I'm going with my gut...

18 Replies

I'm going with my gut and I know some *concerned* individuals might lecture me :)

As I talked about in a previous post, one of my applicants warned me that he had an eviction on his report but his name wasn't on the lease. I had them over to discuss it and the situation is that his ex-wife wife was a little bit of a con artist and forged his signature - he's fighting it and I saw the legal proceedings that are happening, including her history of forgery. He's been divorced for a few years now and is trying to leave her legacy behind.

He also makes solid income - he makes 3.6 times rent - and has been with his company for a decade. I talked to his current landlord and they're sad to see them go and have tried throwing extra incentives in to make them stay.

So I'm going with my gut. He has an eviction in his name currently from 2010, but all the positives (1) solid income (2) stable job and (3) glowing current landlord reference are telling me yes.  His wife's income is a little lower and I know some people want both the husband and wife to meet the 3x rent rule. She makes 2.4 times rent. They're newlyweds (2 years) so hopefully nothing happens to the marriage, but if something does there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to pay the lease through or an early termination fee penalty of 1.5 month's rent.

Let all the concerned Aunt Suzies step forward...

Sometimes you gota go with your gut.  Hope they work out ok.

'

Between them they make 6 times the rent?  That sounds worth taking a chance on, frankly.  Good luck.

Lisa, The gut seems to always know when to walk and when to keep. I think you have it

We look for 3x rent for household income (not per individual), or 2.5x with additional security deposit, so these tenants far surpass that.

We also allow for an eviction in the past, depending on the situation, when it was, how they have performed since, and whether full restitution was made. Sounds like his is an interesting case. Seems to me the landlord would name him on the eviction paperwork if either his name was on the lease or he was occupying the unit. I would contact the landlord who filed the eviction and get more of the story. It does pose a bit of a risk if he contributed to the problem that lead to the eviction. If the risk wasn't great, I might accept him as a tenant, but with additional security deposit.

It makes a difference that you've met these folks. I approved a tenant with a pretty serious felony on his record. It was 10 years old, and he talked with me about his current stable job, home situation, etc. Gave me great landlord references. He and his family have been great tenants. If I just looked at "Oh, they have a felony on their background check," I would have passed on them.

Truth is, my worst tenants have been ones that RE agents found for me that I approved just because they met the criteria on paper. The best tenants have been ones I've met in person at open houses, talked to extensively, and made a decision that they were the kind of tenant I wanted.

Originally posted by @Lisa Ryan :

I'm going with my gut and I know some *concerned* individuals might lecture me :)

As I talked about in a previous post, one of my applicants warned me that he had an eviction on his report but his name wasn't on the lease. I had them over to discuss it and the situation is that his ex-wife wife was a little bit of a con artist and forged his signature - he's fighting it and I saw the legal proceedings that are happening, including her history of forgery. He's been divorced for a few years now and is trying to leave her legacy behind.

He also makes solid income - he makes 3.6 times rent - and has been with his company for a decade. I talked to his current landlord and they're sad to see them go and have tried throwing extra incentives in to make them stay.

So I'm going with my gut. He has an eviction in his name currently from 2010, but all the positives (1) solid income (2) stable job and (3) glowing current landlord reference are telling me yes.  His wife's income is a little lower and I know some people want both the husband and wife to meet the 3x rent rule. She makes 2.4 times rent. They're newlyweds (2 years) so hopefully nothing happens to the marriage, but if something does there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to pay the lease through or an early termination fee penalty of 1.5 month's rent.

Let all the concerned Aunt Suzies step forward...

 Aunt Suzie here!

So, if his name wasn't on the lease - where did she forge his signature?

Hey, you've been warned by people who have been burned by this type of applicant, so you're on your own now, and you are obviously going to trust your gut rather than listen to seasoned professionals.  I sincerely hope it's worth the risk to you, and none of us get the chance to say we told you so.

Everything in this business involves risk.  The key is evaluating the risk and getting the proper price for it.  While many can speak from experience, @Lisa Ryan is in the best position to evaluate the risk in this deal.  It sounds as though she has done so And the applicants are otherwise very qualified.  Compare this to the insurance industry - if carriers refused to provide Coverage for anyone who had a prior claim, then none of us would have insurance.  

sounds like your gut feeling has some pretty solid arguments..he more than qualifies, and shows stability in his life..and if he's willing to openly talk to you and show you proof of his legal proceedings, this is a no doubter..

So I would say that this is the sort of tenant that will be renting for a long time, and that could be good for you if they perform well as tenants. The reason I suspect they will rent for a long time are: divorce can trash credit; forged ID has likely resulted in judgments that could be hard to make go away; and probably not much in savings because of both of those reasons. 

