Short Term Rentals to Traveling Nurses

29 Replies

Hey guys,

Looking for advise. I recently turned one of my SFH into a house for transient workers (traveling nurses, ect). I've found great demand for the product, but everyone backs out when I ask them to do the following.

Fill out an applicant

Go through the background/credit check

Pay a security deposit or move in fee

Am I going about this wrong? I've had 4 qualified candidates back out because of these things. I don't feel comfortable letting them in without knowing anything about them, or getting any kind of security deposit.

Does anyone else do this strategy? What have you found works/doesnt work?

If I was a traveling worker, I would not bother trying to rent from you.  My only qualifications are to have a job with a per diem, and have the first weeks rent up front.  23 STRs, 83 beds, 1400 previous renters.

No application, no background check, no deposit, no move in fee.  I just show them the house and they pay me money.   I give them a key and tell them where to find the house instructions and wifi password, it's always on the fridge.

@Michael Ablan Based on what I've gathered in the space, it's not typical to have these requirements, and that's probably why they're backing out.  It seems reasonable to ask for proof of employment, perhaps a (small) security deposit, but beyond that, they don't want to bother with the usual "getting an apartment" paperwork. This is anecdotal, as I haven't done this myself (yet), but that's what I've seen.

What sources are you using to find your potential tenants?  And are you renting by the room, or the entire space?  I want to start using my spare bedrooms for this purpose, especially since I seem to be out of town more often than not, ha!

Four applicants is not great demand. They may be backing out in part because they have have problems. 

for my long-term tenants, I ask these questions:
... tell me about your pet situation
... How many people will be living in the unit?
... are the people in the unit inside outside or non-smokers?
... if I did a drug, criminal, credit check on you, is there anything I should know?

and by extending the process, some of them may have found other accommodations. You need to be lightning fast to get a prospect. They want to hear that they have the place and that it suits their needs at the price they think is Worthy.

perhaps instead of a formal credit check, you should be using something like USA search to try to find potential problems.

Originally posted by @Michael Ablan :

Hey guys,

Looking for advise. I recently turned one of my SFH into a house for transient workers (traveling nurses, ect). I've found great demand for the product, but everyone backs out when I ask them to do the following.

Fill out an applicant

Go through the background/credit check

Pay a security deposit or move in fee

Am I going about this wrong? I've had 4 qualified candidates back out because of these things. I don't feel comfortable letting them in without knowing anything about them, or getting any kind of security deposit.

Does anyone else do this strategy? What have you found works/doesnt work?

Hi Michael, interesting strategy for your SFH. If this was a standard rental process then yes, I'd recommend going through the process of applications/screening steps, a background check, and then require the deposit; since it sounds like the house is being rented to transient workers though, the very nature of the work situation calls for a bit more flexibility on the renting end.


Just a suggestion, it could be that for something which feels a bit more temporary/shorter time warrants a bit more flexibility from a screening standpoint. It comes down to setting expectations; did any of the applicants provide specific, detailed reasoning for backing out? 


This can definitely help as far as making the right adjustments to your strategy (since it sounds like you had 4 qualified leads and you don't want to lose out on another, that feedback is crucial; they completed the applications but didn't proceed past that point - sounds like it could be a deposit issue). Again, it is about setting the expectations early on and with the nature of the applicants being more transient with their work, you may need to reconsider the strategy. I hope this helps! If you decide to go a different route and do sign a longer-term lease feel free to reach out. I may have some recommendations around resources you can use to make managing your rental process easier. 

Hi @Michael Ablan , I would check the rental laws around these types of rentals. IE: When do the strict tenant rights laws kick in? Anything over 30 days? 90 days? I think that will dictate your required paperwork.

I had an interested husband and wife physical therapists who were planning on doing a job share at our local hospital for 3 months. They ended up not getting the job, but I didn't require anything much different from the usual for vacationers. $500 deposit, monthly rent (I changed it for the winter months and LT) plus signing a proper rental agreement for the 90 days.

Personally I wouldn't rent to anyone without a rental agreement stating the terms and a small deposit. They need to have some skin in the game.

