Tenant screening: was overseas, SmartMove shows a recent check

4 Replies

I am renting out the ADU behind my home for the first time (my first tenant came with the house when I purchased) and am seeking some advice on tenant screening.

I see Landlord Solutions did a credit check about a week ago, but the applicant is still looking for a place. So I'm wondering if she was denied and what they saw that I don't.

She's spent the last 15+ years living overseas working for the Department of Defense, so I'm struggling with doing the background check. She has indicated that she lived in the same apartment for 13 years, but I'm not able to call the landlord to confirm and her credit report (mysmartmove) only shows APO addresses.

I will call her place of employment tomorrow to confirm her work and income. 

Anything else I should consider?


Thanks in advance!

You can't use the one size fit all model of screening tenants because if you did this long enough, they'll be a few odd ball cases that doesn't fit the norm.

It your case, I would consider her long employment history. For government agencies, they normally address written requests. Also, see if can see her tax returns say for the last two or three years, or even longer.

This one is easier than one case I had where I had to rent to a bunch of nuns of a religious order. If you belong to the order, they provide living quarters (the convent), employment (you don't get a paycheck but you're provided a job), and the order provides food and medical. On retirement they get to live in the convent and get meals. I made some calls and had to rely on my gut. I could say "no" and tell them I have no idea how to screen nuns. The orders accounting department issue all the rent checks and they tell me it's easier if they issue one check for the year. There's been discussions on this site against taking a years rent up front, but I accepted a years post dated checks. 

My wife is quite religious, Catholic, went to Catholic school as a young girl, and back then the classes are taught mainly by nuns. So we are fond of nuns and quite reluctant to say "I can't do tenant screening on nuns". In a concession to the modern world, the order does issue photo ID cards and will confirm if they belong to the order.

Same in your case. But the applicant can provide more info to you than the nuns can for me. And if the person worked for the Defense Department, as for me, I'll show some patriotism, go the extra mile to find ways to qualify him or her.

@Karin Landsberg If the tenant applicant has good credit and you can confirm her income and employment with the DoD then I would move forward with them. 

The credit check shows address history so you should be able to confirm she resided at the same address for 30 years. You already saw she had an APO address, which is one form of confirmation.

Her employment records should also confirm an address and her employer.

If credit and income are really good, I don't care as much about the Landlord reference.

There is nothing unusual with her applying somewhere else a week earlier. She probably applied for a place and it was rented already or she changed her mind. There's nothing wrong with talking to her and asking this question.

Thanks everyone! I'm proceeding with employment verification - bureaucracy takes a day or two. And I asked her about the credit pull a week ago - completely satisfied with her explanation. 

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