Need help rejecting this tenant in NJ

17 Replies

Good morning, BP.

I am in the process of writing a rejection letter for an applicant here in NJ who is unwilling to disclose his financial history. I ran a background check before on another applicant and she submitted all the necessary information at the drop of a hat, I'm just not sure why this one seems to be so hesitant and suspicious. He really insists that I take him at his word, that he pays everything on time.

So how do I write a rejection letter that states that the applicant was rejected due to him not disclosing his financial information? And no, even if he does reveal his financial statements, credit history, credit score, and credit report, he feels like a headache to deal with.

You could simply say that another applicant successfully completed the application process, was verified and has contracted for the rental.   Thank him for starting the process.  You could mention you will keep him in mind should the rental for some reason become vacant again.  (You will keep his shenanigans in mind and remember why you likely wouldn't rent to him won't you?)

I know NJ has some unique requirements, and I am not familiar with them so definitely get advise from someone local. I believe what I would suggest will work, but again double check with someone local to ensure it doesn't run afoul of a local regulation I'm not familiar with.

I would simply write the rejection for 'incomplete application information', don't be specific and don't detail the issue. Everyone already knows what was incomplete, so detailing it just makes for an opportunity to critique the requirement. I believe in NJ you can't reject for source of income, but you can reject for lack of income documentation, so I think you are overthinking the situation here. 

Originally posted by @Kathy Johnson :

You could simply say that another applicant successfully completed the application process, was verified and has contracted for the rental.   Thank him for starting the process.  You could mention you will keep him in mind should the rental for some reason become vacant again.  (You will keep his shenanigans in mind and remember why you likely wouldn't rent to him won't you?)

 I could say that I found another tenant (even though that's not true)? Would the applicant try and get more information from me? ("Who's this tenant? What's his name? Why did he get accepted and not me?!") I'm not looking forward to the endless phone calls and constant bombardment of text messages.

@Nicholas Jose

Don’t mention other tenants or applications. Simply state that they are rejected because their application was incomplete. Period. Nothing else.

You may consider consulting a local property manager or attorney to make sure you are safe in your response.

Originally posted by @Nicholas Jose :
 I could say that I found another tenant (even though that's not true)? Would the applicant try and get more information from me? ("Who's this tenant? What's his name? Why did he get accepted and not me?!") I'm not looking forward to the endless phone calls and constant bombardment of text messages.

Sorry, I misunderstood your post. Don't say there is another applicant if there isn't.  Simply reject the incomplete application.  
 

What I do in these situations with an incomplete or just bad application is just sit on it and think it over while taking additional ones.  Once I have the applicant I want with deposit in hand I send a simple text thanking them for their time and letting them know I have already accepted another tenant.  I never provide a reason and don’t follow up anymore.  Your state may be different but in my mind less is more.  If you don’t have a certain amount of time I wouldn’t be too quick to deny for incomplete app as he may be telling the truth and complete one that would pass your standards on paper but just be a person you want to avoid.  

Originally posted by @Nicholas Jose :
Originally posted by @Kathy Johnson:

You could simply say that another applicant successfully completed the application process, was verified and has contracted for the rental.   Thank him for starting the process.  You could mention you will keep him in mind should the rental for some reason become vacant again.  (You will keep his shenanigans in mind and remember why you likely wouldn't rent to him won't you?)

 I could say that I found another tenant (even though that's not true)? Would the applicant try and get more information from me? ("Who's this tenant? What's his name? Why did he get accepted and not me?!") I'm not looking forward to the endless phone calls and constant bombardment of text messages.

Don't try and game the system, just tell the truth and tell it simply. You will always get yourself more work trying for something you don't need to. I have kids...I always prefer they just spit out whatever issue/problem/wrong they've done, not try telling me how they think I want to hear it, or what will make it more palatable...it's best to keep it simple and honest. I'm not sure why you're struggling with just doing that...

 

Incomplete application would do it for me.

I set my requirements in terms of income, credit, rental histories, screening requirements, etc. and follow them with EVERY potential applicant that contacts me.  Do I get sob stories from those begging for "a chance" or those refusing to provide me the above information?  Yes. But I find treating everyone the same legally is the best way to go.

Would I take an applicant that TELLS me he "pays everything on time" without providing documentation of such?  Am I nuts?

I agree with the others who said to keep quiet, you received an incomplete application and are still "waiting" for the rest of the info needed/asked for... They know what they are trying to pull and know that most won't accept them with no info. You can't give out others' financial info if you get asked, who or when others' rented instead. 

"I'm just not sure why this one seems to be so hesitant and suspicious. He really insists that I take him at his word, that he pays everything on time."

  Because he's most likely a crook looking for an easy landlord to take advantage of. Words mean nothing anymore, it's got to be in writing (proof) and signed. 

