This article is the fourth in a 5-part series that walks you through the tenant screening process, at least as we see it best performed. This part of the series explains how to make the final decision, looking at the attributes that make a good renter so that you can know you’ve made the right decision when you approve a tenant. We’ll also talk about how to best handle rejecting tenants as this can be awkward and sometimes have legal implications. In our previous post on this subject, we talked about the rental application itself, and what goes into the application. If you’re just joining us on this epic, then we recommend reviewing what’s previously been discussed below.

A Quick Recap: Five Stages to a Good Screening Process

Slide3

Stage 1: First Contact – The prospective tenant calls you for more information about the property and the lease. Ask some pre-screening questions to make sure this prospective tenant isn’t going to waste your time.

Stage 2: The Showing – The prospective tenant has passed stage 1. Now, you’ve scheduled to show the apartment and will meet the prospective tenant(s) face-to-face for the first time. Watch out for these red flags.

Stage 3: The Application – Your prospective tenant is still interested and so are you. Have him or her fill out a rental application that includes references from prior landlords and employers. Run a credit report and criminal check.

Stage 4: Approval Process – This tenant seems like a good candidate. Accept him or her and gently decline all other applicants. Until you have a signed lease, though, you’re not done screening.

Stage 5: Lease Signing – You and your prospective tenant(s) are ready to sign a lease. Go through the lease with him or her carefully and make sure all the rules are completely understood. It’s not too late to rip up the lease if things aren’t going well, even at this point.

So what does a good tenant look like on paper?

First, the rental application on its own won’t tell if you if someone is going to be a good tenant. You’ll have to do a bit of work still to derive that answer. So at this point, we would have expected that you’ve called their prior landlords and current employer. The employer should have confirmed employment and prior landlords shouldn’t have raised any red flags. In fact, if the prior landlord is a company or owns enough units, its actually a good thing if they don’t remember the tenant you’re considering. Not remembering means the tenant didn’t cause any headaches. If you haven’t called these people yet, go back to the prior blog and do your homework. You’re not ready to make this kind of decision yet.

Stability

If you have done your homework, then you may be asking what are some other positive attributes that you can look for to confirm this is more likely to be a good tenant. Stability! At this point you can make an assessment about the stability of your tenant. How long have they been at their current employer? Usually a few years, at least, is a good sign. Statistics have shown that 2 years seems to be a magical number. If someone stays with an employer more than 2 years, they’re more likely to be developing a long-term career and garnering skills that make them an asset at that company – and all the less likely to lose their job. So not only will this tenant be more likely to actually pay the rent, but he or she is more likely to renew their lease for multiple terms. The inference here is that a tenant with a stable job will stay in the area longer and continue to rent for several lease cycles. It also means the current lease payments are more likely to be paid.

Not only can you hope that a tenant renews a lease because of a stable job, but you can judge whether a tenant is more likely to stay multiple terms based how long they lived at some of their prior residences. Seeing a prior residence for two or more years is usually a good sign that the tenant enjoys staying in one place. Of course, this isn’t always accurate. If a tenant just graduated college, then they may have four prior residences, each for just one year. Although, all things being equal, you’d typically prefer tenants that are more likely to stay multiple years. Just think about the headache you went through to get this one tenant. Do you really want to do it all again in just 12 months if you don’t have to?

Disposable Income

OK, is it really your business to know if the tenant has disposable income? Actually, yes! It’s almost precisely your business. You need to now if this tenant can afford your property. There’s a very common metric that landlords use to determine if a tenant can afford the property, called the “3-times rule”. Is the tenant’s gross income greater than 3 times the asking rent amount? If you’re asking for $1,000 per month, then the tenant (or combined tenants in the case of roommates) should have an income greater than $3,000 per month. It’s a simple, straightforward rule.

But since you pulled a credit report, you can do one better. What the “3-times” rule doesn’t take into account is what other things the tenant has to pay off out of that income. That’s why you can pull the total monthly payment amount for all debts right off the credit report and see what impact that makes to the affordability rule. Here, we typically apply a new rule, called the “40%” rule. The rule goes as follows: the asking rent should be no more than 40% of the tenant’s monthly gross income minus all other monthly debt obligations. You just have to make sure you’re leaving enough room where a tenant, after all debts, has enough to pay the rent and pay for food. Because let’s face it, if it comes down to a choice between paying rent this month and eating, the choice is obvious.

Accountability

In our prior article in this series, we mentioned that you’re basically a new creditor for this tenant. So if you want to see how you’ll be treated, you can see how the tenant has treated other creditors. Most credit reports will show you a calendar view of when tenants’ payments were late and by how much (our reports show this as 30 days late, 60 days late, etc.). If you’re not seeing any accounts where there were late payments, that’s really good. It means the tenant is extremely aware of their obligations and makes a best effort to pay everything on time always.

