A tenant recently inquired for one of my rentals. I always do on-line advertising so most of the inquiries are via email. If they call directly, I get their email address texted to me, so I can email them my standard response. As I have posted before, I typically send out a canned response so that prospects can understand what I am looking for in a tenant, and they can also get a better understanding of the layout of the apartment(s).
A link to a video tour is also included, which I have received a lot of unsolicited compliments on. I just walk around the apartment narrating the video. Nothing fancy, no high tech camera. But it works.
Here is how one applicant inquiry went, from a tenant I declined.
In this case, the tenant called me first. She explained that her husband had a stroke, and had been out of work. He was only 29. It was sort of a sob story, but you must maintain solid, consistent criteria to protect yourself from risk, and fair housing issues. Her rent was going to be paid by a rental subsidy program for the next two years. She also asked if I would accept that kind of subsidy payment.
She said the social worker would call me. Keep in mind, I had not yet even offered her the apartment or agreed to anything. I had her text me her email address and I responded via email.
The Initial Response
My typical response is a lot longer than this, this is an excerpt, but it lays out the minimum quality of tenant I am looking for. Keep in mind, the average tenant score nationwide is about 658. This mirrors the average credit score in the complex that I screen for. Minnesota also has one of the highest average credit scores in the nation, so we should have a higher tenant average.
I will be looking for tenants with a 625+ credit score, and a solid household income of at least ~$45,000 per year. If you are marginal on both of these items, I will generally decline you. Your criminal and rental history must be clean. If you have had a foreclosure, I can work with you a bit on this.
If you have had an eviction, or you have had recent criminal activity including DUIs, I generally will pass on you.
After the prospect received this, she replied
“I am still very interested in the property. “
I already had a showing that day for the property, and I cannot verify credit other than a verbal confirmation from the tenant without a signed application. If they say they are OK, I am OK (for now…). The showing would be short notice, but since I had the time slot with the tenant already setup, I offered it to her.
So I replied, via email the following. “I can show it today, ~12:45. Does that work?”
She replied to that email after the showing time this response.
“Hello, sorry I missed your email. Can we reschedule? Or another day? “
I did a quick lookup of her records on MNCIS, the Minnesota Court System search, and decided I should pass. I did not return the email. I received this email after another day.
Judging from the pictures, the condo is beautiful so I’m very excited about it. I know you might be reluctant about accepting a subsidy, but it is only temporary and we are hardworking people.”
I replied to her, “What are your credit scores like?”
Tenant Goes Downhill
We are both in the 570’s range .. With our subsidy we get we will be working on our credit.. It’s all from when I was young and 18. Also I have school loans that qualify to come off my credit.. That’s why mine went lower.. My recent credit activity is good I’ve been paying on my car note consistently.
I really do not care where your money is coming from, as long as you will behave in the rentals. Credit score is a great indication of how you will behave. She said her and her husband’s credit score(s) were around 570. That is far too low for me, and would not even be approved for our association criteria.
I replied, “570 is pretty low, I am not interested”
She then responded, “Ok thank you “.
I next received a call from the social worker. The worker said they have been having a difficult time, and had low credit. They also have some evictions. And who knows how many times that they have been asked to leave. The score the social worker was shown on the credit reports that she had were in the 520s range. That is way too low. Only about 5% of the population has scores that low. There is definitely a high probability of behavioral issues when you get to that level.
Again, another last chance effort from the tenant.
Persistence Does’t Always Pay Off
“Good afternoon, I am sorry to bother you again, but our credit score is not from being irresponsible. My husband had a really good job making 1,000 dollars a week we were working with a credit solutions worker to build our credit and dispute matters on our credit that shouldn’t be there. Then my husband had a stroke. We need a chance, and I am embarrassed to pour my heart out to a perfect stranger but The bible says that close mouths don’t get fed. If you still are not willing I understand and thank you for your time. I am just asking a second chance for my family’s sake. “
I did not respond any further.
The rejected tenant was 28 years old, her husband was age 29. I looked for public information to see just how much she might have been hiding, or perhaps not volunteering information. Here is what I found.
Rental History (both names that wanted to apply were on all evictions)
01/2015 – Eviction
06/2013 – Eviction
05/2011 – Judgment by Credit Company ($6,332.70)
11/2007 – Eviction
Criminal Record (Hers)
07/2006 – Expired registration
03/2008 – Traffic Regulation – Driver Must Carry Proof of Insurance when Operating Vehicle
12/2003 – ORD-TRAF-NO PARKING 2AM TO 6AM (9-1-3K)
Criminal Record (His)
09/2004 – DRUG PARAPH MV DRIVER (Dismissed), No Insurance Own/Operate (Guilty), Instruction Permit Violation (Dismissed)
10/2004 – Consumption by Minor (Guilty)
03/2005 – POSS DRUG PARAPHERNALIA (guilty)
01/2008 – Driver’s License-Driving After Suspension (Guilty), Traffic Accidents – Driver Involved Fails to Stop for Accident to Property (guilty)
11/2010 – Traffic-Driver’s License-Driving after Revocation (Guilty)
10/2011 – DL-DRIVE AFTER REVOCATION (DAR) (Guilty)
I read into these reports that they likely do not have insurance now, after all, they have nothing to lose. If they do not abide by the law, will they abide by my lease? If I threaten to evict them, will they be afraid of an eviction on their record? Will they be worried about a judgment from me that will hurt their credit score?
Often, the cause of a person’s problems can be found when they look into the mirror.
WOW, another bullet dodged. It was an easy decline, and easy to find this information. Some landlord will rent to them, and eventually get burned.
Are you prepared to move to the next tenant, even if rent is guaranteed? Are you prepared to take a risk risk tenant, just for the money? Would you have taken this tenant?