Author Topic: Rant: idiot applicants  (Read 6602 times)

Beaker

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Rant: idiot applicants
« on: May 05, 2016, 02:14:24 PM »
We have pretty straightforward financial requirements for tenants: monthly income 3x rent, credit score >= 600, no bankruptcies or evictions. I put it in the ads, I tell people about it at showings, I put it in emails when people ask about the property. Despite that, I still get applicants who plainly do not qualify going through the whole process.

Last re-rent, a couple with a kid came in. They made about $55k/yr between them, but he said they didn't hit the credit score. I told him I could work with scores that were a little lower if didn't have any bankruptcies or current delinquencies and were otherwise solid. I also made a point of telling him that he's paying for the credit check, and there are no refunds. So he puts in an application, puts down "no bankruptcies" where it asks, and pays for the credit/background check.

Of course I wouldn't be talking about him if it was good. Turns out he ran 3 accounts into collections in 2012, declared bankruptcy in 2013, and has since run 3 more accounts into collections. She has $20k of credit card debt, and an auto loan that's 60 days late. Their credit scores are in the mid-400's. So their credit is more than "a little" bad, and he lied about the bankruptcy both to my face and in writing.

Naturally I tell him this is not going to work. He actually emails me back and says that I'm making a mistake, they both have good jobs and would never miss rent. Of course they had those same jobs for years before he declared bankruptcy, and he made the same promise to all those accounts that are in collections, but never mind that.

That was the most egregious case, but I've had other people apply with sub-500 credit scores and multiple accounts 90-days delinquent, student loan payments more than their claimed income, and on and on. It just blows my mind that these people pony up for the credit check when they have to have some idea what it says.

Does this kind of thing happen to everyone else, or do I just have "big softie" written on my forehead?
« Last Edit: May 12, 2016, 07:51:46 AM by Beaker »

fishnfool

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2016, 04:29:08 PM »
It sure pays to check things out and never take anyone on their word. On to the next applicant....ugh!

Bobberth

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2016, 03:17:09 PM »
I've been getting some good stories lately trying to fill a vacancy that opened up mid-month:

Guy comes in with his mom and they love the house. They have a complicated story, which I'm always leery of but I tell them I will give them a chance and look things over. They pay the $100 application fee. Fortunately for them, Missouri has a great website with all court records from 1980-on so I find out for free that the parents have been evicted 6 times. So I call him up and tell him he can come pick up his money because I'm not going to rent to them. He says the words, but with no meaning behind them, "I haven't lived with them for years so I had no idea". Yea right. He's lucky I'm a good guy and gave him his money back.

Last night a lady comes in with her mom and even before they view the entire house they are asking about occupancy load and pause when I tell them 5. Then they are hemming and hawing about paying the $100 application fee (company charges $50 per adult or married couple). The mom decides that they will apply and pay the money. They fill out the application and leave before I look at it. Even though I went through my standard spiel of needing 3x the rent in income, they paid $100 for an application fee on a $825 rental with $1500/month income. I can't even believe they would be looking at paying that in rent. They probably can afford it with how many other people they are hoping to move in with them. Either that or they're not planning on paying for long. I'm going to call her Monday and tell her to come pick up her money.

Another lady comes in with two others to view the house. They are talking about what different rooms are going to be used for. They seem nice. She comes back and turns in her application later that night. On the application she says she is going to be the only one living there. That's odd considering their conversations while looking at the house. She also has an out of state DL. Hmmm. Won't be able to run casenet on her. I send her application in. She left TN in November leaving behind a $400 electric bill. Her credit report didn't list her MO address. I drove by her address as it's between two of my properties and it's a nice looking house in a nice area at similar rent. Somehow had a good landlord reference but looking for a place after less than 6 months in town. I think I'm going to pass on her. It just doesn't feel right.

