International Tenant Screening

4 Replies


I have a question regarding international tenant screening. I have a condo for rent, and the majority of tenants that inquire about it are students, which I have no problem with. I have a rental qualifications that involve a minimum credit score, rental history references, background check, income requirements, and a photo ID. 

Last year I had just bought the place and ended up renting to international students. They met all the requirements except because they were international they didn’t have rental history or a credit score. I ended up renting to them anyhow, which in hindsight I think that was a mistake but I felt a little pressured at the time to just get it rented. They ended up being excellent tenants while they were in the unit, they didn’t put anything on the walls or do any damage, and they were very respectful. 

The lease was 12 months starting in August, but when the beginning of May rolled around I got a message from them that they were at the airport leaving the country for good and that they had to leave for financial reasons. They also left all of their furniture in the apartment. I still have suspicions that since the school year ended they didn’t want to pay for the summer, but I wasn’t about to try to track them down internationally. I got a lawyer involved to make sure I was handling everything legally with removal of the furniture and didn’t have any problems there. 

However it’s been hard to find a tenant over the summer months since mostly students live in the area. I’m now getting contacted by a decent amount of potential renters, and some are international again. I really want to handle it better this go around and screen properly. If someone isn’t able to give landlord history and credit history, should they be rejected, or perhaps I should require a double deposit? Any advice is welcomed, I just don’t want tenants that leave with 4 months left, and next time I may not be so lucky with no damage in the unit.

Thank you! Becca

Hey Rebecca! Unfortunately because you have no way to screen them, I would caution you renting to international students again. At the student housing complex where I worked we often saw those students vacate at the beginning of summer or just up and leave in the middle of their lease term and never come back. It happened pretty frequently, so if you're worried about it happening again at your unit I would advise against accepting international applicants. This is just my personal opinion because of what I saw at the apartment complex where I worked. Best of luck! 

Hi Katie! Thanks I really appreciate the feedback! I’m curious, did you send them some sort of letter to let them know they aren’t approved, and what was the reasoning? I was thinking perhaps that they did not give landlord references for rental history because I have that as my requirement.

@Rebecca Shine We would typically email them telling them that they weren't approved if we were able to see that they had an eviction/skip history. We didn't do landlord references, but that could be extremely helpful for you as an individual landlord! I would highly recommend reaching out to their past landlords (not their current landlord) and see whether or not they have skipped out on a lease or been evicted before. 

Thank you Katie Stewart! I appreciate it. I did as much as I could to make it work but unfortunately her income for school was only for the months she was actually in school (so 9 months instead of 12) so it actually became an issue of an income requirement and it has not worked out. That also falls in line with what happened to me with the other international students. They had sent me a document showing that they had a monthly stipend but it didn’t state how long the stipend would be supplied. When this prospective tenant sent me the F-1 form, I was able to see it only lasted for 9 months. So I’ll ask for that for verification from now on. I might have accepted the no credit/no rental history with additional deposit funds, but the income just kind of wiped out the option, and in PA we can’t ask for more than 2x’s rent so it’s still a little risky. Thank you for the advice!!