Did I dodge a bullet or was I too suspicious?

52 Replies

I had a rental application from someone with poor credit. She furnished paystubs showing a very handsome salary and was more than qualified, willing to make two months security deposit and start the lease immediately meaning immediate cash-flow. 

She produced a guarantor who had a marginal, but steady job and a poor credit as well. 

She went to the property a few times, wanted landlord to fix numerous items which are expected of any genuine tenant as most people like to have a decent place and want things fixed if they are paying a handsome rent in excess of $2k.

I wanted to rent it quickly so keen to work with her but something did not sit well with me. I realized she was using some sort of app for phone number (not a proper mobile number). I am not that tech savvy but figured she might have good reasons. 

He previous landlord was deceased, she said it was her aunt anyway so no real way to check reference and she was staying with mom. She slipped up that mom had a decent gov't job, but would not produce her as a guarantor. 

Lease was ready, keys almost ready to be handed in as I got seduced by the funds. I had a gut feeling something was off. I questioned that I cannot find her employer other than a website. The person verifying the income seemed like someone who may know the lady. Income verified was different to what was on the pay stub. 

When questioned when she got paid last and whether she can produced a pay check. She stuttered last pay check was in Aug yet claims that she gets paid biweekly. When asked whether she produced a bank account to show track record of her income being deposited, she claimed she cashes her checks so no deposits to show. 

At this point, I had a gut feeling that the employer is either a fake or something else is off. There is also an issue of someone making close to 80K but the employer is based out of a very small office in not so good area of town. 

I asked for W-2 so may be there will be federal tax ID to show that employer is genuine. I don't think she will be able to furnish it. 

So did I miss a bullet or was it someone who could probably afford the place (hence the large deposit and prorated rent of 5K) but went the wrong way about it. Or did my suspicion got the best of me? 


Get the W-2, check the employer ID number with the state, look for even numbers (a  give away of fraud), go to IRS tax table and see if the tax taken percentage taken is correct, FICA, 401k, health care fund on the payroll check??? 

Go to old address and knock on the door. Who lives there?  Have title company pull a property profile - deceased owner feels like a lie. She can provide 12 bank statements showing she paid rent? (oh no she claims she has no bank account- anyone who has a $80K job doesn't go to a Payday Money Center to cash her check, she is hiding from a lien or something)

What is inside her car? Clean? Car loan on credit paid as agreed or she can't get to work.

I would pass before she told me lies.

This is the reason why I’m starting to put more of my properties with a property management company. They are supposed to be professionals at screening applicants.

@Jacob Beg

You definitely dodged a bullet in my opinion. The risk wasn’t worth the reward. Reward being you would have had instant cashflow (at least you think). Risk could have hurt you a lot more by her not paying rent then you’d have to spend money on an eviction and who knows how long that could take. Attorney fees then no collected rent a negative huge hit. Tenants are one of the most important things in real estate they make or break the deal ultimately. 

So I say good job spend a little more time finding a better tenant even if it means losing a month of cashflow.

Originally posted by @Jonathan Greene :

I only needed to read this "I had a rental application from someone with poor credit." to say you dodged a bullet.

Do you consider any compensatory factors? May be I am old school and like to hear the full story. Going by gut feel, I have rented to tenants with poor credit without any serious issue. 

In our locale, their tend to be a lot of marginal credit individuals with good gov't jobs so  I tend to see the job stability as a good factor. 

And what about section 8 tenants? Do you insist on good credit or are is there a diff criteria for them? 

 @Joe S. That depends on the quality of your property manager. I had to pull mine away from the property managers as they were adding no value at all. Repairs were carried out at an exceptionally high rate and I never regretted my decision. I am sure there are much better ones out there. 

So the lady never came back and I think I def dodged a bullet. It appears there is someone out there with the same name as the "HR Manager" with a serious criminal history. While I can't be certain its the same person, the fake pay checks is real shady and I agree with the other poster about someone having to go to a check cashing place while claiming to make 80K. 

We own several fairly large apartment buildings and never did one credit check. We ask for the first two pages of 3 months of their bank statements and 3 months of their last rent receipts. Then, we make our decisions based on a personal interview. We do very well with this method and only had to evict about 3 tenants through the court in the past 20 years and it costs only about $850 to evict a tenant with an attorney and it takes 7 weeks to get the tenant locked out.

While is sounds scary to have to evict a tenant, if you rent to enough tenants you will eventually have to evict a tenant through the court even when they have the best credit in the world.

