Tenant wants to add in husband with criminal record - need advice

56 Replies

Current situation, I rented a duplex out to a single mom with kids two months ago.  She's on section 8.  Section 8 pays 100% of the rent.  I received a letter from section 8 saying that she got married so she'll need to add her husband to the lease since he'll be staying with them at the duplex.  I took his application and ran it.  It has a long list of criminal history, from misdemeanor (battery, domestic, theft), to felony (stolen vehicle, drug...).  Some of which occurred last year.   

I'm not sure what do now.  I don't want to rent to him.  But at the same time, it's expensive to ask them to move and look for a new tenant.  Also, is it legal to deny the person base on criminal history? 

Thoughts?  Comments?

If the husband doesn't meet your rental criteria based on his criminal history (he certainly wouldn't meet mine with that background), then you have the right to deny his application. 

In my opinion, you'd be asking for trouble allowing him to move in with that type of criminal history - especially considering how recent it is.

Keep in mind that no matter what you decide, there's a good chance the tenant will move the husband in anyway.  So I'd definitely follow-up on it if you do decide to deny his application. 

If the husband does end up moving in, you'll have to issue the tenant a notice (in my state it's called a "cure or quit" notice, but I believe in your state it is called a "comply or vacate" notice).  It's basically notifying the tenant that they are not complying with some term of the lease (other than payment of rent) and they need to correct it or move out.

Would you want someone with a record like that living next door to you?  Don't let a bad choice drive out your good resident.

With a criminal history that recent you are potentially inviting problems to your property if you allow him, but if you don't allow him, he will most likly move-in anyway since he is the husband.

I would have a 'come to Jesus' conversation with him. Tell him that you know about his criminal history and normally this would disqualify him, but since he your good tenants husband (and b/c you are such a nice Landlord), you are willing to give him a chance (as long as they pay an additional security deposit). Tell him you are watching the property closely and if you get so much as one complaint from anyone he will have forced an eviction on his entire family.

Medium grace 8x10Marc Cunningham, Grace Property Management & Real Estate | http://www.RentGrace.com | CO Agent # EA-4000-6743

Exceptions invite discrimination claims. Stick to your rules! That's best for everyone. Good luck!

I agree with the general consensus. You don't want to risk that bad behavior starting back up again on your property. If it was a decade ago I am flexible. 1 year? No. Old habits die hard. Finding a new tenant may be a pain/costly but this guy could give you a lot more grief/pain then you would endure tenant screening again. Also consider your other tenants. I would not be happy with you if I lived nextdoor to a sweet single mom and this guy moved in. I wouldn't feel safe either. 

Medium head icon colorRyan Dossey, Call Porter | http://Callporter.com | IN Agent # RB15001099

Originally posted by @Melanie Smith :

Exceptions invite discrimination claims. Stick to your rules! That's best for everyone. Good luck!

 Melanie - I agree with your comment about exceptions inviting discrimination claims. However - the question is which exceptions are legitimate and which are illegitimate. Legitimate exceptions are for just this type of purpose. If the husband of an existing resident wants to move in with his wife - I think that is worthy of considering an exception to your policy.

Medium grace 8x10Marc Cunningham, Grace Property Management & Real Estate | http://www.RentGrace.com | CO Agent # EA-4000-6743

Originally posted by @Marc Cunningham :

 Melanie - I agree with your comment about exceptions inviting discrimination claims. However - the question is which exceptions are legitimate and which are illegitimate. Legitimate exceptions are for just this type of purpose. If the husband of an existing resident wants to move in with his wife - I think that is worthy of considering an exception to your policy.

 I have to disagree.  I don't know what the section 8 rules are but I would do what is necessary to make them move.  These situations rarely turn out well.

I'm getting references from his current landlords and go from there.  Thanks for your input so far!  

Tenants in general can be challenging to deal with.  Sometimes reasonable people can even have difficulties when it comes to issues that are in a gray area.  This is magnified by a great deal when it comes to people that are unreasonable. 

We have had to evict people knowing that they would cause distress along the way.  Our choice is usually to take it now rather than prolong the situation. 

Being a landlord is a tough job that we all need to come to grips with.  I have had tenants that assaulted managers physically.  Even put one in the hospital.  I have been threatened by people bumping up against me and in my face.  My truck has been keyed before, a bucket of paint was thrown on the side of my building, and feces were smeared on the office doors.  Confrontations over numerous rule violations occur on a regular basis.  Sometimes people think that they can sit out front with all there buddies, drink, and throw empty beer bottles into the yard.  Other times people let there pets into the pool and don't understand why that is a problem.  The issues never quit.  I even had a drug dealer ask me for more security protection.  There are many more examples that I could quote.

