Author Topic: Question for the landlords: How do I show I am a good/relaible tenant?  (Read 4428 times)

lhamo

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Having just read the "should I rent to this guy" thread and after having spent several weeks looking at apartment ads, I'm getting a bit worried that some landlords might not be willing to rent to me because I don't have/don't intend to get a job in Seattle.

Summary of my situation:

1)  Family income -- DH's takehome is currently about $5600/month, will go down a bit when we switch to insurance through his employer.  He is paid by direct deposit into our local Seattle credit union account, where I have had accounts since around 1987.  He will be remaining in/be working from China, though.  I probably won't be able to have him sign the lease because he will only be visiting for a short period in late July/early August.

2)  Liquid savings --

A)  By the time we are renting I should have at least $30k in our US checking accounts.  I could bump that up by making ATM withdrawals from our China accounts and redepositing the cash in the US, but am a little worried about what that might look like. 

B)  I could also cash in up to 40k in Ibonds if necessary, but would prefer not to do that this year as I would have to pay tax on the interest

C)  We have close to 20k in individual stocks/money market funds that we could cash in, but again I'd prefer not to for tax reasons

D)  We also have close to $100k in our China savings accounts, but I'm guessing a US landlord isn't going to consider that in their evaluation of our case.

3)  Other assets --

A)  A very highly valued apartment in China, with record of timely mortgage payments.  But guessing it is better not to mention that as the mortgage is a liability (even though at this point it is an investment because our out of pocket payment is going straight to principal)

B)  Retirement and college savings worth roughly 1.25 million.  About 180k of that is Roth IRA/403b contributions that we can access at any time without penalty

I am willing to provide documentation of our assets, including account statements, paystubs, and tax records upon request.

4)  Credit score -- probably high 700s (Capitol One estimate was 780 something)

So, my questions:

1)  What supporting documents do you typically require from a prospective tenant, especially one without a regular job?
2)  Would you rent to someone like me?  If not, why not?  Is there anything I can do in advance to make it more likely you would consider renting to me?


babysteps

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a few ideas...

Expect that some landlords may not be able to wrap their brains about an FI renter, if so, move on ;)

Explain that you are financially independent and have plenty of assets and passive income - do this before even looking at the unit, so you don't waste your time (or theirs).

Either supply asset statements or...offer to pay most/all of the first year's rent ahead (or at least send to the landlord's lawyer to hold in escrow and pay out, in case they want to avoid lumpy income flow)

Get/offer recommendations from prior landlord(s) and take pictures of your current abode to show you follow standard/above standard housekeeping practices. You could offer personal recommendations, but that might be over the top.

Another Reader

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You have income history for a long time for DH.  Have him apply with you for the property and be on the lease, even though he won't be living there.  A credit report and his paystubs should be enough.  With a good credit report, you would be moving in if I owned property up there.  My problem is with someone that won't document their income.  That's a big question mark in my book.

CheapskateWife

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+ 1 on the letter from prior land lords if you have that available...

Also, being able to post first and last month's rent in addition to a security deposit might ease concerns about whether or not you really were financially independent and didn't necessarily need "dependable income"

lhamo

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Thanks.

We haven't rented since 2009 and are no longer in contact with any of our previous landlords -- the ones for the period from 2003-2009 are all Chinese anyway, and could not furnish a reference in English even if we asked for it.  US/Seattle rental history ended in 1999 (we lived in employer provided housing when we first moved to NYC, and then bought our own place.  We do have local character references (our grad school advisor and grad school colleagues). 

I'm probably just going to offer to pay several months upfront if they are concerned about it, and putting DH on the lease is probably a good idea.  And I probably have to get used to the idea that a lot of places will say no straight up. 

It seems like most places in Seattle expect first+last+deposit (one month rent, typically) as a minimum, and when you are looking at places that cost $2-3k/month that is a big chunk of change already!  (I hope to find a place for less than that, but am budgeting on the high side just in case my choices are limited) But in a way it would be good to get the rental prepaid for several months and not have to pay for it. 

And at least I know my sister is ok with us hanging out with her for awhile until we get things locked down on the housing front. 

Oh, and obviously I will do a spell check of anything I send to a prospective landlord (relaible?  Really?  )

zephyr911

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Get a power of attorney to sign for your husband.

If your financials alone aren't enough for a landlord to accept you, they're an idiot.

zephyr911

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I'm sort of picky but I like to see evidence  a potential renter -
1) can afford the house and will continue to do so, e.g.
    stable job(s) with salaries which easily accommodate the rent (gross income 5x rent)
    great credit history and scores

2) will not tear the place apart. e.g.
     mature age (40 and up)
     no pets or kids
     large deposit
     sober jobs (Corp VP works nicely)

3) plans to stick around -
     few moves in past
     some reason for wanting to live in the house and stay
     no plans to buy in the area

Good luck!
Many of your criteria are violations of the Fair Housing Act.
(stated for the benefit of any would-be US landlords thinking about using them)

beltim

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I'm sort of picky but I like to see evidence  a potential renter -
1) can afford the house and will continue to do so, e.g.
    stable job(s) with salaries which easily accommodate the rent (gross income 5x rent)
    great credit history and scores

2) will not tear the place apart. e.g.
     mature age (40 and up)
     no pets or kids
     large deposit
     sober jobs (Corp VP works nicely)

3) plans to stick around -
     few moves in past
     some reason for wanting to live in the house and stay
     no plans to buy in the area

Good luck!

In the US it is quite illegal to use the bolded factors to discriminate among renters.

