prospective rental candidate owned house in past

15 Replies

I have a prospective renter who says has has owned houses in past 7 years.

So, he does not have a "landlord reference". How to deal with this situation because I can't check any landlord references!!

My biggest question would be why they are choosing to or have to rent now instead of own. That would be a very large part of the decision. Other than that, I would just be extra thorough with the rest of their application information. 

Do you know why they are choosing to rent instead of own?

Did you ask about foreclosures? A former homeowner could be a great tenant if they have stable employment making enough to pay the rent. For example, I rented after a divorce because she got our house. My landlord loved me.

I think @Adam Soelberg makes a great point. The key point would by why he made the decision to transition from homeowner to renter. A simple credit check should be able to confirm a foreclosure or if he had issues paying his mortgage, but it would definitely be good to confirm that. 

In addition, the cynical side of me would verify that he was truly the owner of the property and isn't just trying to bypass the reference check. 

Also, get the addresses of the last homes that says he owned. You can then search the property records on-line through the county tax assessor websites. Then you can determine whether he actually owned what he claimed he owned.

Originally posted by @Account Closed :

Also, get the addresses of the last homes that says he owned. You can then search the property records on-line through the county tax assessor websites. Then you can determine whether he actually owned what he claimed he owned.

 This is what I would do. Beyond that, don't put too much faith in landlord background checks. Lots of previous landlords lie, don't call back at all or won't give you any useful information. We rarely bother with that any more because: people with stable employment, good credit without late payments, not run up every card they own, no criminal record, no evictions, and present themselves as nice, decent people are generally not psychopaths once they get into their unit. In other words, doing a landlord check should be doing nothing more than confirming what you already knew - they're good, decent people. After you've done this for a while you get a pretty good feel for people, or you get shook out of this business. Not to say you can never be fooled - everyone can - but it's easy to catch 99% of the BS artists. 

I just signed a lease with a couple that are longtime home owners.  If they have good credit I would never view it as a neg and potentially a pos (in my case they have far better credit than most applicants/renters).  As others said ask why renting, there are lots of reasons (building a house, moving to a new area, empty nesters, divorce, don't want to deal with homeownership anymore etc).  

From everything I've seen landlord references are the #1 indicator of risk-  when you don't get a response, it's usually because the landlord doesn't want to give you bad news. 

If they've been homeowners, fortunately you'll be able to look at assessor records to verify the property and their credit history will show if they've been paying their mortgage on time. They should be able to order a payment history from the mortgage company if you want more detail. They're reasons for moving make a difference too. If it's the same part of town and the same size property as the house they own, I'd be cautious. 

Originally posted by @Amber Knight :

From everything I've seen landlord references are the #1 indicator of risk-  when you don't get a response, it's usually because the landlord doesn't want to give you bad news. 

If they've been homeowners, fortunately you'll be able to look at assessor records to verify the property and their credit history will show if they've been paying their mortgage on time. They should be able to order a payment history from the mortgage company if you want more detail. They're reasons for moving make a difference too. If it's the same part of town and the same size property as the house they own, I'd be cautious. 

 Source for this.... there's pretty strict rules about a landlord can or can not say. Plus, there's really no incentive for the landlord to say anything negative because they take on additional risk... for what? Plus, let's be honest... if a bad landlord wanted a bad tenant out why not lie and say they are great... get's the tenant gone much faster than the truth.

Credit history would carry more weight than landlord check.... 

Don't see it as an issue as long as everything else checks out fine...i.e didn't lose their house to foreclosure etc.

No doubt I would ask why they are renting now.

I just rented to someone that was in the process of selling their house juts 5 miles away..... place was too big for her now, and the market is so hot she wanted to take advantage of the profit she could make, but has no intention of leaving the area due to family and work etc, so at best she would be selling and buying in the same hot market so it would be a "side move" rather that moving up/down in a property. She was honest and told me she may look to buy a brand new house in the future...... if the market stays warm, I don't think she will be leaving anytime soon

Great credit, income, stable job....everything else was fine. I even went by her house and looked at the listing....she took decent care of it and sold it for some good $$

The upside is that she knows what its like to OWN a house....not just borrow it...... so some pride of ownership should have some transfer since she took pretty good care of her last place

Check what they say is true in the records of ownership. i try to get a personal reference and suggest it might be a neighbor. The reason for moving matters to me. if they are looking for a house I dont like that so much especially when they are from the area. In that case they are definitely short timers and you know it upfront. Out of area is a little better. Other then that do what you normally do.
Originally posted by @Matt K. :
Originally posted by @Amber Knight:

From everything I've seen landlord references are the #1 indicator of risk-  when you don't get a response, it's usually because the landlord doesn't want to give you bad news. 

If they've been homeowners, fortunately you'll be able to look at assessor records to verify the property and their credit history will show if they've been paying their mortgage on time. They should be able to order a payment history from the mortgage company if you want more detail. They're reasons for moving make a difference too. If it's the same part of town and the same size property as the house they own, I'd be cautious. 

 Source for this.... there's pretty strict rules about a landlord can or can not say. Plus, there's really no incentive for the landlord to say anything negative because they take on additional risk... for what? Plus, let's be honest... if a bad landlord wanted a bad tenant out why not lie and say they are great... get's the tenant gone much faster than the truth.

Credit history would carry more weight than landlord check.... 

In our research, there are people that pay their rent first, no matter what- and then there are people who push those boundaries as far as they can go. A credit history tells you if they have and pay credit cards, not if they've consistently paid their rent on time for years. In most cases, only delinquencies over 30 days are reported to the credit bureaus. 

Landlords need to be aware of FHA, but you can verify a tenant lived where they've said, if they paid their rent on time, if their deposit is returned in full and if they would rent to them again. I agree that the most recent landlord might just want the tenants out, but if you have three good prior references, it's a solid indicator that they prioritize taking good care of a property. Most landlords are willing to take 2 minutes to help another landlord out- though large property managers can be more defensive.

Have a family that bought a house that was a bit bigger/more expensive than they could handle. They racked up some debt - the decided to sell and rent for a bit.

They treat the house like it’s their own, pay on time, and are great tenants. They were upfront about their situation, which I appreciated.

There are many people who are getting out of the ownership space and moving to the rental space for the freedom it offers. If they have the right answers, these folks can make wonderful tenants IMHO. 

We did a six month rental at an apartment complex when we moved to a different city. We needed to sell the last house in order to have the down payment for the next house.

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