If you see a few late payments on some accounts, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker. You’ll just need to determine if its a pattern or a one-time thing. You can also look and see when these late payments have occurred. If they occurred a couple years ago in the past and not recently, that could be a good indication that the tenant may have gone through a temporary struggle and has since recovered. However, if you’re seeing a pattern and its recent, you can likely expect the same pattern with your rent payments.

It’s Not Just Whats On Paper, Though

If you’ve followed us through this screening process from the beginning, then you’ve got some extra tidbits besides just the rental application. Hopefully you’ve met the tenants face-to-face at least one-time. This is sometimes the best way to identify red flags. Although we don’t recommend landlords accepting tenants based on just a meeting (always get the application and credit report!), there’s plenty of things you can uncover while meeting a tenant in person that might set of your “creepy” sense. These are things you can look into after you’ve met the tenant. We’ll talk more about fair housing laws in a bit, but just be careful not to discriminate.

Are there red flags to watch out for?

No Credit History

One of the things that landlords can sometimes get caught by are tenants who have no credit history. Considering a tenant with no history is akin to being Christopher Columbus first landing in America. You just don’t know what to expect from the tenant and how they’ll treat you as a creditor. Typically this is a college student or someone just out of school. In these cases, and other cases where you’re on the fence about accepting the tenant, you may consider requiring a guarantor on the lease or a cosigner. You can also always request a larger security deposit or several months rent up front. Just keep in mind that many cities limit you to a maximum that you can take on a deposit or up-front rent.

High Levels of Debt

The more debt the tenant has, the harder it will be to meet all the obligations plus make rent payments. This is especially true if it looks like a lot of the debt has been added recently or is escalating. Make sure to follow the “3-times” and “40%” rules mentioned earlier.

History of Criminal Activity

Criminal activity is not a protected class according to Fair Housing Laws. Therefore, it’s perfectly acceptable if you decide to decline an applicant because of criminal history. You just have to ask yourself if you’re comfortable or not. However, you are liable for any crime that occurs on your property. There are some types of crimes where you may legally not be allowed to accept the applicant as a tenant. For instance, some sex offenders and violent criminals are not allowed to live a certain distance from schools or children. If you have children next door, this is not a tenant you can rent to./p>

Gaps in History

Sometimes you’ll see a year missing (or several years) from a residence history. It’s worth following up with the applicant about these years. Are they trying to hide a bad situation with a prior landlord? That might be exactly who you need to get references from.

The First Payment

The first payments you receive from a tenant should actually be well before the tenant ever moves in. First month’s rent should always be taken at the same time, or within a couple days, of the lease being signed. And the lease should be signed well in advance of the move-in date. It’s also typical to take a security deposit up-front thats equivalent to the first month’s rent. First, this shows the tenant is serious and has money at stake. But most importantly, it shows that the tenant has saved up the money for the first month’s rent and deposit and can therefore afford the rent. Be wary of tenants that push back too much on security deposits. And I can’t think of a good reason why you’d ever want to allow a tenant to move-in without giving you the first month’s rent up-front.

Accepting the Applicant

It’s easy from here, assuming that the tenant is still interested in renting and hasn’t found another place to rent. A quick call or email to the tenant to double-check is all that’s really needed. Let them know that you’ve received their application and that the place is theirs if they want it. This would also be a good time to let them know what the next steps are, which is to sign a lease, collect the first month’s rent and deposit, and confirm dates (move-in date, date they can get the keys, etc.).

At this point, you’ll want to make sure to get a copy of the lease over to the tenant(s) as soon as possible. In fact, it’s recommended that you make sure to add a deadline on signing the lease. Otherwise, you’re at risk that the tenant drags their feet for a couple weeks and decides not to move in. Then you have to start the whole process over again and could end up with a vacant property. A deadline to sign the lease somewhere between 24 and 72 hours is reasonable.

If you’re using a service like ours to sign the lease online, then its all digital so it can actually be done quite quickly (in a matter of just minutes. If you can get the first month’s rent and deposit at the same time that’s ideal. Otherwise, we recommend getting that rent and deposit within 7 days of the lease being signed and well before the tenant moves in. The lease isn’t valid until the first month’s rent and deposit clear.

Rejecting Applicants

If you know a tenant doesn’t pass your criteria, reject them immediately so that they can continue looking for rentals elsewhere. Just be sure that you’re doing this fairly and that all prospective tenants have a chance to go through the entire screening process. Fair Housing Laws require that you treat all tenants equally, so you should require an application, credit report and background check from everyone. No exceptions.

