Would you blacklist whole family of an evicted tenant?

12 Replies

This is a bit of a hypothetical, but I'm starting to think it's going to happen at some point. It's also a funny story. :)

I'm currently in the middle of evicting one of my tenants, Nora Jerk. Nora is a single lady with a young daughter. Nora has an identical twin sister, Cora Jerk, who also has a young daughter. (Names changed, but yes, they are identical twins with rhyming names!) Nora works a lot, so Cora is often at the property watching both girls. Or maybe it's Nora. To be honest, Cora could tell me she was Nora and I wouldn't be able to tell. They look that much alike. I would definitely not put it past Nora for her to use it to her advantage, for instance by saying "I never got that notice, you must have given it to my twin while she was here."

Since I can't tell Nora and Cora apart, and I'm evicting Nora, I'm considering blacklisting Cora too. And then I thought, well, at that point I really shouldn't take anyone from the Jerk family. I don't think that "being closely related to at least one jerk" is a protected class, so I think I'm in the clear legally.

But the community I live in so tight-knit, that I might just want to make that a policy for all family members of an evicted tenant. I think it'll come up again in the future. (For added context, Jim lives on the other side of the duplex, and Jim's sister has already said she'd like Nora's unit when it's ready. Lots of families stay right in this town forever, and word of good landlords spreads quickly.)

What would you do? If you've evicted someone, would you accept one of their family members as a tenant?

@Gwen Fyfe ,

If they are both on the lease, whether you give it to Nora or Cora doesn't matter, as long as you have proof it was delivered.    One thing we like to do with pay or quit notices, is post it on the door, and then take a picture and email it to them, so there's no question of it they are aware.. but that's state law specific too ..

Anyhow, I say trust your gut..   you don't have to rent to anyone.. and pick the best applicant.      Part of screening IMO is putting together someone's puzzle pieces together, and trying to project their story and most importantly-- how will they pay rent!    We had 1 mother/daughter/granddaughter apply, and the mother was the sweetest lady, clean slate, hard worker.. but her daughter (30), well recently on her I think 4th eviction last month, and quite possibly the worst history I've ever seen,  so we denied them- it was obvious this lady had no respect for anyone, and would likely soon be screwing over her own mom,  and her mom couldn't pass by herself so.... with your example, yes, we have decided against someone based on the entire application.     

I will say, if it's a single applicant, we would base our decision 100% based on them, as we always view job history and rental history as the most important factors.      Some people are the black sheep... I would still  absolutely due M2M just to be on the safe side if something goes south. 

They are not both on the lease, Nora is the only one on the lease. Cora, supposedly, doesn't live there. And yes, I post it on the door. I'm just giving an example of the type of thing Nora would try to pull. :)

Good thoughts, though. I always have sympathy for a really good person who comes from a bad family... but it's so hard to know if that's what they really are.

If you post it on the door they could say someone came and took it off. I prefer to hand it to them and have them sign it.

I do have a rule that no one is able to rent from one family in my little town.  I broke this rule 2 years ago.  I knew the family was in the drug trade, but this one individual seemed to really break the mold.  He was a hard worker and had started a new business.  Then MURPHY'S Law hit,  I do not think he was dealing but his property became more cluttered, had a lot more traffic than it should and was late 12 times in 18 months.  We eventually was able to get evicted.  

Set your rules for finding tenants, find the best tenants but remember the apple does not fall far from the tree.  

A smart applicant could make a discrimination case if refused based on a "blacklist". Have a consistent process for any application. Most "bad" potential tenants do not make it through a thorough and all encompassing process. 

Originally posted by @Sam C. :

A smart applicant could make a discrimination case if refused based on a "blacklist". Have a consistent process for any application. Most "bad" potential tenants do not make it through a thorough and all encompassing process. 

 So here's my question though - how is "we do not rent to close family members of tenants we have had to evict" different from "we do not rent to anyone with a credit score below 600" or "we do not rent to anyone with prior evictions"? What's the distinction? It's still consistent.

@Gwen Fyfe. It is consistent in its discriminatory requirement.  ("we do not rent to close family members of tenants we have had to evict")

There is only one form of legal discrimination left: financial. If they cannot afford it or qualify financially, you do not have to rent to them. Any other form of denial can be open to a discrimination claim.  "A close family member" ( or anyone for that matter) that qualifies financially cannot be denied in MOST cases. And you must use a qualifying process that is consistent and applied equally. A few exceptions I am aware of are:

Convicted pedophiles/ Megan's Law

Convicted Drug traffickers ( recent convictions/still on parole)

Sec 8 recipients ( you do not have to do repairs required by HUD inspector which will not allow HUD to approve your unit)

Recent eviction due to non payment of rent ( usually means they will not qualify financially.)

FYI: Just about any applicant that I did not want as a tenant does not make it through the application process' financial/credit requirements. But that does not mean a "bad" tenant does not slip through. I have other strategies to deal with paying but unwanted tenants. However, legally evicting a paying tenant is very difficult. You have to have a good amount of supporting DOCUMENTED evidence. Common sense clearly exposes bad applicants but find a legal way to deny. And if you are stuck with a "bad" tenant that pays, do what you can through your lease, local ordinances, police reports etc. to file a landlord-tenant action or make it "uncomfortable" for them to stay in your unit/house.

@Sam C. I really don't think you're correct here. You can't discriminate based on a protected class, but you can "discriminate" based on just about anything else.

Gwen,

I think you will be perfectly fine and avoid any discrimination liability because both sisters have resided in your property even if one of them are not on the lease. When you file an eviction make sure it states the lessee's name and also states "and any other occupants"

If the sister (or the sister that may be the original tenant) comes calling with a completed application attempting to lease the property simply send her away without processing the application or taking the application and your reason is that you had to evict her. Of course she will say you didn't evict her but she was the "any other occupant".

As far as any other applicant from a certain family, providing they are not in a protected class and you don't state anywhere or say that you will not rent to family members, what case would they have if they tried to sue you for discrimination?

I would not rent to family members of a evicted tenant.

It is not discrimination but does not matter to me since I reject applicants without providing reasons. Applicants are not entitled to know why they are not acceptable. Some times I reject simply due to a aura they give off by their personality. I don't care how high they score If I don't connect with them personally. 

I have applicants that refuse to provide specific info (eg. SI#) I require, when I explain I require it regardless and they reluctantly provide the info it is too late for them. I reject their application. Applicants with that personality type generally make for bad tenants.

@Michael Jones Yeah, I don't think they would have any case, as I said in the original post. @Sam C. seems to think that there are only certain things you can base your decision on, which is pretty much the opposite of how it works. Unless there's something strange going on in PA that I don't know about.

My question is more... does that rule make sense to others from a business perspective? (And/or a moral one?)

I definitely think it makes sense. I would not rent to close family of someone I evicted. I probably would not rent to their friends either if I had knowledge of a relationship.
I would go yelling in the streets that that is the reason. I would just quietly move to another applicant.

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