Edit: I'm glad I'm not the only one who pointed this out.  Cheers, zephyr!

Cathy

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I'm sort of picky but I like to see evidence  a potential renter -
1) can afford the house and will continue to do so, e.g.
    stable job(s) with salaries which easily accommodate the rent (gross income 5x rent)
    great credit history and scores

2) will not tear the place apart. e.g.
     mature age (40 and up)
     no pets or kids
     large deposit
     sober jobs (Corp VP works nicely)

3) plans to stick around -
     few moves in past
     some reason for wanting to live in the house and stay
     no plans to buy in the area

Good luck!

In the US it is quite illegal to use the bolded factors to discriminate among renters.

Edit: I'm glad I'm not the only one who pointed this out.  Cheers, zephyr!

"The US" is nebulous and might encompass a variety of federal, state, and local laws and regulations. However, if we restrict our analysis to the Fair Housing Act (codified at ch. 45 of 42 USC), it does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, but it does generally prohibit discrimination in various rental transactions on the basis of "familial status": 42 USC 3604. "Familial status" generally means children being domiciled with their parent or with an agent of their parent: 42 USC 3602(k).

However, the anti-discrimination rules contained in 42 USC 3604 are subject to an exception in 42 USC 3603(b)(1), which says that none of the rules in 42 USC 3604 (other than the prohibition on announcing a discriminatory preference) apply to a single-family home rented by "an owner" provided that the "private individual owner" does not own or have an interest in more than 3 single-family homes including an interest in receiving rents, and that the home is rented without using the rental facilities or services of "any person in the business of selling or renting dwellings". The exception appears rather complicated and you definitely should study it yourself before relying on it since this post does not attempt to state it precisely, but it is conceivable that it could cover SnackDog's rental operations, if they were in the US. He still wouldn't be allowed to announce his discriminatory preference for "no kids" though; he would have to keep it to himself.

As mentioned, the Fair Housing Act is not the only piece of legislation that governs discrimination in the US, so other laws may be more problematic for SnackDog.

Fishingmn

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Easy - have the landlord set up the lease signing using electronic signatures and then your husband can easily sign as well from anywhere in the world.

zephyr911

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Easy - have the landlord set up the lease signing using electronic signatures and then your husband can easily sign as well from anywhere in the world.
I can't believe I didn't think of that.
I DO THIS MYSELF and I didn't think of it. LMFAO!

Yeah, even with people who are in town it usually ends up being more convenient. DotLoop is a good platform designed specifically for real estate transactions. It's free too... there's a premium service level for $29/mo but I find it completely unnecessary even as a Realtor.

I met my latest inbound tenants one time in person (at the showing). I got their ID and proof of income by email and we signed the lease and other docs in DotLoop... won't see them until the next check arrives and we meet at the house with keys. Modern life is great.

zephyr911

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As mentioned, the Fair Housing Act is not the only piece of legislation that governs discrimination in the US, so other laws may be more problematic for SnackDog.
Craigslist also has a robust reporting mechanism for anything seen as discriminatory and even if you're not breaking FHA rules you may still find it hard to keep an ad up. Ditto for other ad venues.

Those were good points about the exceptions, btw. I occasionally forget about those.

kib

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I also have a feeling that the landlords on this forum may be more conservative / talking about a best case scenario they would like.  Personally, I do ask for proof of income, but I've been known to give the nod to people who seem to be stable even if they can't entirely prove it.  I can't say that's always worked out well for me, as a landlord I'm not recommending it to other landlords, but it has been a reality for some of my tenants and you might find it's the case, I'd test the waters before panicking.

jnc

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In my experience both as a renter, the most important factors are:
- salary/income
- credit report and credit score
- previous landlord references

I have never been asked to show balances of bank accounts or other assets so I don't think you can count on those.

I would definitely recommend having your husband on the lease! Also if you cannot get references, I would suggest putting together a nice bio about yourself / your family. It helps set you apart from the rest and shows you as a thoughtful and respectful person... I've seen it done in competitive markets such as San Francisco and it has helped us well when we rented once.

powskier

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Proof of salary or income. I have waived this when a tenant offered to pay a years rent upfront, he had just inherited some money.
References: prior landlords, bosses, etc
Based on everything you have stated you sound like a great potential tenant, however if you came off as "weird" in some way when seeing the rental it may be off putting ( not saying you are) just throwing out there that the "vibe" I get off of prospective tenants counts for a lot. Just be yourself and you should be considered great tenant material.

lhamo

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Proof of salary or income. I have waived this when a tenant offered to pay a years rent upfront, he had just inherited some money.
References: prior landlords, bosses, etc
Based on everything you have stated you sound like a great potential tenant, however if you came off as "weird" in some way when seeing the rental it may be off putting ( not saying you are) just throwing out there that the "vibe" I get off of prospective tenants counts for a lot. Just be yourself and you should be considered great tenant material.

Just posting an update to say that all my concerns turned out to be for naught.  When I explained my employment situation to landlords/managers they were all very understanding and didn't seem to have any issue with it.  Of course, I deliberately didn't go to see apartments where they clearly stated that they wanted hard proof of income 3x the rent, etc.  Figured if they were that hardass in an ad, I didn't want to bother.  Most of the owners I spoke with were actually pretty cool, and the woman I finally ended up renting from was happy to go with references only.  And I think you are right about the vibe thing -- I think most of the people I met with recognized pretty quickly that I would be the kind of stable, low maintenance tenant that they wanted.