Tenant Requires Cosigner

8 Replies

Hey all, I am currently in the process of showing a lower unit on a duplex where the upper unit is already rented out. I just have a couple of questions and would like to hear your thoughts.

1. Currently, our best option for filling the vacancy in the lower unit meets all of the qualifications on our applications except income. She verbally told us she would be fine and her mom is helping her out. If we have her mom cosign, should we also have her fill out an application? Thoughts?

2. This property is in Wisconsin and has a rather large yard and driveway. What do you do for lawn care and snow removal? We have brought up the idea of having the lower tenant take care of all of it but I am afraid this may effect vacancy on that unit...people are lazy. Also, do we have to legally credit or pay them for taking care of the yard/snow removal?

@Alexander Ransom for the co-signer, you’d probably want them to do a credit check. You don’t need a co-signer who is behind on bills! As for the grass &snow, if you’re up front about it and include it in the lease, the tenant can be made responsible. BUT - I find that younger people and 1-2 BR properties often don’t find the time to do it, so it tends to grow out of control. Also, if it’s more than a 10 minute project to cut/shovel, it probably won’t get done either. If it’s more than a postage-stamp yard, I would figure in the costs to have someone cut it.

I would pass on this tenant simply because she doesn’t have the income 

I would pass because co-signer's are a pain in the arse.  We stopped doing co-signers years ago because they need to receive copies of all rent and lease violation notices sent to the tenant.  We had an eviction thrown out in the way early days because we didn't do certified mail of the 5 day to the co-signer.  We only did regular snail mail.  

Previous to not taking co-signer's we never had a co-signer "come through". I.e. pay the past due to avoid eviction.  So there really didn't seem to be much point to it anyway.  

I found your thread searching for cosigner advice. We were trying to stick with in state but now I realize that Philadelphia is a long way from Pittsburgh. We have someone interested (hasn't seen or applied for the place yet) with a Cleveland based cosigner which would be workable since partner has to drive to that area for work regularly. 

As far as your situation, I assume you went with a different tenant or worked things out. I would only accept a tenant who didn't meet income qualifications if they were in school, residency program or skilled labor apprentice that will eventually be able to pay fully on their own. If they just want to live beyond their means, I'd turn that down.  

Regarding the snow situation, if you have the time and ability to clear the snow yourself do it yourself. It gives you an opportunity to check the property (dangerous icicles, iced over sidewalk and other winter issues). Ditto on the yard - you can check for critter issues when you stop by to mow the yard. We've only had luck getting underemployed or laid off tenants to handle snow shoveling and lawn mowing: helps them pay rent and other bills. With side by side duplexes, its easier to divvy up the yard and make each half responsible for their yard. Up/down duplexes not as easy to make that a go. It doesn't hurt to offer up rent credits of a fixed amount for lawn mowing or driveway clearing - some folks are more motivated than others. Its hard to find kids to shovel, let alone convince an adult to do so for pick up money. If nobody nibbles and you don't have the time to keep up with snow and mowing duties then hire someone to do the work for you, slowly up the rent to cover the costs and if somebody objects - dangle the credit for yard work option. 

Originally posted by @Alexander Ransom :

Hey all, I am currently in the process of showing a lower unit on a duplex where the upper unit is already rented out. I just have a couple of questions and would like to hear your thoughts.

1. Currently, our best option for filling the vacancy in the lower unit meets all of the qualifications on our applications except income. She verbally told us she would be fine and her mom is helping her out. If we have her mom cosign, should we also have her fill out an application? Thoughts?

2. This property is in Wisconsin and has a rather large yard and driveway. What do you do for lawn care and snow removal? We have brought up the idea of having the lower tenant take care of all of it but I am afraid this may effect vacancy on that unit...people are lazy. Also, do we have to legally credit or pay them for taking care of the yard/snow removal?

 Whenever we use a cosigner we treat that exactly as a tenant, because that's just what they are. They are just as responsible for that rent as the tenant is so you need to run them through the exact same process. Fill out the lease with them on there as a tenant etc........As far as you are concerned they are your tenant, despite the fact that they may be sleeping under another roof.

I'm different than @James Wise . A tenant occupies the home and has responsibilities that the cosigner does not (i.e. hauling off trash, replacing burned out bulbs, mowing the lawn, etc.) The Cosigner is responsible for the financial obligations of the tenant. I screen them for finances and criminal though the criminal is far less important.

I try not to use a cosigner because it indicates a weak tenant that needs help. I therefore restrict cosigners to college students.