Tenants Screening - Hold Out Or Take A Chance?

10 Replies

I have a house for rent. In the interest of full disclosure I think I may have overshot the monthly rent and was planning to lower my rate this weekend. In the mean time, I’ve actually had a family of four (boyfriend and girlfriend, girlfriend’s mom and her aunt) apply for the home just yesterday. They seem like decent enough people. However, they have poor credit, explained as being the result of job loss. I’m somewhat concerned but can require additional security. Their old landlord is selling his property, but gives them decent ratings as tenants. They were late on payments to him in the early days “but only by a couple of days and that paid the late fees.” They have pets (allowed by me, although if I had two identical applicants I’d choose the ones without pets). They are “outdoor” smokers. I’m (mostly) okay with this. I know some outdoor smokers whose homes smell fine. If they smoke in the house they would be out. One of the tenants has two arrests for misdemeanors, including one for use or possession of drug paraphernalia. This I don’t like at all. And the Mom has early onset dementia. I wouldn’t have known if she didn’t mention it. And while I don’t think it’s grounds for denial, I do worry about future implications as her condition deteriorates. Also the boyfriend is mom’s caregiver and that is the sole source of his income. Between the four of them, they make 3.2x the rent (regular job, disability payments for mom and aunt, caregiver income for the boyfriend). Part of me says this is a lot to take on in tenants, and part of me says that there’s no guarantee a perfectly good, highly qualified tenant doesn’t end up in a life altering situation that makes them a worse bet. So, what do you folks say? I have grounds to deny based on my criteria. The question is if I am making too much out of “life” and should take a chance on these tenants. It’s a nice home in a good neighborhood (A/B). I want to make a sound business decision and not just an “everybody deserves a chance decision”. Would you pass in these tenants or not? And in either case, why?

Hi. They definitely have some red flags. If your rental market isn't strong I can relate to the pull to want to fill the property and get paid. I think a big question is how long were they at the prior landlords property? If it was for a year that's not impressive. If they were there for years that would be a better sign. 

Also, I would ask the prior landlord if they ever smoked in his property. I've learned that 'outdoor smokers' sometimes smoke indoors when it's cold outside. 

@Karl B. thanks for responding. It does seem like a lot of red flags and I wanted to make sure I’m not blowing anything out of proportion. 

They have been at their current residence since March 2017, so just over two years. They were at the previous location for 3 years but they were not able to provide current contact information for their past landlords. I’m trying to find contact info for them now. Current Landlord says they keep the place clean, don’t smoke inside and it doesn’t smell like smoke. He says he would keep them on as tenants if he was not selling. 

I smell a rat.  The current landlord may be blowing smoke at you just to get them out of his own place.  The fact that they do not have contact info for the landlord prior is a HUGE red flag for me.

It seems like this crew has a lot going on and collectively barely make 3x the rent.  All these stories and the circuitous explanation for their income - they seem like a real risk to me.  I would pass.

If you are worried about the low volume of applicants based on your rent price, I would knock the price back by 25 bucks and be able to have the proverbial pick of the litter from the deluge of people that will contact you for being slightly under market.  That "loss" of 25 dollars is minuscule compared to having an unstable tenancy at "top of the market" rates.

@Wesley W. thank you for your feedback. That’s where I’m leaning right now. It doesn’t seem worth the risk, even to get my ideal rent. They may be perfectly good tenants but I’m not sure I want to take the chance that they are not.

@Karen Johnson after the first two paragraphs you lost me totally. You are trying too hard. I have been burned in the past trying to talk myself into these situations. You are trying to justify these folks as you have the rent higher than the market. Pass on this one ! My experience.

You made this group of misfits up right, your pulling our collective leg. Are they circus performers or gipsies by any chance. I'll venture the pets are pit bulls and the girl friend is a "escort".

How could a single group of applicants have every known red flag imaginable.

@Karen Johnson hard pass.

In this economy, better renters will show. Smokers and one with drug history? Poor credit because of job loss? Why’d he lose his/her job!?

Nice neighborhood!?! What are you doing? Are you that impatient or as the other guy said, are you messing with us!?!

Hard pass