Renting to someone without SSN?

14 Replies

So I had someone today call in response to my "For Rent" sign. She said that she is looking for a place for her, her boyfriend and his two brothers. She said that she is having a hard time finding a place. The three men are Spanish and another landlord told her that he will not rent to Spanish people.

I told her that it is illegal to discriminate race, so as long as they qualify after the application/background check they could be considered. She said that they don't have social security numbers.

I am not having a good feeling about this. I haven't had anyone apply without a SSN and don't think that I can run the background/credit/criminal check without one. Does anyone else have experience with this type of scenario?

@Beth L.  

Not being a U.S.A. citizen, I have no SSN number, however, I rented in the U.S.A. for a couple of years.  If you can determine these folks are legally in the country, I wouldn't think you could discriminate against them for not having an SSN?

Here we are allowed to ask for a person's Social Insurance Number (SIN) - the Canadian equivalent of SSN - but cannot insist that a person provide it.  Due to privacy laws, a tenant candidate is not obligated to supply their SIN number.   In our application process we explain very clearly why we ask for the number (credit history check) and make it clear if they choose not to provide it we may not be able to assess their credit history {especially if they have a common name} resulting in rejection of their application. 

I have two friends in the same situation. They do not have SSN but they are here under a valid student visa until 2016. They have had a hard time finding places to rent but there are a lot of landlords out there that are willing to pay if they show proof of funds. I think you should ask your applicant about the legal status that tehy have here and then go from there. 

Pavel Reyes Valdes, Real Estate Agent in KY (#76010)
Originally posted by @Beth L.:

I am not having a good feeling about this.

 Then I wouldn't do it. Best to trust your gut with this one. 

But something to consider is that people with no SSN's can have a hard time finding a place so sometimes that will work in your favor as far as tenancy. If everything else checked out initially it may be worth it. Just keep in mind if you disqualify them for "not having social security numbers" then you need to absolutely stick to that rule.

I trust my gut. While I don't discriminate I would have trouble renting to three men without social security numbers who don't speak English. while I have never had any foreign business men, I have had them look at my house. Now I do require pay stubs and for them to make 3x rent. So that would help weed any issues. My issue would be move based on their ability to pay.

They can easily be here legally and not have a SSN. I would ask for a Visa or green card to determine their status and go from there.

Ultimatley though I would recommend trusting your gut. It is usually a good indicator of things to come.

If they're here legally then they should at least have an "A Number". I don't know if the background check outfits can research those or not but it's worth asking. If they can't provide a SSN or an A number then I'd have to conclude they're here illegally and you'd have to decide how you feel about working with them.

Upfront money solves most problems

Keep this in mind. No SSN no collections. You cannot get their wages garnished if they leave owing you money. If you don't know how the system works in renting to undocumented individuals, I suggest you don't do so until you have some more education.

I have a buddy who only rents to the above named.   He gets first month last month and a security deposit.  He claims that they are his most loyal and law abiding rental clients.  Vacancies are horrible.

Originally posted by @Scott Pigman:

If they're here legally then they should at least have an "A Number". I don't know if the background check outfits can research those or not but it's worth asking. If they can't provide a SSN or an A number then I'd have to conclude they're here illegally and you'd have to decide how you feel about working with them.

 Scott,

Maybe true now, but wasn't in 2008 - 2010.  I never had an "A" number, but was in the county as a professional under NAFTA.

@Bill S.

We've been able to collect from U.S.A. nationals who have skipped rent and returned home, so I'm not sure why you could not collect from a foreign worker within the country itself?

Originally posted by @Bill S.:

@Roy N. I'm sure you had an SSN or some "number" to pursue your collections with.

 Bill:

An SSN is of little value here in Canada, but we normally collect a passport number and/or student visa numbers.   If the OPs candidates are in the country legally, they would also have a passport and/or visa number, and quite possibly the equivalent of an SSN from their country of origin.

My point above was to refute that an SSN is necessary for collection, it's not.  Sure it may make things easier as the system is designed around residents, but collection from foreign nationals within the country is possible.

I would not hesitate to rent to someone without a SSN if everything else checks out.

Are they students, or here on an professional exchange or a work visa?  I have had nothing but positive experience renting to foreign natonals.  They are super responsible, don't make much noise, don't take things for granted and pay on time.

you will need to make sure they are legal, passports should take care of it.  You may not be able to do a credit criminal check if they have been here in the country only recently, but can certainly verify employment, or if students, proof of sufficient funds in the bank.

Your gut may tell you if they are members of Russian mafia, Colombian or Mexican drug cartels or terrorists.  If they claim their favorite hobby is staying home playing flight simulator in the take off mode but not landing mode, run.