If you’re lucky enough to be in a situation where there are several groups of potential tenants that you would rent to, then extend an offer to one group and wait for their response before notifying the remaining applicants that the property is no longer available. This is just to protect you incase your first choice of tenants no longer wants the property. This is also why its important to go through this process quickly. The longer you take, the less likely tenants will still be in the market.

It’s also important mentioning quickly what you can and cannot reject tenants based on. According to Fair Housing Laws, you cannot reject tenants based on a protected class like gender, age, race, ethnicity, etc. You can, however, reject tenants based on their credit report, criminal history, references from other landlords, income, or any other reason thats not part of a protected class. When rejecting a tenant, its best to do this in writing (email works great) so that you have evidence as to why you rejected them. Just in case a lawsuit ever arises.

If you’re looking for some wording… “We’re sorry to let you know that the property at [address] is no longer available. At this time, we’ve rented this property to other applicants. Thank you.”

Keep in mind you should only tell tenants that you’ve rented the unit to other applicants if it is true. Prospective tenants could claim you are rejecting them for discriminating reasons. To avoid this, you can always just say, “We’re sorry but we’ve rejected your application. If you have any questions, please let us know. Thank you.”

 JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

Get new landlord content direct to your inbox monthly.

  • Kerry

    And if the property has not yet been rented to someone else and you need to reject, do you have suggested wording for that as well? Thanks!

    • kasiamanolas

      Hi Kerry, we suggest saying “Thank you for your interest but we decided to go in another direction.” Let us know if you have any questions!

  • kasiamanolas

    Hi Jeni, if your unit is still available and you want to reject an applicant, you could say “Thanks for your interest but we decided to go in another direction.” If you have any other questions, please let us know!

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Karen, we’re so glad you love our site. That’s a great question- you can reject an applicant with the recommended wording from the article, “We’re sorry to inform you that the [property address] is no longer available. At this time, we’ve rented this property to other applicants. Thank you.” If you have more questions, please let us know.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Roger, I’m sorry the landlord decided to go with another tenant. It sounds like the landlord found someone who was willing to pay the desired rent price, even though your negotiation was very fair and you would be a responsible tenant. If you need any help in your search for a new rental, please let us know how we can assist you.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Syreeta, it depends on if the tenant has signed a lease or not. If the tenant signed a lease agreeing to pay rent, then he or she is legally responsible for paying rent. Please let us know if you have any questions about this.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Roger, that’s interesting that your landlord had previously told you he rented it to someone else. It’s possible he wanted to end negotiations with you and move on to an even higher rent price. As long as you know what you’re looking for and can continue your search, it will all work out. If you have questions on how to continue your search for a rental please let us know.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi, I’m sorry they’re dragging their feet and not acting in a timely manner. You should talk to them and negotiate like you said. Set a deadline for when they need to give you a lease by. You can always walk away and find a new property with a different landlord. This kind of behavior from the landlord is unprofessional. You’ve paid your deposit so you would need your deposit back if they don’t give you a lease by a certain day. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Roger, I’m glad you found a rental property in your neighborhood that worked out! The other landlord is unresponsive, so it’s for the best that you did not end up renting from him. That is odd that the rental property seems to be rented but is empty. It’s possible the new tenant hasn’t moved in just yet. If you need our assistance in the future, please let us know.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Cat, it’s unprofessional for the landlord to not get back to you, but not illegal. That being said, if you reach out and specifically ask the landlord, “Why was I rejected?” You are legally obligated to know why the landlord is not renting to you if you reach out and ask. Please let us know if you have any further questions.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Tomika, that does sound rather unprofessional. Have you signed a lease or you were only given a move-in date? Unfortunately, the landlord can back out if you haven’t both signed the lease yet. While it is unprofessional to give you a move-in date and then say you were not approved, it is illegal. You should speak to him or her about the holding fee. Holding fees are designed to give the landlord assurance that you will move in. Since he backed out, you should be able to recover the fee. Best, Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Danielle, I’m so sorry your landlord hasn’t finalized the renewal. I would continue to follow up with him or her. Chances are your landlord is being slow with the paperwork and following up with you, but is still planning on renewing with you. If you’re not confident the renewal will happen, you can also begin looking elsewhere. Best, Kasia.

  • Patricia Kennedy

    I am an owner using a property management company. They will not give me any info about the people they have selected as renters until they have signed the lease and paid the deposit. Just wondered why it has to remain secret until then. Thanks.

    • Kasia Manolas

      Hi Patricia, you have a right to know who might be living in your property. Have you tried asking the company why they are not disclosing information? There’s no reason why the information should have to remain secret until a lease is signed. I recommend talking to them and if the company isn’t working out for you, you can manage your property yourself with us at Rentalutions. We make it easy for you to screen tenants yourself and sign a lease. If you have any questions about how to move forward in your situation, please let us know. Best, Kasia.

