking at the situation from various angles.

Kudos,

Mary

This may be one of those "gut" judgements, but when I think of criminal offenders, a married mother of 2 is not the profile on the top of my list. I would weigh the absence of this information with the Husbands records, and use your judgement about the character of the couple, based on your interactions. Seems like it should be alright. And if I may *gasp* stereotype, Hispanics usually have a deep family and religion oriented culture; that would further ease my mind about the criminal concerns. Best of luck to you!

Originally posted by @Joe Gore:

@Michele Fischer,

A background check is run with a full name and a DOB not by SSN. Hispanic people are different then anyone else the wife stay home and take of the children.

Joe Gore

Another example of GIGO. Joe, I have a tenant family where the parents' first language is Spanish (they are originally from Mexico) and both of the parents go to work. And I have had other Hispanic applicants where the mothers also went to work at jobs outside the home. And it seems I have a number of business cards for house cleaning left at my house where the names on the cards were those of Hispanic females. 

This post has been removed.

Sounds to me like he is trying to have the American dream. His family in the nice home he is able to provide for them. I would also think he would be a legal citizen since he has his SS#, and if she is married to him would make her legal also. We did have a factory here though, that had 6 people using the same SS#. When they were raided the place also got into trouble because of that. That has nothing to do with renting, but it is something the illegals do around me. There are many that work hard to get their citizenship, and work hard to give their family here a good life, and help the loved ones back home. For some reason most foreigners that come to America, seems to be motivated to achieve. I would let them have it. Since he has passed and will be the one making the payment. 

Originally posted by @Terri Lewis:

For some reason most foreigners that come to America, seems to be motivated to achieve.  

It's called "selection bias" :)

1. Foreigners coming to the US are by definition taking proactive steps to improve their life. Your average deadbeat won't bother.

2. Often, they did not grow up with the same level of easy material abundance either.

Originally posted by @Terri Lewis:

... I would also think he would be a legal citizen since he has his SS#, and if she is married to him would make her legal also. ...

When a foreign national gets their so called "green card" they get a SSN. So having the SSN does not make that foreign national a citizen. Once they are legally in the USA they can go through the naturalization process to become citizens, but until the citizenship happens the spouse must get a "green card" also and that would give the spouse their own SSN. 

Thanks for the lively discussion, everyone.

I've been running a broader criminal check as a package with the credit check, so had lost sight of the fact that I can run it myself for specific states with just a DOB.

The husbands SSN came back as high alert - issued before he was born, multiple people using it, so I am dealing with the horse of another color.

Hi Michele,

First everyone stay away from political views on this topic please. It will not be allowed and will be shut down.

We are here to help Michele with her question not debate politics and policies.

Secondly Michele since the SSN came back as high alert then likely they might be here illegally.

I do not know of a current law ( I have no clue ) that requires you do not rent to illegals. There are laws related to hiring and screening for illegals. So for instance if you used a maintenance person on a property who you hired directly and they were illegal that could open you up to liability. If you used a contractor service or company it is on them to screen or document their workers.

Now what you would need to check on is collections and judgments rights on illegals as renters. Meaning if things go bad what kind of recourse do you have on illegals here??

What job does the man have on the application?? If it's a contractor watch out. I have had contractor tenants in the past. Their income fluctuates by the job and the seasons. In those cases if I took a tenant on getting rent in advance would be key due to fluctuating incomes that average out over a 12 month span. I find when money is good tenants live "high on the hog" but during the lean months they don't save and are in trouble.

Larger families tend to wear down rentals due to volume of traffic at the rental property.

Hope it helps.

     

Medium allworldrealtyJoel Owens, All World Realty | [email protected] | 678‑779‑2798 | http://www.AWcommercial.com | Podcast Guest on Show #47

@Michele Fischer I don't want to hijack this thread but I'd like to hear about your next steps in vetting a tenant where the SS# is flagged. If the number is older than he is it may be an open & shut evaluation, but I'd still be interested in your resolution.

I think with the new developments you may want to reconsider. I would think that as a part of your lease agreement you would have a clause that nullifies the agreement if you find falsified information. I would personally shut it down at this point. do it right or not at all. Also, what Joel said.

