How to turn down an applicant before they apply?

4 Replies

Hi Everyone!

I'm looking for some advise on how to approach a particular situation please. We are trying to rent a recently vacated unit.  There is a couple that passed the initial phone screening and thus led to a property showing.  At the end of the showing when we were discussing the application process that includes a background check, they mentioned having felonies for theft. One felony was as recent as 2016.  Now during the phone screening call, they only mentioned that they had some minor infractions with the law that we assumed were misdemeanors. My wife and I are not typically comfortable renting to felons, but we also believe people can change their lives around.  This couple claimed these mistakes were when they were "young and dumb".  We then Googled their arrests and noticed there was prison time associated.

This couple claims to have the funds and have provided references. Based off of the new HUD policies, we can not discriminate based off of felonies. Do we just have them proceed with the application process? Perhaps there is more information that we need to assess? Or do we just save them the application fee and try to turn them down now?

I'm just curious what others have done if confronting similar situations.


Tell them in advance what your standards are and they can choose if they want to proceed with the fee. Forget HUD, renting to felons is idiotic, or for non-profits.

Young and dumb? It was two years ago. They aren’t that much older now. I also believe people can change, however enough time hasn’t passed for me to take a chance with them. Like stated before, run a credit check...chances are they won’t pass.
Originally posted by @Mel K. :

Based off of the new HUD policies, we can not discriminate based off of felonies.

False. In case you missed that last part, FALSE!

You can absolutely discriminate against criminal behavior. What HUD said is that you shouldn't have a blanket discrimination policy. Instead, you should have justifiable discrimination. For example, nobody suggests you should let a child molester rent a house next to a daycare. But would it be ok to rent that same house to a guy that served time for a fourth DUI but that has been out and sober for six years? Absolutely.

HUD didn't really add anything new. When you set standards, there should be a reason for them. Why do you want a tenant to make 3x the rent? Why do you want to see a government-issued picture ID for each applicant? Why don't you want to rent to someone that spent time in prison for a theft committed two years ago?

If they have been out two years, have stable jobs and good Landlord references, I would absolutely consider them. If they just got off the bus and are just starting a job at the local greasy spoon owned by their cousin, I'm justified in rejecting them.