  • Asher

    I was approved for a rental by the landlord. I and my husband (same sex ) are both on the application. The property manager got back to me and said, all though our application was in first and we met all criteria, the landlord chose a family to rent instead of us. Is this legal? This was in Florida for clarification

    • Kasia Manolas

      Hi Asher, it’s illegal to deny a tenant housing over sexual orientation. I recommend reaching out to the landlord and asking why you were denied. You can check out our article to learn more about housing discrimination: https://www.rentalutions.com/education/articles/what-is-rental-housing-discrimination/

      If you believe you were wrongfully denied housing, you could file a lawsuit. But I recommend talking to the landlord first. If you have questions, please let us know. Best, Kasia.

  • I submitted an application for screening for a rental unit. Now i am feeling like I do not want to move in to that place. Is it ok to let the owner know that? Will i be charged anything?

    • Kasia Manolas

      Hi Anil,

      Yes, it’s okay to let the landlord know you are no longer interested. It’s possible you will still be charged since you completed the application and screening. Please let us know if you have any further questions.
      Best, Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Andrea,
    We recommend having requirements for your tenant screening criteria (income, debt, prior foreclosures, credit score, etc.) and following your requirements strictly. If you’re noticing red flags during tenant screening, it’s usually best to deny that tenant. We provide more information in this article on how to properly accept or deny tenants:
    https://www.rentalutions.com/education/guides/complete-guide-to-tenant-screening/how-to-accept-or-deny-prospective-tenants/
    Please let us know if you have further questions.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Krishna, yes that’s a fair reason for a landlord to reject an applicant. Landlords are allowed to choose a tenant on the basis that he or she is willing to pay the asking price or move-in on a desired date. Please let us know if you have further questions. Best, Kasia.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Rebecca,
    Landlords aren’t allowed to say they don’t rent to students or a certain age group, if that’s what he means by ‘mature.’ That would be considered housing discrimination, according to Fair Housing Laws. You can suggest he lets you apply and meet in person at a showing to help determine that you are indeed a well-qualified tenant. Please let us know if you have further questions. Best, Kasia.

  • Brian Hourigan

    If you collect an application fee and have multiple parties wanting to submit applications, then do you refund the application fees for the applicants that you ultimately reject? Or are application fees non-refundable even though there are multiple applicants?

    • Kasia Manolas

      Hi Brian, it’s up to you whether you want to refund the applicants that you ultimately reject. It’s standard for landlords to not provide a refund. The applicants are paying to apply and they did successfully apply. Paying an application fee is not a guarantee that they will be accepted. If you have any other questions, please let us know. Best, Kasia.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Ms. Raye,
    I’m sorry they did not abide by their policy. I’m not a lawyer so unfortunately I can’t provide legal advice on the matter. If you want to legally press the issue, I recommend finding a real estate lawyer in your area who specializes in cases like this. Please let us know if you have any further question. Best, Kasia.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Jeffery, you have a right to challenge the credit report that was pulled. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the landlord is a “user of a consumer report” and has to act on it fairly. If the report has inaccurate information you can challenge it. I recommend requesting a credit report or seeing the credit report that your landlord pulled and reviewing it for accuracy. You’ll likely need to contact the credit bureau to fix any inaccuracies. Please let us know if you have further questions. Best, Kasia.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Jeffrey,
    At this point, it would probably be better to look for a different rental property to rent. If you wish to take legal action against the landlord for rejecting you, you probably can, seeing as how they rejected your application based on an inaccurate report. Please let us know if you have any further questions. Best, Kasia.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Mitch,
    Typically, you shouldn’t sign a contract (a rental lease) with a landlord until you are approved and you’ve decided to live there. In the future, we also recommend not paying the landlord until you’ve signed a contract. It’s more secure that way. I recommend talking to the landlord about the situation. Technically, they should not have asked for first and last down on an apartment if they had not officially approved you yet. You may be able to get out of the lease and get your money back, but unfortunately since you already signed, it’s possible the landlord will not be okay with this. Please let us know if you have any questions.
    Best, Kasia.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Jerniece,
    When you apply to an apartment, the landlord will go through your application and try to determine if you are the right tenant to rent to. You can ask the landlord why he or she rejected your application. It’s possible there was another tenant willing to rent for longer than 12 months, or some other reason. Please let us know if you have any questions.
    Best,
    Kasia

