Written by David Lowrey, Owner of Stress Free Property Management
As an Apollo Beach Property Management company, we see dozens of rental applications every month and have processed thousands in our career. I’m always looking for patterns to help me weed out applications and choose the best possible tenant.
As I always tell potential clients, as an Apollo Beach property manager, we know that the bad, nightmare tenants don’t suddenly wake up one day and become those people. They’ve been behaving irresponsibly in every aspect of their lives for a very long time. Doing proper background checks and carefully interpreting what you see is extremely important.
As part of my rental criteria, I require at least 2 years of rental history. What I often find is people submitting rental verification information stating their parents or extended family are their landlords.
This is not a good landlord reference. I know one can easily argue that...the person is renting from these family members. This is true. The problem is do you really think the landlord will give you an honest assessment of how good their family member behaved as a tenant? No, not a chance.
People are people and family is going to protect family. I’ve literally seen family member let other family members rent a property at a deep discount and still not get paid. These landlords often will not evict the family member for non-payment or not taking care of property because the relationship is more important in their minds.
In other words, you really can’t use landlord references from family. As long as you apply this criteria to all applicants, you are not violating Fair Housing Laws.
If you hear things like I don’t remember previous landlord information prior to renting from family, that is not your problem. The applicant needs to find that information or rent something else.
The best indication of how a new tenant will pay and treat your home is based on how they did in previous rentals. Family members don’t count.
A big key is do not get in arguments about this over the phone. Just refund them their application fees and don’t do background checks, if you can clearly see they don’t qualify by looking at the rental application. If you want, you can email me them requesting other landlord references, but the key is don’t talk to them on the phone, because it will turn into a big argument, and your likely to give in.
You’ll see this sort of thing a lot with folks just getting out on their own. And sure, everybody deserves a chance, but I would not apply that sentiment to landlording. New renters with no rental history other than family are a huge risk. Let these people season with other landlords who don’t know any better.
The bottom line is you need written criteria for rental applicants. You need to treat all applicants against the identical rules to rent a specific property. You can have different rules for different properties, as long as you apply them consistently, and you are not discriminating. Hopefully after reading this article you give some thought to not considering landlord references from family as actual rental history. You might occasionally miss out on a great tenant, but you’ll avoid a lot more headaches by sticking to this rule.