The glowing reviews from current landlord could be a good sign, or could be part of a con. Did you research the owner of their current rental, and did you get that owner's contact info on your own? Or did that all come from the applicant who could have anybody pose as the current landlord?  Have you visited the tenant's current home?

Thanks everyone for the feedback! Since they are a higher risk due to the eviction, do you think I should only offer them a 1 year lease at $1,500 or stick with the 2 year lease at $1,400 that they want?

@Steve Babiak

I don't think the current landlord reference is part of a scam, but I did think of that. I know I've heard that current landlords can say all great things because they're trying to get the people out, or they could have a friend pose as the landlord. I received the landlord's contact information from the application, but started the phone call with "I'm processing an application for X & Y and your name is on the application. What is your relationship with them?". I got that piece of advise from an old thread - that way if they're having someone act like the current landlord that's actually not, they might get tripped up and forget who they're supposed to be. They live a few miles across town, of course directly across from my ex. I did a drive by, everything looks fine from the outside. Luckily the ex wasn't home because that would have been awkward and he probably would think I'm stalking him.

Originally posted by @Lisa Ryan :I don't think the current landlord reference is part of a scam, but I did think of that. I know I've heard that current landlords can say all great things because they're trying to get the people out, or they could have a friend pose as the landlord. I received the landlord's contact information from the application, but started the phone call with "I'm processing an application for X & Y and your name is on the application. What is your relationship with them?". I got that piece of advise from an old thread - that way if they're having someone act like the current landlord that's actually not, they might get tripped up and forget who they're supposed to be. They live a few miles across town, of course directly across from my ex. I did a drive by, everything looks fine from the outside. Luckily the ex wasn't home because that would have been awkward and he probably would think I'm stalking him.

 Google the address where he supposedly lived, do the same with the ex-landlord's phone number.  Look up the owner's name in the city/county records and contact the owner directly.

Calling the number he provided, and asking them what their relationship is with the applicant, does not give you any proof that this person is/was his landlord.

I woke up thinking about this thread.  And it occurred to me to ask you to pretend someone came to you with this story, and what your advice would be:

I have an applicant with an eviction on his record.  He says it's there because his ex-wife was a manipulative con artist who forged signatures.  He provided proof to me that his wife is a forger.  And yet, he was unable to convince the eviction judge that he was not guilty.  He also says he refused to pay the debt the court says he owes because he believes the court was wrong.

Should I rent to him?

Drive by is not the same as an in home visit. The in home visit is more important because that is what your place will soon look like if you choose them as tenants.

When you take the approach you used in the call to the phone number on the application, you have to distort some pieces of the information on the application to see whether the person you are speaking with is told to just go along with questions or whether it is really a landlord you're speaking with. Things like the move in date (change month and year), the rent amount, the security deposit amount, who paid utilities, etc.  When you give a landlord wrong information for all those things, the landlord will tend to correct the distorted items. 

@Sue K.

That's good advise, next time I'll innocently tell the landlord some incorrect information. Do you normally do a home visit for all potential applicants?

Originally posted by @Lisa Ryan :

@Sue K.

That's good advise, next time I'll innocently tell the landlord some incorrect information. Do you normally do a home visit for all potential applicants?

Yes, an IN HOME visit is a must unless this is somebody relocating from a distance and I choose not to travel that far. 

BTW - the in home visit is one of the last things I do in the screening process; most are rejected before we get that far. 

Originally posted by @Lisa Ryan :

@Sue Kelly

I had looked up the owner records in the public database :) I also talked to the previous 3 landlords today, dating back to 2005, and all of them have good things to say. Even the one that has the judgment against the guy said it's the ex-wife that's a nut. I found all the numbers independently. I understand what you're saying with the hypothetical situation, but I think in this case I am going to go ahead & trust my gut. I also completely understand that if you're running many rentals you can't waiver at all and therefore this guy would be told a big fat no, but since this is my one and only rental I feel like I have a little more flexibility. I also spent a fair amount of time digging through court documents, finding phone numbers, and talking to previous landlords which you wouldn't have time to do for a lot of units. I recognize that.

@Steve Babiak

That's good advise, next time I'll innocently tell the landlord some incorrect information. Do you normally do a home visit for all potential applicants?

 Well, of course, since you only have one rental, you have a lot less to lose than someone who has many rentals.

Somehow I don't see the logic in that.

You are not in me with this fight.  I have absolutely nothing to lose here.

I hope you "win" with this loser tenant.  Honestly, I do.  If I win or lose our "discussion," it won't affect my bank account one way or another.  I was trying to save yours.  Why?  I have no idea. I have no skin in your game whatsoever.

@Steve Babiak

 How do you inform a prospective tenant that there will be a home visit, is it stated on the initial application? Secondly, do you use a checklist during the visit?

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