Can I refuse a tenant if they are not a good match with the people already living there?

8 Replies


I have a two unit property and trying to fill a vacancy in one of the two apartments.
The one unit is currently rented by three college girls in their early twenties.
A man (45), has shown interest in the apartment. He is divorced with two kids.

I am afraid that the current tenants might feel uncomfortable with an older man in the house since there are common areas that are shared (like the laundry room in the basement). The property is an old colonial house and not an apartment building, so interactions between tenants are more frequent.

Can I refuse him the apartment based on this? Is it discrimination? Am I thinking too much about this?

Yes, you're setting your self up by being arbitrary. If you want to turn him down, find a financial or credit reason.

@Al Williamson is correct. You are exposing yourself to either an age-based or child-based (family) discrimination suit. In our litigious society, we must always be mindful of these things (sadly).

With that said, if you cannot find a way out of it - talk to your current tenants. Don't start the conversation with "a potentially creepy single man is moving in", but a "family is moving in next door"... You might be surprised at how welcoming neighbors can be if its setup right.

Are you assuming the college aged females would have a problem with a 45 yr old male tenant or have they expressed concern?

It doesnt matter if the 3 girls feel uncomfortable .  You rent to a qualified tenant , just use the same criteria you used to rent to the other tenants .  Having a 45 year old man living in another unit may make them feel safer . 

This post has been removed.

Sorry for the "Our new book is out" blurb at the end. I didn't mean that to happen. I was trying to get it in my signature, and their doesn't appear to be an "edit" button for posts. 

did you do a background check?  Check credit and especially criminal.  Because of the arrangements of common areas, a certain amount of due diligence is good. Reduce any likelihood of surprises. 

My answer is yes if you refuse to rent one of your units based on sex, age, or children you are setting yourself up. If you have otherwise qualified this potential tenant and his background, credit, income and other criteria check out then there is no reason not to rent to him. Of course what you will do is your call. 

The suggestion to have a talk with the girls in your rented unit might be  a good idea this way at least you will have an indication if they will truly have issue with what you have in mind but still that will not in and of itself justify not renting your other unit based on sex, age, or children. You do not appear to have an issue with children but in this case obviously sex and age is an issue for you. I think I understand your concerns about the safety of the girls. I really do not know what to tell you. I would hate for you to commit an act of discrimination based on anything we tell you. It really is your responsibility and decision.

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