Potential Tenant has kept out-of-state DL for 4 yrs

30 Replies

I am screening a woman and her fiance (mid 40's) who have lived in TX for 4 years.  So far the information about landlord history and income is normal.  On their applications I ask for drivers license number and state and they have both listed a license from a former state.  Their rental and employment history shows them in Texas since 2011 and there is no information about them continuing to do business in their former state. Their current out-of-state licenses will expire within the next year. Is this flag of any sort?  I believe Texas does require new residents to obtain a Texas drivers license.  

I believe most states require new permanent residents to get a license in that state within a reasonable time.  I also believe many people might find it more convenient to wait until their current out-of-state license expires before enduring the fun and joy that is to be had at the Division Of Motor Vehicles.

If everything else checks out, it wouldn't raise a red flag for me.

@Lu Carter

Texas law provides that a person who moves to Texas (and does not fall under one of the few exemptions) must apply for a Texas driver's license within 90 days of taking up residency (Texas Transportation Code).  

Where are their vehicles registered? Tenants who don't change their driver's licenses and/or vehicle registrations within a reasonable period are typically breaking the law. Find out if they are exempt for some reason. I would inquire more. They may be "rule breakers" and disregard our rules too. In my experience, these tenancies usually go south. Our rental agreement requires all tenants to comply with the laws for our jurisdiction as relates to the rental unit and residency. If they become your tenant, will they come clean?

are you they military? I personally always walk if my gut is not happy. On the other hand it could be perfectly reasonable reason.

Before recommending someone deny an applicant wouldn't we need to hear more about their entire profile here?

Denying someone because they haven't updated their DL and that alone seems a little strange.  No?

@Lu Carter if it was me, I could care less where their cars are registered or what there DL says as long as they pay the rent on time, and don't tear my building apart. 

We aren't talking about some major crime here, even if caught, its only a ticket for them. Hardly an issue worth losing a paying tenant. If I was you, I would worry more about:

1. Credit history/Rental payment history

2. Employment History

3. Criminal Record

Those are real issues that are truly important.

I asked my applicant about the license.  The woman told me that she had been divorced about 3 years ago in her former state and that she changed her last name.  She says Texas is asking for her divorce paperwork, etc and making it difficult.  Her fiance was also divorced in his former state.  I'm not sure why he hasn't gotten a Texas license.  Both of their vehicles have Texas plates.  

I guess this sounds reasonable especially for the woman who changed her name.  Of course this is not a serious issue in itself, but I always do a very thorough verification process and try to cross check all info that they provide to me.

It took me two years to change the address on my license and I moved a mile away from my old house.  Some things just aren't a priority some times!

Also, there are also a lot of young Doctors ( read medical/dental residents) who often move out of state  just for the duration of their residency. The move is temporary usually 1-3 years for dental and 3-5 for medical or longer if you add a fellowship. A lot of the residents like to keep their out of state DL and car registration and they never had any problem finding housing. 

We rented in Boston trendy South End for 4 years using CT DL and registrations and the question was never brought up!

If the potential tenants qualify on every other level you should rent to them!

@Lu Carter I always ask to see the DL and take a picture with my iPhone.

They sound too "practiced" in their stories, Next!

Anytime I've had that doubt in my stomach the "good" Tenant proved me right and they were trouble.

Besides, "I've never had a Bad Tenant go Good on Me!"

I agree with the others who see red flags here.  Out of state license & name change & missing divorce papers & living in new state for years without changing the license = denied.

Problems getting divorce papers?  What does that have to do with anything, except to explain her name change without having proof of it.  I see a lot of red flags here.  I wouldn't rent to them just based on the fact that they have lived in TX breaking the law for years.  As others have said, these are people okay with breaking the rules - and for years!  If their stories even have any truth in them.

And, why do both of them still have TX driver's licenses?  That's doubly weird to me.  She got divorced, got a new BF and neither of them changed their licenses?