Originally posted by @Michele Fischer:

Thanks for the lively discussion, everyone.

I've been running a broader criminal check as a package with the credit check, so had lost sight of the fact that I can run it myself for specific states with just a DOB.

The husbands SSN came back as high alert - issued before he was born, multiple people using it, so I am dealing with the horse of another color.

 The information that you've given would make me say no.  Being in the county seat of an ag area, I've seen stuff like this.  In a worst case scenario, the people you're looking at wind up being "judgement proof", so if it goes south, you've got no real recourse.  You can't even prove their identity.  I'm not trying to impugn the reputation of the folks you're looking at, but there are way too many red-flags for my comfort.

That being said, I had occasion to rent to my daughter's preschool teachers family.  He had really bad credit, and hers never checked out.  Three years in, and they've been some of my best tenants.  Rent is never on time, but they always pay plus a $25 late fee, and the place is in good shape.  Point being, if you've got some undisclosed knowledge of the folks, it's a different story, but with the information given, I'd eat the lost rent and look at the next app.

Good luck, and, please, keep us appraised of your decision. 

Originally posted by @Mary B.:

@Michele Fischer  Many latinos have ITIN (individual tax identification number) in place of a SSN for the purpose of working, getting a bank account etc. That's something an independent latin woman / devorced single mother looking for work would need. Yet the husband is the only bread winner & will be the only one paying rent and all of the bills for that matter.

If you're concerned about the wife's legalized citizenship status just ask for some form of government ID from her. If she doesn't have a visa, birth certificate... then that's a horse of another color. 

Kudos,

Mary

In CA you cannot ask a tenant applicant for proof of citizenship or legal residency. They can volunteer supplemental ID such as visas or a green card, but you can't ask for proof of legal residency.  What's the law in Washington?  I"m pretty sure requiring a social security number crosses over into discrimination territory here.

What ID can she provide?  A birth cert? passport? driver's license?

I might be able to post the outcome tomorrow, my husband and are are still "discussing" it.  According to our process, they are in a holding status pattern - not bad enough to accept but not bad enough to turn down.  Praying for a stronger application to appear or further information to come to the surface.

They have both provided DMV identification numbers, which we will photograph if we move forward.  We would require a co-signer, which they initially offered and we initially thought would not be needed.  Their prior landlord only speaks Spanish, and we don't, and I cannot verify the owner via assessor records because it is California (CA doesn't have address search), so I can't put much weight on their six years of prior rental history.  I cannot find anything in the WA tenant-landlord law to address whether requiring a SSN is discriminatory.    It certainly doesn't work well with our established screening process.  We can disqualify for providing false information, but this doesn't seem as blatant as the person we recently disqualified for having a friend pose as the landlord.

I've used Smartmove available through this site a couple times now.  Prospective tenant's SSN remains private, landlord doesn't know.  The system comes back with a yes/no/maybe kind of suggestion to the landlord.  If it says no, you have it seems to me a legitimate basis for saying no ... hey, your credit report said no, not me.  I like it because it's a uniform non-discriminatory way of qualifying a tenant.  

Wow! Surprising responses from people living in other states... In NC, using a false SSN is against state law.

14-100.1. Possession or manufacture of certain fraudulent forms of identification
http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_14/GS_14-100.1.html

14-113.20. Identity theft.
http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/ByArticle/Chapter_14/Article_19C.html

§ 14-113.20. Identity theft.
(a) A person who knowingly obtains, possesses, or uses identifying information of another person, living or dead, with the intent to fraudulently represent that the person is the other person for the purposes of making financial or credit transactions in the other person's name, to obtain anything of value, benefit, or advantage, or for the purpose of avoiding legal consequences is guilty of a felony punishable as provided in G.S. 14-113.22(a).
(b) The term "identifying information" as used in this Article includes the following:
(1) Social security or employer taxpayer identification numbers.
(2) Drivers license, State identification card, or passport numbers.
(3) Checking account numbers.
...

(emphasis mine)

Since the landlord is aware of the false SSN, 18 U.S. Code § 4 - Misprision of felony applies:

Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/4

My opinion only. Not legal advice or anything else construed as such....