I am looking for advice on screening international student tenant applicants. I own a condo in DC near a Johns Hopkins graduate school campus and have had some interest from international students. What are some best practices you have used for screening international tenant applicants and accommodating their unusual needs/circumstances (i.e. diplomatic clauses in their lease, not having US-based credit or cosigners). I can ask to see their visa to verify that they are eligible to live in the US for the duration of the lease and I can require documentation of proof of income or ability to pay rent that meets my criteria. Is there any value in asking for rental history or referrals if they are all based outside the US and may not speak English? I also don't believe that it is reasonable to ask for a full year's rent up front as the graduate students often are older and have been working professionally for awhile and don't have a wealthy family back home financing their education abroad like an undergraduate may have - but tell me if you think otherwise. I am open to renting to an international student and want to make sure I am not putting myself in a risky situation that could have been mitigated with the right questions/requirements up front. Thank you!
The scary thing is that they can up and leave in the middle of the lease, tell you nothing and you have no way of getting any lost money. As far as running their background, there are a couple international programs that can do it, but I'd rather just verify visa, proof of income, and verify with the school or with their employer.
How to mitigate the risk of them up and leaving is to collect larger security deposits or have them pay a couple months rent. You can form this in any which way you choose. For instance, 1st month's rent and 3 month's security deposit, or 1st month's rent, security deposit and then last 2 month's rent. If they go to John's Hopkins, they're smart people and most likely understand your point of view.