@Paul Sandhu has a streamlined system that works for his type of rentals but I wouldn't do it with mine.

Idaho is very pro owner but I work everything like I am in CA. I don't want anyone trying to get over on me. 

@John Underwood -  I have it listed on Airbnb at the moment.  A couple of people have reached out to me on there, but they backed out once I asked told them there would be some sort of deposit collected.

@Paul Sandhu - So you do by the week rental?  You don't do anything to hedge against the possibility of damages?  Why not?

@Julie McCoy -  Yeah, thats what I'm finding as well.  I probably should have done some research before just jumping into marketing it.   I'm renting by the room and using the normal facebook, zillow, craigslist, furnished finder, airbnb, vrbo.

@Ken Latchers - I've had a least 50~ requests because I was trying to limit this strictly to traveling nursing staff.  I'm worried about mixing up male/female in the house to be honest.  I'm trying to keep it all female and within the hospital community.  I've never heard of USA search.  I'll check into that. Thank you.

@Rob B.   I tell them upfront in my ad and in my conversation what's required. We engage in conversation and then I repeat the fact that they need to go through the process and pay the deposit.  That's when they back out.  The issue is 100% the security deposit/move in fee.  I didn't think it would be so out of the question, considering most AIRBNBs require a deposit for something as short as a 3 night stay.  

@Michael Baum - I agree.  I don't feel like it's completely unreasonable to request they make a deposit.  However, that's been the axe to each one of these applicants.  Had I waived the deposit, I'd have a full house right now.  But since I stuck to my guns, I'm sitting at 1 of 4.  However, this reminds me of all of the people I say no to when renting long term.  The ones who buck against my requirements always seem to be the tenants I don't want anyways.  But is this different?  

At this point I'm removing all my security deposits and fees.  I'm going to run with just the rent and see how it plays out.  I think I can bill back any damages to the leasing agency, but I need to get more details on that.

I know on VRBO I get a deposit and I can set the dollar amount of the deposit. Both VRBO and Airbnb have extra coverage. Make sure you have a STR commercial policy to cover you incase of damage.

@Michael Ablan   My tenants are refinery contractors. My official job is giving them pre-employment pre-access drug screens.  My tenants work 10-12 hours a day, outside, 6-7 days a week.  When they get off work they just want to drink beer, cook some food, do laundry, take a shower and sleep.  They don't have the time to tear things up.  I also visit the house once a week to check on things.  98 percent of my rental volume is left damage free.  1% have accidental damage.  1% have intentional damage.  100% of the time the intentional damage was cause by 2 people fighting.  Think of the mall scene in Terminator 2.  Half the time they will do the drywall repair themselves.  The other half of the time I do it.  First time I did it there was an entire indentation of a persons upper body in the wall.  I could lean back into it and it fit me perfectly.  Of the 2 guys that stayed at the house, one was 6'4" and the other 5'8".  The 5'8" was thrown in the wall.  I'm 5'8".

@Paul Sandhu pays an average of $9500 for his 3 bedroom homes so the risk is much less that most.

@Michael Ablan , it sounds like you are renting per room and not the whole place so the deposit part is moot. Maybe $100 bucks per person each new one that shows up. Also, you could streamline the agreement, layout usage areas for each person etc. I don't think anyone would have a problem with a $100 deposit. It ain't much and it wouldn't pay to repaint the room they stayed in, but the psychological effect is present and that works.

Personally I think it is a bit different as these folks are professionals who are coming for work then heading home. They don't want to spend a bunch up front just to stay for 30 days or whatever. Very different than a LTR who can't meet the requirements. That is a headache that is tougher to make move on. 

@John Underwood - Are you talking in terms of regular property insurance?  I will have to talk to my broker about this asap.  Thanks for bringing that up!

@Paul Sandhu -  Very, very good point.  Most of these nurses are working 12 hour shifts and aren't spending much time in the house at all.  I guess when you think about it that way, they can't really damage things when all their time is spent sleeping or sitting on the couch watching netflix.  I just hope I don't have to deal with any of these girls tossing each other through walls ;).  Thanks for your input, it's really appreciated.  