I have managed hundreds of units at a time over many years.  This does not mean that you will run into these types of issues but the likelihood is high.

I just have one question.... Why make it harder?

@Marc Cunningham  I agree husbands and wives should be able to live together, but if one doesn't meet the rules it's not fair to ask the landlord and other tenants to expose themselves to the potential risk and drama. That's what I meant by its best for everyone if you stick to the rules. I'm this case that may mean the wife and htsbsbd go live together somewhere else. Win win in my book.

i meant "husband" not "htsbsbd". Good for nothing auto correct! :)

I am curious since section 8  is income based and she is now married, doesn't everyone need to apply again?  

Currently section 8 pays 100% of rent.  We don't know what's going to happen to that until she talks to them on Monday.   Section 8 is requiring her to add her husband to the lease other wise her section 8 would be terminated since she is violating her lease agreement by having him live there.  Her husband is not employed at the moment so there is no additional income to consider.  

@Kayla Truong  , I would double check with your PHA to make sure you can deny him from the lease (I'm 99% sure you can) provided he doesn't meet your usual rental application requirements (doesn't sound like he'd meet anyone's). 

I'm actually surprised they're ok with letting him on the voucher. Each PHA has some leeway as to what criminal history they're ok with, other than a list of automatically disqualifying previous offences (like being a sex offender, etc.), but that seems like a much longer list of serious stuff than most would let go. The only explanation I can think of is that the offences are all old. Even so, still more than most would approve of. If he has income, they would almost certainly start paying a portion of their rent themselves.

Personally, I wouldn't allow him to move in if I wasn't comfortable with him living there, as this seems like a recipe for drama and legal issues (DV, CPS, other violence, drugs, etc.). They will likely move out on their own if you explain he isn't approved and you'll move to evict (and cause them to lose their voucher) if he moves in anyway. Don't trade a short term buck for long term drama (and the associated costs!).

Originally posted by @Melanie Smith :

@Marc Cunningham I agree husbands and wives should be able to live together, but if one doesn't meet the rules it's not fair to ask the landlord and other tenants to expose themselves to the potential risk and drama. That's what I meant by its best for everyone if you stick to the rules. I'm this case that may mean the wife and htsbsbd go live together somewhere else. Win win in my book.

 You are probably correct Melanie. I was just trying to be generous and compassionate to someone ELSE'S problem tenants; rather than mine :)

Medium grace 8x10Marc Cunningham, Grace Property Management & Real Estate | http://www.RentGrace.com | CO Agent # EA-4000-6743

This is a tough spot. Unlike somethings in real estate...for this one past behavior does predict future behavior. I guess this is par for the course with section 8ers. I would personally draw the line at recent criminal activity. Now with that said there might be a chance he will be back in the slammer soon if you maintain the status quo. How long will a criminal with no job revert back to being a criminal? Not very long according to his record.

It doesn't matter if you don't add him to the lease, he is going to be living there. She will allow him to move in and hide his things whenever she knows you are coming over. Seen it happen many times.

Medium logoShanequa J., Vantage Investment Properties | (713) 481‑2468 | http://www.housesbyvip.com | TX Agent # 655962

@Kayla Truong  I would contact his current landlord I would say if he pays his rent his personal matters should not really matter.  Now if he doesn't pay and has issues I would just say pass.  But in your case the section 8 pays 100% of the rent and he does not destroy your property or cause trouble in his current residents might not be a problem.  It is a tough call you just gotta go with your gut on this one.

I would call section 8 explain my policy of not letting criminal with recent violent record be tenant.  You may have to talk with a supervisor to see what they say.  I will be terminating the lease.  It just too much of a chance of continuous criminal activity of a violent nature.

Is there any potential liability issue here?  If @Kayla Truong  knowlingly allows a criminal to live in her unit and that tenant causes trouble, can Kayla be held liable in any way?

Liam Goble, HBS Real Estate, LLC | 814.876.5034 | http://harebraininvestments.com

I wouldn't do it.  You have a policy of tenants with no criminal records and/or records no earlier than 7 years/10 years, what ever you pick.  Stick to it.  I hear horror stories of people who move in after a tenant signs a lease (with not criminal record) and they're the ones that damage the apartment, won't leave, etc.  Don't do it, Don't do it, Don't do it.

Just the fact that you posted it here, means you have reservations.

Tom

P.S. If you do do it, let me know in 6 months how it turned out.

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Follow your standardized operating procedures. You should have written policies in place for situations such as this. If not, get you some and go by it faithfully. Once you have made an exception for one then you can get yourself in a bind with legal issues such as discrimination suit on the next perso who you deny with similiar backgrounds. Stick with your past criteria and make your decisions accordingly.