    • Jerniece Carter

      She said it was because of my credit

      • Kasia Manolas

        Hi,
        It’s possible your credit didn’t meet her criteria for renting. You can ask her the specifics as to why she did not rent to you. Let us know if you have any further questions. Best, Kasia.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Shawn,
    We recommend each applicant completes a separate application for this reason. This helps clear up some confusion on who you are accepting/denying. If you have two applicants on an application and you are denying one of them, then you should probably just deny both (I’m assuming this is a couple or roommates). Let us know if you have any questions about how to move forward.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Carrie,
    Yes, an email works well. That way your response is in writing and you can reference it at any time. Let us know if you have questions about this.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Shawn,
    It’s up to you as to how you want to handle the situation. You can give the roommate the opportunity to find another roommate or just find all new tenants that you want to rent to. Let us know if you have any questions.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Yazmeenx513

    I applied for a house and I believe I was the only one. Anyhow 2 days later, agent messages me and tells me she is almost done processing my application just needs 8 months of cancelled rent checks. I do just that. So next day (today) the rental property status says pending on a few sites. I never received a call yet, could someone else have been approved?

    • Kasia Manolas

      Hi,
      I recommend asking the landlord. It’s possible the landlord approved someone else, but you can always follow up to find out since you’re waiting to know.
      Best,
      Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Casey,
    Yes, you could certainly do it on a first come first serve basis, if everything else is equal.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Katie,
    That is a legitimate concern. You can choose to not rent to this tenant for this reason. We recommend renting to a tenant who you feel certain will take care of the property, follow rules, and pay rent on time. If you’re concerned his uncle would move in without approval, then you can certainly move on to another prospective tenant.
    Let us know if you have any questions.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Michael,
    Typically landlords are only required to tell you the reason for rejection if it’s due to an issue on your credit report. This is a result of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. However, if you’re talking about Melbourne, Australia then I’m not familiar with the laws there. You can consult a lawyer to find out specifically how to go about the situation, or you can apply elsewhere. Let me know if you have any questions.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Nicole,
    I’m not familiar with how house tenancy lease transfers work. I recommend talking to a lawyer about this issue or talking to the landlord directly about how to best move forward.
    Please let me know if there’s anything we can do to help.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Matt,

    Landlords can’t reject you based on age, retirement status, etc. This is discrimination according to the Fair Housing Laws. It’s also odd to approve you and give you a lease and then cancel. If you and you landlord signed the lease then it is a legal binding document and they cannot break it simply by saying so. I recommend checking out this article:

    https://www.rentalutions.com/education/articles/what-is-rental-housing-discrimination/

    If you have any questions, please let us know.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Marie,

    Are you referring to a lease renewal? It’s possible your landlord will want you to fill out a new application to stay updated on your employer info, etc. You can ask him or her for the reason behind it if you are unsure you want to move forward with the lease due to refilling out the application.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • tim hatch

    Can a landlord ask for a background check 6 years after occupancy? I have never been late or caused any problems.

    • Kasia Manolas

      Hi Tim,
      Landlords typically only ask for background checks when they’re screening tenants, so before you sign a lease and live in the property. I’m not sure whether it’s legal/illegal for them to ask for once you’ve been living there. I recommend asking your landlord why he or she wants to run a background check. Since you signed a lease and have been a good tenant for 6 years, I don’t see why you would be required to authorize one.
      Best,
      Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Brittany,
    Landlords should not collect money before you both sign an official document. If the money was an application fee then this makes sense. However, she should not have collected a deposit and then didn’t return it when you were rejected. I recommend following up with her.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi,
    Typically application fees are not returned. You can always ask the landlord before paying.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Yan,
    It depends on your reason for not wanting to hand out the application. If it’s because you already know the applicant doesn’t fulfill your requirements (doesn’t make enough income, etc) then you don’t have to unnecessarily have the tenant fill out an application. If you have any questions, please let us know.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Jean Shaffer

    The company I work for asks for an updated application each time a tenant moves properties (we have hundreds) or if it has been more than two years since the last application and they are renewing. This keeps us up to date on their employment history.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi,

    Landlords are allowed to accept/deny tenants based on income. It’s ultimately the landlord’s decision as to whether he or she accepts guarantors. If you’re still in the process of looking for an apartment, I recommend reading this guide to finding and applying to apartments.

    https://www.rentalutions.com/education/guides/a-tenants-guide-to-finding-an-apartment/

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Saeunn,

    I recommend reaching out to the landlord and asking why he or she stated that the unit is rented when it is clearly still available. The landlord may have further feedback for you as for why your application was rejected.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi William,

    You’re allowed to reject a tenant if you are worried the two of you will not work well together, which is likely a personality factor. As long as you’re not discriminating or rejecting a tenant based on protection class then you are not violating the law. You can read the following article if you’d like to learn more.

    https://www.rentalutions.com/education/articles/what-is-rental-housing-discrimination/

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Dan

    Hi Kasia, I’m a landlord and reviewing tenants (2) application. Not sure with their income they can afford the rent (@2.3k). Can I reject their application based on their income.
    Thanks.