Sumpin' way too fishy for my tenant radar goin' on here.

I have copied and pasted from my web site our qualifications maybe this will help:

Our Qualifications

  • Amount of applicants: No more than 2 people/ bedroom, 4 people / 2 bedroom apartment including children and adults.
  • Pets: No more than 2 pets, upon pet approval only.
  • Take home pay=at least 3 times rent. Income have to be verifiable.
  • Criminal record : No felony convictions, no violent crimes convictions in the past
  • Eviction record: No evictions in the past (we may consider person who has eviction in the distant past ONLY if it was paid off), no history of property damages from previous rentals.
  • Credit report: No accounts more than 60 days past due (unless it is medical bills or student loans)
  • Positive references from both current and past landlords

Pet approval:

Cats : We allow domestic well trained well cared for indoor cats. If you prefer to let your cat out, it has to be supervised and leashed.

Dogs : We allow adult well trained and well cared for dogs, they should be vaccinated up to date, clean “bite record from the vet” is required. We will request to meet your dog in person prior to signing rental agreement.

Fees:

$35 one time application fee for every adult that will be living in the unit. Nonrefundable, approved or rejected.

$200-$500 – additional security deposit for pets- refundable at the time of move – out if there is no damage to the property, caused by pets or their human guardians.

$ 25 monthly “pet rent” – for every approved pet

Late fees – if rent is late – described in rental agreement after the 6th of the month a notice goes out pay or quit.

Originally posted by @Steven E. :

I have copied and pasted from my web site our qualifications maybe this will help:

Our Qualifications

  • Amount of applicants: No more than 2 people/ bedroom, 4 people / 2 bedroom apartment including children and adults.
  • Pets: No more than 2 pets, upon pet approval only.
  • Take home pay=at least 3 times rent. Income have to be verifiable.
  • Criminal record : No felony convictions, no violent crimes convictions in the past
  • Eviction record: No evictions in the past (we may consider person who has eviction in the distant past ONLY if it was paid off), no history of property damages from previous rentals.
  • Credit report: No accounts more than 60 days past due (unless it is medical bills or student loans)
  • Positive references from both current and past landlords

Pet approval:

Cats : We allow domestic well trained well cared for indoor cats. If you prefer to let your cat out, it has to be supervised and leashed.

Dogs : We allow adult well trained and well cared for dogs, they should be vaccinated up to date, clean “bite record from the vet” is required. We will request to meet your dog in person prior to signing rental agreement.

Fees:

$35 one time application fee for every adult that will be living in the unit. Nonrefundable, approved or rejected.

$200-$500 – additional security deposit for pets- refundable at the time of move – out if there is no damage to the property, caused by pets or their human guardians.

$ 25 monthly “pet rent” – for every approved pet

Late fees – if rent is late – described in rental agreement after the 6th of the month a notice goes out pay or quit.

 So, as far as applicants who haven't changed their driver's licenses for 4 years, and have a story about a name change & missing divorce papers..????

Around here (in NY) a lotttt of people have out of state plates and licenses. It seems to be a game to pay lower auto insurance premiums. Personally I don't like it, I follow the rules and got a NY license as soon as I permanently moved here - but there are a ton of people who do it and that may be the real reason why she is dragging her feet.

Having said that, I have no clue whether the state she has her DL in has better insurance pricing than Texas.

Lu:

I agree with Anthony and your gut check. You are spending too much time on the little stuff. Ask them both for the reason if if sounds realistic, then go for it.

Now, remember there are "Professional Tenants" out there who are people who just don't want to own a place of their own. With that being said they don't do the same things you and I would do so take that into consideration. 

One red flag with me was child payments in arrears - gone baby!

Just ask yourself one question - who is making the mortgage payment on your bldg. next month - Them or You?

Pat

I've moved to different states and taken my time on changing my license.  California was a pain because they required a copy of your birth certificate.  I lived there over a year with an old license and I paid my rent on time and in full every single month.

