Renting a SFH to 3 guys.

24 Replies

I have 3 guys in their 20's who want to rent a house from me. I've been a landlord for over 12 years and usually deal with families, these guys seem to be responsible and have good jobs and combined make over 100k. The house is in a "C-D" neighborhood that has been experiencing more drug crime than normal, do to a trailer park nearby that is becoming a problem. I have been having some difficulty renting this home. Even section 8 tenants will not rent it. What are some things I should consider when renting to multiple tenants with in a single rental. I was going to go up on the rent to hire a housekeeper to make sure the place stays clean. 

Do they meet your qualifications? If their income satisfies the requirement, they want to rent, and you're having a hard time renting to anyone else, then why not rent to them? take a deposit as you should with any rental to cover any wear and tear.

As far as a required housekeeper, this seems to be taking it a bit far. Do you know these guys are messy people? does it mater if they are messy people? As long as the unit is clean when it is returned to you and they don't damage anything in the process, what is your concern with their tidiness? I'd only be concerned with that rent check coming in each month. If anything is dirty when they move out, higher a cleaner and use their deposit to cover it.

One thing I've seen on here which I think is a good idea is to ask them to select a "head of household" which you will do all of your dealings with. This creates a point of contact for you and a sense of responsibility for the unit for the tenant selected as the head of household. This minimized communication gaps and ensures that every one is on the same page.

Other than that, possibly require a co-signer if you don't trust that they can pay. however it sounds like with their combined income they should be able to cover the rent.
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@Jane Istre How do the criminal background and eviction checks look? Do not evaluate these tenants differently because you have had some trouble filling the vacancy. If they meet or exceed your minimum quals then approve them. If not then don't. The closer they are as a whole to the minimums I would increase the security deposit you request. 

@Jane Istre  You can include yard maintenance with the contract.  I would also schedule several inspections early on and drive by the place (not enter) to check on it.  With any new tenant, I think it is important to do a few regular checks.  I know my PM also does an inspection at 6 months.

@Jane Istre

Have they lived together previously? I think previous rental history is the most crucial thing as a predictor of their future.

The more people you have unrelated, the more chance for one or 2 of them to want to leave at some point along the way when a girlfriend or other situation arises.

Also 3 guys who’s aggregate income is 100k is not impressive, that’s basically 3 guys making minimum wage. What are any prospects saying about your place. Are you offering any kind of move in special with lower 1st moths rent or other inducements? If the section 8 people are going for your place that’s a problem. You need to understand your competition and the market better.

Unfortunately in a C-D area your options are rotten or less rotten tenants usually.

@Jane Istre

Expect quicker turnover. As they get girlfriends they will move out. Hopefully some want to stay and will replace their roommate. If not they all move and you have another vacancy soon.

How much do they smoke and how many animals do they have? 2 of my top questions.

They will probably obtain SOs.  How do you feel about 6 unmarrieds in your place?

I'd be careful here- not renting to tenants who meet your criteria because they are "guys" is a clear cut federal fair housing violation. I know that's not exactly what your concern is, but it's worded that way. As a landlord, it's imperative that you have clear cut rental criteria that you make available to anyone who wants to rent from you. The first applicant that meets those criteria gets the place. It makes landlording so much simpler and you can totally avoid any type of fair housing issues.


There are posts with a variation of this question on here regularly, and I see lots of replies ignoring fair housing violations or just saying landlords shouldn't worry about them for a multitude of reasons. The fact is, following those laws makes your life so much easier as a landlord, you don't have to think about the details when renting to a prospective tenant and it actually helps you find better candidates. Besides, in my market, law schools have students constantly making calls to landlords trying to get them to violate fair housing and they press charges as an exercise. You don't want to get caught up in court because you don't want to rent to "guys."

Best of luck!

You can't deny their applications based on their gender.  I also think that the housekeeper thing is taking it a bit far, too.  Why not walk through the unit (with proper notice to enter unit) either semi-annually or quarterly to ensure that it is not being destroyed.  If you walk through on a fairly regular basis, it lets the residents of the house know that any damage will be discovered well before the move out.  I've found that this helps curb a lot of the potential risk and provides a deterrent to destruction of the unit/house, etc.  

@Jane Istre

I wouldn’t change a thing. If they meet the requirements, they meet the requirements. I would make a special point of making sure they realize the lease is Jointly and Severally everybody’s responsibility. 1 guy doesn’t get to bail early.

If you have any doubts, go MTM lease.

@Hai Loc

Wait. What?! Did you read a different post than me? You jumped to a meth lab from “3 guys want to rent my house”? Yikes.

@Jane Istre. In qualifying multiple unrelated people, I want any combination of two of the tenants to equal or exceed my Income qualifying criteria. 

If my place rents for $1,000 / Month, and my income criteria is 3 X Rent = $3,000 / Month. A+B - Must Equal or exceed $3,000. A+C - Must Equal or exceed $3,000, and B+C must equal or exceed $3,000.  

There is a reasonable probability if these folks are not currently residing together, you will lose one of them prior to expiration of the lease. 

As for the housekeeper aspect, just give them a reference to your cleaning service, etc. 

If all looks good, go for it - don't get tripped up in an Equal Opportunity violation!

@Jane Istre

Max out the security deposit. Collect first and last month rent. I wouldn't worry with the cleaning crew as the damage will.be done anyway if it's going to happen. Make sure all three are on lease

If they submit their application and they are qualified under your standards, why no rent to them?  Careful with being prejudicial and violate rules that protects tenants (or applicants).  Be as much stringent as you can with your rental, without affecting your business.  But know your state laws.  

@Anthony Wick

I had a tenant who had 2 other guys living with him and they were cooking meth in my mobile home until I booted them out

@Jane Istre I rented a four bedroom home in my early twenties with three other guys. We all had pretty good jobs and wanted a nice home to live in. I also rented several other houses with friends when I was younger. If they’ve got decent income, good job history, as well as good credit, they may be better candidates than families with children. We have a daughter who is a year and a half and she can be rough on stuff!

@Jane Istre what you're describing is discrimination based on gender, and familial status, which is against the law. Have a rental standard that you abide by consistently, that is fair and unbiased, or you soon may be defending a lawsuit. Put all three on the lease. Why you'd think men are all slobs and women are all neat freaks is bewildering. Make business decisions based on facts.

@Jane Istre sounds tough but sounds interesting

The house would obviously make more money renting out rooms individually and your investment wouldn’t be so hurt by vacancies but that also means more rooms to show for less benefit when vacancies occur.

I agree a house keeper is helpful.

Do your due diligence and don’t have anything nice in the house. :)

I did that once only after the parents cosigned, that ended up being a rock band.

They turned the basement into a recording studio.

The front door was trashed the place look tired after they left so I kept three deposit licked my wounds and moved on.

The best part I went to you Tube listened their music that was cut in my basement.

would renting it out by the room work better?  charge a premium and all three get their own lease and terms.  think of a higher turnover mitigation, and back fill the rooms as individuals move out.

I am considering this for a property next to several warehouses (Amazon etc) so lots of young single guys/women around there.

@Hai Loc

Ok. You have 1 antidote. That in no way means these guys are suddenly going to cook meth.