    • Kasia Manolas

      Hi Dan,

      Yes, you can reject tenants based on income if you’re worried they cannot afford rent. The typical rule of thumb is tenants can afford rent if the rent price is 1/3 of their monthly income.

      Best,
      Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Avraham,

    I’m not positive what the laws are surrounding accepting a government voucher as a security deposit. You need to follow security deposit laws in your location. For example, some cities require that you keep the security deposit in a separate bank account and return the deposit and interest to your tenant. If you can do this with a voucher, then I’m sure it is acceptable. However, you cannot only reject a tenant because of their participation in a Section 8 program or other subsidy programs. To get an official legal answer, I recommend asking a RE attorney, like you mentioned.

    You can read more in-depth about rental housing discrimination here:

    https://www.rentalutions.com/education/articles/what-is-rental-housing-discrimination/

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Yorell Preston

    Hi, Can a landlord/rental property deny an application for an eviction filing but no actual eviction ?

    • Kasia Manolas

      Hi Yorell,

      Yes, a landlord can deny an application due to an eviction filing. Please let us know if you have any other questions.

      Best,
      Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi,

    I think it’s very understandable that you rented to someone who was able to say yes and provide the deposit. While the first party was technically there first, they have to understand that the longer they wait to take action, they reduce their chances are getting the property. You did the right thing by communicating to everyone what was going on.

    If you have any questions in the future, feel free to let us know!

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Dan,

    You’re welcome. The rule of thumb that income should be 3x the rent price is a good guide. But if you feel comfortable renting to someone who doesn’t meet that requirement, you can certainly do that. It’s best to combine information from your screening process to make a well-rounded decision. If the tenant has excellent credit, a history of making payments on time, and no debt, then their income might be sufficient even if it isn’t perfectly 3x the rent price.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi John,

    I recommend communicating with the first tenants. You can let them know that they have by a certain date to sign the lease. And if they don’t, you’ll move forward with other tenants. That way, you’re giving them a fair chance to sign the lease. Setting a deadline should get them to take action. If they don’t sign, then I would go ahead and move forward with the next tenants.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Yorrell,

    Your rental application should ask tenants if they have a history of being evicted. However, you should also run an eviction report. Here’s a link to learn more about requesting an eviction report with us:

    https://www.rentalutions.com/landlords/evictions

    Please let me know if you have any questions on this.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi,

    Landlords have the right to decline you without saying a reason, unless the reason is related to your credit report. You can follow up with the landlord and ask why. But it’s possible they will be vague. If you believe you were rejected for discriminatory reasons (age, gender, etc). then you could take it to court. However, landlords usually say no due to income, needing a co-signor could be part of it, or something to do with the rental process (arriving to the showing on time, responding to emails promptly, etc).

    Please let us know if you have other questions.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Sheryl,

    You have a valid reason for rejecting him. All you have to say is, “We’re sorry, but we’ve rejected your application. Thank you.”

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Rebecca,

    The landlord should be professional and reply to you. If this is not the case, then you may not want to rent from him. You can continue trying to follow up or look elsewhere.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Donna,
    Tenants can switch jobs while they’re renting and stay. Your new employer can vouch for your income as well, if need be. If you have any questions, please let us know.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Carlos Aguilar

    What if you have two qualified prospects, but the one that saw it last offers more rent? Does the initial prospect get a chance to match it?

    • Kasia Manolas

      Hi Carlos,
      Yes, you can certainly give them the chance to match it. I recommend letting the first tenant know that someone has offered more money and then you can go from there. They might not be interested in paying more.
      Best,
      Kasia

      • Carlos Aguilar

        Thanks! They wouldn’t match it, so no problem.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi,
    You can reject on a tenant on the basis that he or she did not follow up reasonably. If you suspect you will not work well together, then you can say no.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Sheba,
    You can simply say that it didn’t appear you would work well together because of the times you were contacted. Your criteria for renting to tenatns should be that they’re responsible and respectful. If that didn’t appear to be true based on their actions (texting you late at night) then it’s not discriminatory to decline their application.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Kandy,

    Does she want her deposit back even though she is still moving in? Tenants only get their deposit back once the lease is up and there has been no damage to the property. If she’s not moving in at all, then she’s breaking her lease. Did you sign a lease with her?

    You can likely find a new tenant if she’s not moving in. It might be worth returning her deposit and finding someone new. In the future, you should always sign a lease and make sure to get agreements in writing, such as the move-in date being the third.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Valerie,

    Yes, you can accept the better offer. If you have any questions, please let us know.
    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    You’re welcome, I’m so glad you found it helpful!