@Michael Baum -  That's not a bad idea.  I think I may try lowering it to something like that after my first wave of turnovers.  I was hoping a $325 deposit would be low enough, but they still balked at that.  And yes, I agree that this is a different ball and dance than LTR.  I know my behavior is much different anytime I'm away for work or on vacation.  Thanks for your input!

Originally posted by @Michael Ablan :

@John Underwood - Are you talking in terms of regular property insurance?  I will have to talk to my broker about this asap.  Thanks for bringing that up!



No not regular property insurance.

You are running a STR business and need commercial insurance or you will not be covered.

Look at CBIZ, Proper and Foremost.

Michael there is no deposit collected on airbnb.  Deposit on airbnb is a joke and that's the number one reason some tenants prefer airbnb. So you are not losing anything by not dealing with those ones. 

I think your challenge is a mix of both. Maybe you should adopt a softer language and avoid appartement rental vocabulary,  but not give up on background check and deposit.  Mid term rentals should be more flexible than the traditional LTR, but it's ok to have an agreement,  and a damage deposit.  I have it evenfor a 2 nights vrbo tenant and it has not been a reason to lose any client,  the type I want to see in my property. 

Your registered nurse tenants will have a nursing license to protect so you arent going to the same issues as @Paul Sandhu tenants. In most states you can run a name or license number to see if the nursing license is active or revoked for some reason if you want some sort of background check. If the deposit is an issue make it a reservation deposit until move in. There are specific online sites that list for this subgroup of tenants.

I rent out to refinery workers just like @Paul Sandhu .  You'd be in a very similiar situation with nurses.  I would ask them where they are working and get the renters contact info.  If they are in town for work the likelihood of them tearing the place up is very minimal and they are looking for a place that they can book quickly and not have to bother with screening, setting up utilities, etc.  I use a very simple agreement that states how much rent is and when it's due. I get their contact info just in case and charge a premium so if there was small damage which is hardly the case I'd be able to take care of it.

Seems odd folks won't provide this information. We have folks provide a picture of their badge or assignment letter, complete a background check application, and place a deposit. They pay the full amount when they arrive. If someone is unwilling to do this, then frankly we do not want them as tenants. But we've never had an issue as traveling nurses are some of our favorite tenants.

Hi @Michael Ablan . I myself just signed a 14 week lease and gave a $500 security deposit and nothing else besides my personal contact information. No application, no background check, no move in fees. In return we get use of a house in the Hamptons with the traveling owner while teaching nearby for the fall. I did however require meeting the owner first to be sure she owned the house. I’m going to be a traveling teacher living in a $1,000,000 house. Nurses and teachers have a lot at stake and come with reputations. As do refinery workers. 

Good luck. It sounds like you’re figuring out what’ll work for you in your area.

Originally posted by @Nancy Bachety :

 Nurses and teachers have a lot at stake and come with reputations. As do refinery workers. 

Thanks for the plug.

@Michael Ablan I also rent to traveling nurses and many have stated (on the traveling nurses fb pages) that when asked to do screening etc they just don’t rent from that person. The agencies do screenings that they work for. I’d just ask to get a referral from their recruiter instead or There’s a lot of business that you’ll be missing out on.

@Julie N. - Thanks for the feedback.  I've found what you're saying to be 100% true.  I've stopped asking for deposits and having them do the credit pull and background check.  I've filled 3 out of 4 rooms since posting this.  Just need to keep learning and adjusting

@Michael Ablan Just wait until you find one of your tenants unconscious and unresponsive due to a narcotic overdose.  How will you collect their rent?

@Michael Ablan   You would call E.M.S. then pack all their stuff up and leave it in their vehicle after the ambulance and police are gone.  You'll lock the car door and take the car key.  You'll lock the house and take the house key  You'll leave the car key at the hospital and bill their employer for the rent and your fees for dealing with a critical situation.  That's what I did, more or less.  My guy was within walking distance of the house he od'd in, 3 blocks.  He was discharged in a paper gown and cried the whole way to his vehicle.