Need advice for finding renters in San Antonio

10 Replies

I am looking for some San Antonio landlord advice - how picky are y'all? I'm hard pressed to find potential renters who don't have major financial blemishes, let alone criminal records to boot. It seems every potential tenant has at least a few accounts in collections. Is this common? Should I rent to them? I've decided I have a hard-fast rule against felonies and recent arrests involving violence or drugs. And I know not to rent to anyone with evictions on their record. But if rent history is good and criminal history checks out, do you deny an applicant based on accounts in collections? I'm thinking if they don't pay their bills, why do I think they would pay their rent?

@Betty Cruz   You may want to modify your post because you are now putting out to the world that you will not rent to anyone with a felony conviction.  This is a violation of the recent shift in the law for disparate impact.  

In the order of tenant approval, income is king, and rental history is queen.  If they make good money, and pay their rent (both the king and queen as mentioned) - they will most likely be good tenants.  If they don't pay their AmEx bill on time, that may not affect you as a landlord at all.  

Probably best for you to re-visit your stance on screening tenants so you are not in violation of any laws of Fair Housing, Disparate Impact, or Discrimination.

Good luck out there! 

There are great tenants out there- as a landlord you have to be patient and screen properly. That is literally the most important job you have. Also consider the neighborhood and condition of your property. What kind of tenants are you attracting? Finally, I can tell you from experience, a month or two of vacancy is much less expensive and painful than a year or two or five with a terrible tenant. Good luck!

Thanks @Corby Goade  - my property is beautiful. That's a priority for us to make sure the places we rent are in great condition.  I appreciate your encouragement to be patient. 

@Brad Larsen - thank you for your insight and expertise. Question - if they lie on their application, is that grounds to deny?

I think this is a more difficult time of year to fill a vacancy than summer. Consider a 6 month or 18 month lease when you find a good tenant so renewals fall in summer. This worked well for us last winter. 

     The disparate impact post was very helpful. I didn't know that. 

     I lowered my credit requirements after the first couple of years and began to feel like credit may be why they rent houses for more than mortgage payments would be. I don't accept applicants with evictions. Hope that is still legal. Steady job with good pay is great. 

      Most of ours fall well below 700 credit but they are all excellent tenants.  Most of our rents are 1050-1400 if that is helpful. Not sure what price point you are at. 

Best of luck!

Nolo says landlords can deny a rental applicant for past criminal history. Not a protected class. However it sounds like drug abuse may fall into an illness sort if gray area and if a past conviction for drug abuse alone you may want to look into whether you have other reasons to refuse. My brother rented his condo to a recovering alchoholic who actually was a recovering drug addict. Nice guy but he relapsed and covered the heat lamp it the bathroom with a towel and left it on, started a fire, towel dropped and burned plastic tub, corner of cabinet, soot everywhere. Thought someone was spying on him.

Also, I have better luck with tenant quality with hotpads/zillow/trulia over craigslist.

@Betty Cruz we have had to be more open to bad credit than we initially planned for. My wife does the screening, but she weighs, income, rental history/references, and no evictions, more than the credit score. Mostly due to so few applicants having "good" credit. All four of our homes are rented by families with a dog. I think we get slightly above market rents, due to allowing pets, being flexible with credit score, and marketing on Zillow, HotPads, type of sites more than Craig's list. We will likely use Facebook to market next time we have a vacancy. Good luck!

@Will Pritchett @Marian Smith @Todd Nurnberger - thank you all so much. Very helpful tips were provided. I was patient and found a lovely renter. I considered 18 months as Will suggested but thought better of it because I didn't want to lock into it in case the tenant wasn't working out. But if it's a great 12 months, I will renew her for 18 months. I'm wondering how long Ian an average time to fill vacancies. I have placed 6 renters since May and all took 3-4 weeks from the time I advertised to the day they signed a lease. Is this about average?

I think you could shorten the time frame in peak months and by listing it a month before tenant moves out. We have a right to show property during the last month of the lease written into our lease.  They can refuse that for a fee to compensate for the delay in re-leasing the home. 

     We have had a lease signed two weeks before old tenant moves out and given ourselves three days for cleanup and moving in the new tenant. 

     I have begun to consider longer leases as these turnovers are our biggest expense. We also take very good care of the good tenants. It is a win-win if they are happy in their home. 

     Congrats on holding out for a good tenant!

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