Pre Screening Tenant

10 Replies

This morning I had a female contact me about my rental property and wanted to see it asap and asked if I could show it today so I said sure.  She came by with her grandmother (real nice lady) and took a quick look at it, asked a couple of questions and was very interested in renting it.  She said they reason she needs it asap is due to she was living with her boyfriend and they are no longer together so needs her own place.  She told me that when I do her background check and rental history that it might show a time that she signed a 6 month lease and left 1 month early not really knowing due to not understanding the lease she signed.  Apparently she thought it was time to move when it actually wasn't.  Based on those two things should I still have her go through with the background checks?  Main thing that worries me as that she just got out of a relationship and no telling if they will get back together or if he decides to try and move in with her without me knowing.  She did state that she was not on his lease.    

@Guevara M. I look at tenant screening as a three strikes and your out type of deal. It sounds like she has two strikes to me (needs to move quickly and spotty history). If her credit is sterling and she has great employment history, maybe she will be fine. From the outside looking in, this sounds like trouble to me. 

@Guevara M. I personally wouldn’t think twice about her leaving one month early as long as you require at least a month’s security deposit (I’d do two months). If credit, background check, and employment history are good, I’d do it.

The old bring your grandmother trick works every time.  I personally would consider others before her, anytime someone comes to see a property and starts telling me of the chaos in their life, I say in the back of my head "I don't want to be a part of this" Like you said hopefully she won't get back with him and move him in.  I would just make sure your lease specifies who can be in the house, my lease says something like anyone staying more than 7 consecutive days required a full background check and to be added to the lease with potentially additional costs monthly.  

Its just hard to keep track if someone has been there for 7+ days

Thanks for all the advice. I'm just going to pass on her for now. I do have two more showings this week so maybe one of them will be a better pick. What's the best way to respond to her to let her know? Do I have to give her a reason?

@Guevara M. , I tend to stray from drama moving in.  It typically leads to drama moving out.

You would absolutely want to run a screening report on her.  Maybe it is a choatic time in her life for only those two instances.  Checking her credit to see if she pays her bills vs gives them stories for being late.  Also, what is her employment history like?  If she's been at the same job for multiple years that would make be more comfortable.

Regarding the ex-BF, once she signs a lease she's legally committed to it.  The chances would be greater that the BF moves in than her walking away.

Tell her the truth: you have other interested applicants who are more qualified.  If she really is in quick need of housing, don't wait to cut her loose.

@Guevara M. first of all, her personal situation with her boyfriend is not a screening criteria. It is not even legal to deny someone out of fear they will get back with their boyfriend. The Grandmother also has nothing to do with this, unless she plans to be a cosigner.

As far as leaving a previous property one month early before a lease ended, that may or may not be an issue. Request her last two rental references and contact both of them. If they both say she paid rent on time, didn't cause damage, gave proper notice and they would rent to her again - then I don't see the problem. If one says she left early, see how they handled it. They may have taken her deposit, in which case she settled her debt and may have left on good standing. 

More importantly, I would run a credit check. Look at her credit score and payment history. See if she is paying car loans and other payments on time. Make sure there are no outstanding judgments, especially to landlords! Make sure her income is three times rent and check that she has stable employment history. 

Never screen people based on your gut feeling. Use the trusty three criteria:

Income / employment

Rental references

Credit history / score

Originally posted by @Guevara M. :

Thanks for all the advice. I'm just going to pass on her for now. I do have two more showings this week so maybe one of them will be a better pick. What's the best way to respond to her to let her know? Do I have to give her a reason?

 How do you deny someone who never applied? Do you have an application or screening process? 

She's only been with current employer for 6 months and she does make 3 times the rent according to the screening application I had her fill out. Under the rental references section of the application she left it blank and that is when she explained to me what happened when she left early. I'll request her last 2 rental references and see what she says. I use Smart Move for my screening process but haven't had her do it yet due to that I have two more showings this week.

Tenants are like buses.  Wait half an hour and there's another one.  Don't settle for drama queens, you end up having to pay something when it's over. 

And boyfriends are to be considered....she's iffy...5 will get you ten, he's real iffy.  Now, she moves him in a couple of weeks after she takes possession (happens all the time and she knew he was moving in from the start), you discover the situation a few weeks later so you whip out your lease and tell him he needs to fill out an application and sign the lease.  Then you do your due diligence and run a background on him and Voila....he's a criminal, got no credit, but plenty of collections, FICO of 542, etc.  If he was applying all by himself, no way you'd rent to him. OK, now what do you do for the next ten months?