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Bea,

    That’s a great question and I’m not 100 percent sure. I would assume you do not have to count it as income because it is assisted-income. However, you may want to follow up with a landlord-tenant lawyer to be sure. You can read more about reasons to accept/deny tenants in this article:

    https://www.rentalutions.com/education/articles/15-legal-reasons-to-deny-a-tenant/

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Karen,

    Technically if you only received a notice and then moved out, then that is not a formal eviction. Your prior landlord can explain that a notice was provided and rent was late. If you’re asked if rent was ever past due, then you should reply “yes.”

    Please let us know if you have any questions.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Alex,

    The landlord can revoke the decision at any time before the actual lease is signed. It sounds like you signed a lease, in which case, the landlord can’t back out of a legal agreement. You can consult a landlord-tenant lawyer in your area to find out how to fight back on it.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Anthony,

    Were the 80 dollars fees for applying? At the time you apply, the only money that should be exchanged should be for the application. Beyond that, no money should be exchanged until there is a signed lease. At the point of applying, there is no gaurantee that the landlord will rent to you. Even after a landlord says “yes,” they can still back out of it before the lease is signed. It’s reasonable for landlords to have 3 applications and take time to decide (likely just a few days).

    I recommend following up with the landlord and asking when you’ll know a decision by. In the meantime, you can look at other properties to see if there are other options you like. One of the benefits of applying with Rentalutions is you can apply to multiple properties at no extra cost. You pay $45 once and you can apply to an infinite amount of properties.

    Please let us know if you have any follow-up questions.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    You’re welcome!

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Jacqueline,

    I’m so sorry for this happening. Unfortunately, landlords can back out of leases if it’s before the move-in date. Are they returning your deposit and rent? They should if they haven’t already.

    Please let us know if you have any questions.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Robert,

    Yes, you can do that. I recommend letting that first tenant know that you are not accepting their deposit and you’ll be sending it back. That way, the tenant can look for other housing. Please let us know if you have any questions.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • LilyF

    Hi, this has happened to us twice now, so it’s not a coincidence. We fill out the application, credit/background checks are fine, everything is a go. All we need now is a copy of your driver’s licenses. I send mine, everything good, the lease is waiting, I send my husband’s the next day and…nothing. Oh, by the way, my husband is black. Any thoughts? Thank you.

    • Kasia Manolas

      Hi Lily,

      It’s possible it’s discrimination. You can check out our article on rental housing discrimination here:

      https://www.rentalutions.com/education/articles/what-is-rental-housing-discrimination/

      You may want to just keep looking, or pursue further legal action if you see fit. You would start by contacting a landlord-tenant lawyer in your location. Please let us know if you have any questions.

      Best,
      Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Jody,

    Yes, you can reject an applicant based on what a reference tells you, if you’ve heard about prior evictions:

    https://www.rentalutions.com/education/articles/15-legal-reasons-to-deny-a-tenant

    Please let us know if you have any other questions.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Brittany,

    Yes, that is reasonable to reject a tenant because of their pets. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

    https://www.rentalutions.com/education/articles/15-legal-reasons-to-deny-a-tenant

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Romero’s Incometax

    What if they keep calling but we are not ready yet to make our decision.. I feel pressure

    • Kasia Manolas

      Hi,

      You can let them know when you’ll contact them with your decision so you have more time. Depending on how soon the move-in date is, you can allow for a few days – a week.

      Best,
      Kasia

  • Raquel

    Can I reject an application if they are jobless but claim they received a large settlement and have sufficient savings? I would rather rent to someone with a steady income.

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Dave,

    You can reject tenants based on the fact that they don’t have rental, employment, or credit history. You’re not required to have a guarantor, that’s just an option you can have if you feel more comfortable renting to someone with a guarantor. You can decline to consider a guarantor and reject the application if you prefer. Please let us know if you have any questions.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Ezetta,

    Typically anyone living in the unit has to be on the written lease. If you weren’t on the lease and you were living there, then that can be construed as your husband being in breach of contract. You can also follow up with a landlord-tenant lawyer to see if there’s anything you can do.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Relly,

    Landlords are allowed to negotiate the price with you, but it should be a fair rent price. You can know if a price is fair by comparing its price to similar units in that location. If the landlord raised the price, you may want to ask why and whether he or she is interested in renting to you at a certain price.

    Please let us know if you have any other questions.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Renfai,

    You don’t have to specify why you’re rejecting them- you can let them know that you will be going with another candidate. If they inquire further, then you should be more specific as to why you rejected the application. You would probably want to let them know at that point (if they ask) whose credit score ended up being the issue. However, it sounds like it was potentially both of their scores.

    Please let us know if you have any questions.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Please see the reply right below. If you still have any questions, feel free to let us know!