In your case, I would base my decision solely on interviews, ask questions and get a feel for where her head is at. If she is skitzy and bouncing off the walls I would not rent to her. If she is a nice person, has the cash in the bank and I feel she will pay her rent on time and keep the place clean then I rent to her.

She is probably going through difficult times sine her aunt passed away and now she is on her own. While I an not a charitable organization we need to be compassionate, understanding and not misjudge people because they have anxiety or some other issues where we wrongly disqualify them and by what you wrote I think that may be the case.

@Jack Orthman

I agree with most of it. I genuinely liked this tenant, but the inability to produce bank statements to prove income and unable to provide W2's so I can confirm there the employer appearing on paystub is a genuine one and has a Fed Tax ID, was a real concern. 

In this case, employer is based out of a small office in a shabby building and there is no real way of tracing the employer. The HR guy is supposedly the owner as well. 

Personally, if someone is up front about their situation I will work with them. I got cold feet because she could not explain when she was paid last, she makes 75K but cashes her checks, her previous landlord is deceased, she is using a mobile phone which is one of those voice apps. I became convinced that the paystubs were doctored. 

Evicting a tenant is no problem, been there and done that. But there are people who are master at conning the system by delaying the whole judicial process, filing spurious appeals and all that. 

Never trust your gut if you have a "good feeling" about someone, but always trust your gut if you have a bad feeling. Assume people are lying and prove that they are not. I like email addresses to verify income, because it is hard to fake a company email. Another trick I have to verify employment is calling the main phone number and asking for HR, instead of using the direct line or cell phone they provide. Good job on this one.

Originally posted by @Jonathan Greene :

I only needed to read this "I had a rental application from someone with poor credit." to say you dodged a bullet.

Sad state of affairs when you need to be a private detective and spend all this time trying to figure out who to rent to LOL

ALWAYS get a W-2 and a bank statement!

W-2 shows employment and hopefully income stability

Bank statement - Most employers now auto deposit payroll, so correlates income and also shows what they spend their money on.

100% you dodged a bullet. Paystubs can be faked right along with references. Your instincts served you well. 

Originally posted by @Drew Sygit :

ALWAYS get a W-2 and a bank statement!

W-2 shows employment and hopefully income stability

Bank statement - Most employers now auto deposit payroll, so correlates income and also shows what they spend their money on.

 I would say, always verify any document. With todays technology, it is extremely easy to edit documents. You need to verify with a third party that what they are sending you is real.

Originally posted by @Joe S. :

This is the reason why I’m starting to put more of my properties with a property management company. They are supposed to be professionals at screening applicants.

This is no guarantee of good tenants....  I have had tenants that  were poorly screened from the old PM who are not paying rent.... (one has bankruptcies and evictions easily findable via google)  this (and many other issues)  is why I self manage 

if this applicant is a professional tenant I would be sure to send a notice of why you declined her and be sure to use only your posted criteria as reasons why. Ie if you require a 650 fico and she has a 625 use that as the reason.  applicants can sue for discrimination and you need to protect yourself.... (or ask your atty how you should respond) 

@Jacob Beg

So if you feel as though they might not be who they say they are then ran as fast and far away as possible. Poor credit is enough to deny someone let alone all the other misleading scenarios. Landlord passed mother won’t guarantor(red flag, does family not trust her) no bank account, no actually proof of employment. One of these things is a lethal problem let alone all of them together. If upu have to even guess if they are worthy tenants then they aren’t worthy. Wait it put dor hood tenants because the extra time waiting is much better than having to evict or them trashing your place or the million only things that can go wrong.

Like Mary said make sure you deny her foe a proper reason snd not just a gut feeling. Credit score limits is a perfect out and honestly anyone with poor credit shouldn’t be approved anyway. They have poor credit for a reason. I did at one time in my life because I didn’t pay my bills. Now my credit is excellent but back then I would have been a risk.

Some think we are in the finding the perfect renter business. 

We are actually in the bullet dodging business.  

Anytime there are multiple, long or quick, vague , non-verifiable answers?  It's a bullet.  

Prevuous LL dead and a relative?  Thats a double-tap.  

Usually they just say their previious deal was a roommate situation and or the place burned down or was sold and the owner moved out of state and sadly, their contact info is unknown.  LOL 

@Jacob Beg    No depositing of checks at her income level and mom won't co-sign  pushed me to a no.  I think you did dodge a bullet.  

I think some prospective tenants missed their call, they should have become fiction writers.