  My application process is meeting all the tenants involved that plan to live in the unit in person. Everyone 18 and over must apply and get credit checked (I run it), I take a picture of everyone's drivers license so there is a lesser chance of them using fake info, get SS #'s to run a credit check. I charge $10 each applicant to run credit & background checks when it costs me $15. I want three months bank statements too. Very few good renters have a problem with doing this. I assure them it is to protect them as well as we do it for all their neighbors too.  

  We don't demand perfect credit, it just can't be a horror show (I actually say this in my ads) and so far we've had very good results with tenants since running credit checks. In their leases, it is noted that we can and do report late or non-payments to credit agencies, so that reminder seems to help.

I also use a free google phone number in the ads and don't answer it, I let the people leave detailed coherent info for me to call them back. This alone is a good first screening tool because if they can't put together a decent couple of sentences on a phone message then they can't be expected to do much else. Also, if there is chaos going on in the background there will be chaos going on in your unit too. 

  In 30 years I've never called or written anyone about not qualifying or getting rejected. Only once did I have an applicant call and ask and was surprised when I told her that she was caught lying about her current landlord and living arrangement. Thanks to me looking up the actual property owner on the tax info online, seeing the name changes due to marriages. She claimed she was renting and the landlord was so and so when it turns out she was living with her mother the whole time and her mother was in on the lie. I never heard from her again :)

Originally posted by @Nicholas Jose :

Good morning, BP.

I am in the process of writing a rejection letter for an applicant here in NJ who is unwilling to disclose his financial history. I ran a background check before on another applicant and she submitted all the necessary information at the drop of a hat, I'm just not sure why this one seems to be so hesitant and suspicious. He really insists that I take him at his word, that he pays everything on time.

So how do I write a rejection letter that states that the applicant was rejected due to him not disclosing his financial information? And no, even if he does reveal his financial statements, credit history, credit score, and credit report, he feels like a headache to deal with.

Don't make it more complicated than it needs to be. You could have one default statement for people that failed to meet your qualifications:

"Dear Applicant,

I regret to inform you that we are unable to rent to you at this time. If you wish for specific information as to why your application was rejected, please mail us a written request to: 123 Straight St, Jackson, MI 12345"

Give them a method of submitting a request for more information, but don't make it easy and they'll drop it 99.9% of the time. Your decision should be final so don't engage them by phone, text, or email.

Thanks for the great info, everyone. I'm really learning a lot on how to deal with this situation.

The applicant "proved" his income to me by sending me a screenshot of his banking statement that included his direct deposit from his work. He also sent me a picture of his auto loan being paid off, as well as a picture of his driver's license. Now he wants a refund for his application fee despite the fact that the application explicitly states that the fee is non-refundable.

I think I should just ignore him. I haven't rejected him in writing yet, so I guess I'll just leave it at that and move on.

@Nicholas Jose well, what does he think, rules don't apply to him? What're you gonna do, write him a letter using a quill and then wax seal it and send it by courier?

"Kind gentlemen,

Though I find it of the utmost abhorrence that you may take offense at this notice, I indeed regret to inform you that I cannot agree to offer a leasehold estate of mine property as discussed in previous encounters."

Not to be rude, but......damn.

Originally posted by @Dan DiFilippo :

@Nicholas Jose well, what does he think, rules don't apply to him? What're you gonna do, write him a letter using a quill and then wax seal it and send it by courier?

I tried to be accommodating to him. He said that I sent him an email that had his son's name. (It must've been the email from the company that ran the background check, which would mean that this email asked for his son's financial information.) I was just as confused as he was and asked him to forward me the email to know what was going on. Alas, he got all defensive about it.

But quill pens and wax seals take time to prepare. I'd prefer sending him smoke signals since they both seem to be filled with hot air.

@Nicholas Jose generally speaking the application fee is to cover the cost of background check and credit report. It sounds like you were unable to run those reports, in which case I would just honor his request to return the funds. Explain his application is not complete without a background check and credit report. You are not denying him, you just don't have a complete application. 

As far as his sons name showing up, I don't follow where you saw that? Are you saying you were able to run a background check? A credit report will show name and addresses. If the name on the credit report is not his, then he is providing false information. 

For future applications, you may want to use a third part for credit report and background check. The applicant pays the service directly and the report is shared with you. If the tenant doesn't consent to the report, their credit card is never charged. We tell applicants until their credit report is received, the application is incomplete. In this systems you never take money from someone unless they are consenting to the credit report. I have had a couple people claim that their information or security questions were not approved for the credit report and I just tell them to call the bureau and work it out. 

Odds are good this guy is trying to get you to take him without his credit report because it is bad. It may be good to just give him his money back regardless. Then he has no reason to keep bothering you. Is $50 or whatever worth this nonsense, especially when you were not even able to run the report and incurred no expense.

@Nicholas Jose

Reading more comments here.

Guy sounds like some work. I'm not sure how you verify his information, but I almost wouldn't accept bank statements anymore with the creative levels of fraud rising.

Paystubs or tax returns, call employer to verify paystubs. (Also seen some pretty neat fake paystubs recently)