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi,

    Most state laws don’t allow landlords to retaliate against their tenants. Filing an eviction can be a retaliatory act if it happens within a certain time period from legal action (in this case reporting him to CPS). I recommend reaching out to a landlord-tenant lawyer to help you. He or she will be able to provide specific legal advice for your location and situation.

    Please let us know if you have any questions.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi,

    Landlords don’t have to disclose why they’re saying no unless it’s related to your credit score. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a landlord is obligated to tell you if he or she is taking an adverse action (i.e. rejecting you) due to your score.

    Some landlords are open to having co-signers, but it’s possible he or she rejected your application because you would need a co-signer. You can reach out and ask, but it’s possible he or she may not disclose the reason.

    Please let us know if you have any questions!

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Ann,

    No worries, you can read my reply here:

    Landlords don’t have to disclose why they’re saying no unless it’s related to your credit score. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a landlord is obligated to tell you if he or she is taking an adverse action (i.e. rejecting you) due to your score.

    Some landlords are open to having co-signers, but it’s possible for a landlord to reject an application because the tenant needs a co-signer. You can reach out and ask your landlord, but it’s possible he or she may not disclose the reason.

    Please let me know if you have any questions!

    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Art,

    Under Fair Housing Laws, landlords are not allowed to reject applicants due to a disability. They are allowed to say no if they didn’t hear back from one of your references. But they shouldn’t be asking for a reference from your therapist- they should only be asking for employment references and prior landlord references.

    You can consult with a landlord-tenant lawyer to learn more about your rights, especially in the case that you are rejected due to a disability.

    Please let us know if you have any other questions.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Willie,

    It’s possible the landlord could be saying no due to occupancy laws, especially if it’s a studio apartment. However, you’re right that Fair Housing Laws requires that landlords don’t reject applicants on the basis of whether they’re married or not. I recommend consulting with a landlord-tenant lawyer to learn more about what can be done.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Great, glad to help!

  • Nicole

    I filled out a application for a rental property in July and was approved at that point we gave the deposit to hold the spot and signed a contract with Oct 1st (the orginal move in date) being the move in date and date to have the 1st and last month rent. We were told it would take a month and a half before the rental was ready and we were fine with that. However if been a month over the deadline for the property to be ready. However we have still been in contact with the,owner who has been updating us on the progress. Today we were to sign the lease and get keys and the owner backs out on the deal stating he can’t get insurance on the house due to the back porch steps needing to be fixed. We stated we would take the costs for that then he stated that it was too many people that would be living there. The owner has known since July that we are a family of 5 nothing has changed. The house is a 3 bedroom to 2 bath dwelling. I know myself that legally it is 2 ppl per bedroom. It is November 4 months since he has had our deposit and we have been wanting on this place. We are now in between homes with basically no where to go. He stated that he would give back the deposit whicheck in my mind is the least he could do. I know in my heart he is looking for excuses not to rent from us. Do I have a case or is there anything we can do to fix this situation for our family. Please help.

    • Kasia Manolas

      Hi Nicole,

      I recommend reaching out to a landlord-tenant lawyer in your area. He or she will be able to provide better assistance for your situation, given the local laws. Typically, landlords cannot sign out of a signed lease when both parties have signed. However, it sounds like you hadn’t entered a lease agreement yet. We recommend only paying a deposit or rent until after you’ve both signed a lease.

      Best,
      Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Shauna,

    It’s possible they have an income requirement and don’t want to allow co-signers. You could ask in the future if they’re open to having a co-signer and have a parent, etc co-sign the lease with you.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi,

    Usually, anyone living in the unit must be on the lease. I recommend speaking with your landlord about adjusting the lease so he’s on it.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Mike,

    I’m not sure, although it’s possible it’s discrimination. I recommend reaching out to a landlord-tenant lawyer in your area to delve into the specifics of this case with him or her.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Kasia Manolas

    Hi Luz,

    Checking employment history normally occurs during the application stage, and not after signing a lease and paying rent. Have you asked your landlord about it yet?

    Most likely your landlord will check and feel assured. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

    Best,
    Kasia

  • Amande Hopkins

    My uncle bought a trailer off his cousin for my son and me. I had to fill out an application for the lot rental, the lady said she more than likely wouldn’t rent because she couldn’t get enough info on me but my references and last place I rented from all gave good reports, she then said her contacts couldn’t get anything on me either isn’t she crossing a line here?

    • Kasia Manolas

      Hi Amande,

      She’s allowed to run a background check and follow up with references. It’s also ultimately her decision whether she rents to you or not. If you suspect she’s saying no to you for a discriminatory reason (gender, age, race, nationality, etc) then that would be illegal.

      You can read more about Fair Housing Laws here:

      https://www.rentalutions.com/education/guides/fair-housing-laws

      Best,
      Kasia