Just saying' the license thing wouldn't bother me because it's not alway top priority for people and doesn't have much to do with whether or not someone pays their bills...  However, if something else was telling your gut that they'll be a pain, then definitely don't rent to them.

Here is a follow-up to my posting. 

I completed my pre-verification of landlord history and income and all info was acceptable. (The woman's income alone meets 3x the rent.  The man works in construction/property maintenance but I did speak to 2 companies who use him on a regular basis. ) The applicants were eager to pay the deposit and sign the lease. They also offered to sign a 2 year lease. Then I informed the applicants that the next step was the credit/criminal check.  I use mysmartmove and applicants pay the fee online.  Both said great.

Well, that was Friday afternoon and now it is Sunday morning.  Not a peep from them. 

I wouldn't deny them just on the driver's license issue, but I would let them know if they were approved, we would require them to comply with the terms of our rental agreement which includes the following clause:

"GOVERNMENTAL REGULATIONS.  Tenant will comply with all laws, ordinances, public rules, and governmental regulations applicable to said residence or the use thereof."

Four years is way too long to be holding on to a prior state driver's license after making a permanent move to another state. I would be cautious and dig a little deeper.

Being in a city on the state line, common reasons for people not changing their driver's licenses or vehicle plates here include: evading paying registration fees, evading paying sales tax by showing an ID from a state that has no sales tax, evading being tracked down by creditors, evading paying child support, evading the law, planning to move back to the other state soon (short tenancy), wanting to retain some of the benefits of the prior state (library card, voter registration, tax privileges, etc.)  

We prefer to rent to people who are open and honest in their communication and accept responsibility for their actions. What addresses showed up on their credit report, legal check, and former residences check? Did you look back at least 5 years? What about the name change? If she legally changed her name she will need to find those papers or order proof from the government registrar at some point, the sooner the better. Is she willing to do that? If you rent to them, you will need to use their current legal names in the rental agreement and have proof of their names supported by at least two pieces of legitimate ID. They can come clean. It can be done. I wouldn't accept either of their excuses as valid reasons not to.

Originally posted by @Mike Hurney :

@Lu Carter I always ask to see the DL and take a picture with my iPhone.

...

This is a MUST DO for every applicant - no exceptions unless they do not have a driver license in which case they must have some official government issued photo ID that you will take picture of. 

I would put more weight on their credit and background check than the DL issue.

Since you haven't heard from them start processing any other applications. It is not an issue that the drivers license wasn't changed it is how long it was not changed.  4 years is a long time unless they are military when they can keep their home state license I would not accept it from both of them. One can have problems with papers, both having problems does not seem plausible.

We use Rentprep for screening for a few reasons #1 the company doesn't email your application potential tenant for the ok to do it. #2 it was voted #1 of the top ten renter screening sites and i must admit a little pricey ($22.95 without the credit report or FICO number) But I don't usually weight too much on credit report I care about did they pay their rent , did they ever get evicted, did they ever cause damage and if they did any of these things DID they PAY the ex-landlord for all due. oh also do they have any convictions of any kind country wide that's what i want to know.

Sue to answer your question I could care less about out of state drivers lic ( as long as i get a copy of it or know the DL number and the lic plate number and state those things don't matter at all!!! and either does the credit report what matters DID they pay their rent, did they get evicted or did they cause damage to their last apartment and the security dept didn't even cover it that's what you want to know :)

With all due respect to my fellow BP'ers stop with the gut feelings LOL I told this story in an other forum at BP. A well speaking young man called sent him to the web site he looked over the qualifications and wanted to see the apartment. brought his application + $35 bucks drive in a 2010 BMW 311i well dressed good looking guy. loved the apartment handed us the application did a background check and 20 pages printed out rather than 4 he had 31 felony convictions 3 evictions 4 times in his life he did 3 years out of a 5 year sentence and bigest shocker I was alone in the apart with his guy Holy Hell  ( clears voice--- REJECTED- 

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