A lady comes in with her daughter and applies. It's going to be the two of them. Their story was their last place had a fire and they were living in a motel and needed a permanent place to live. I priced the house too low and was inundated with applications. I didn't pick her. When I called her to come get her application fee back, she tells me she can't make it but her fiancee will come pick it up. Weird, he wasn't mentioned previously. Then he shows up and says he's her husband. Interesting. Three weeks later, the person I approved for the rental backs out and I list the property again. She calls me saying she is still interested as she is still living in a motel. I politely tell her when my open house is scheduled and she is welcome to come fill out the application again knowing she will never be approved after the previous stories. She has to work and can't make it that night and wants to set up a special time. Nope. I can't and won't do it. She then tries to guilt me about how I would be missing out on a great renter. I was polite but ended up hanging up on her.

April 30 I receive a Zillow inquiry about my rental stating that they need a place to live by May 1. Delete.

Phone call on Monday, "How soon can I move in? I need a place by Thursday.", Me: "Thursday is May 5. Are you planning on skipping out on May's rent?" CLICK

One time a family applied for one of my houses. I sent the application in and the credit report came back with 8 different addresses during a time period they listed only 2 so I called and asked about the discrepancy. WOW! That unleashed a 5 minute flood of "This landlord", "That landlord", BLAH BLAH BLAH "Our current place has bedbugs".... I told her that I wouldn't be able to rent to them based on the discrepancy (and I don't want bedbugs in my property!). While showing this house I was mentioning to lookers that I also owned the house across the street and it would be ready to rent in a month or so. The lady called me back after I listed that other house about 6 weeks later asking if they could rent that house as I already ran their background check. On the phone I didn't remember her and let her know that I only send one application in at a time so if I ran her application and she wasn't living in the house right now, she was not approved and wouldn't be approved for this house either. She got huffy with me but oh well. Only later when I looked at the old application did I put it together who she was. Weird that they weren't able to find a place to live in all that time....

With the previously approved tenant backing out mid-month, I ended up posting the rental again on April 18. That first week of showing was rough with nothing but crappy potential tenants as every decent tenant looking for a place May 1 had already found a place leaving the bottom of the barrel. Then after a week and we got to the end of April/beginning of May the quality has picked up.

I get lots of calls of people asking if this is my place or if I work for a leasing agency. As soon as I tell them it is my place their voice lights up. Then as I tell them the requirements their excitement wanes and they hang up on me. I presume they are in search for a landlord that they can sweet talk their way into a property instead of doing a background check. Whatever it is, hangups and no-shows save me a lot of time and prove my screening process is working.





galliver

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2016, 03:55:31 PM »
I don't think they're being idiots; but people with low incomes, delinquent accounts, bankruptcies, and arrest/prison records need places to live, too. In the absence of places they actually qualify for, I expect they are applying to every place they can find, hoping the landlord will be desperate to fill the place or not do their homework. You aren't required to rent to them, and it's understandable if you're frustrated at your time being wasted, and it does you credit that you return their application fees. But I think you're wrong to assume they are doing this because they are stupid and don't realize they don't measure up. They probably just don't have any more likely alternatives.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2016, 04:15:47 PM »
I'm not a landlord - just a CPA. But my clients lie to me, too.

Worst one:

I helped a guy amend three years' worth of returns. The refunds amounted to over $6,000.

Every single cent of it gets seized by the Bureau of Fiscal Services. I tell him, there are three things that tax refunds gets seized for: unpaid child support, unpaid taxes, and delinquent student loans.

He swears there must be some mistake. He doesn't have any of that! It must be identity theft! And he's out of the country! Please, please, please can I help him? So I get a power of attorney and I start running it down. They tell me it was seized for delinquent student loans. They give me the loan servicer, date, amount of the loan, etc.

I call him and tell him about it. I tell him if someone has stolen his identity, this is as far as I can take it, he needs to dispute it from here. His reaction?

"Oh. THAT loan. But I made a payment agreement on THAT loan."

So... you do have a delinquent student loan?

But it didn't end there. He demanded I do something to get his money back. When I said there was nothing I could do, he told me that he was firing me so he could find a CPA who was an expert of retrieving seized refunds.

He never did pay my final bill. Sometimes I send him reminders just for fun - even though I know he'll never pay.

I learned my lesson. I don't put myself out to help people who have their refunds seized. I've had two since then, and neither of those people paid their bills to me either. They act like it's my fault their child support is delinquent.

Jim2001

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2016, 02:49:42 PM »
.... I told him I could work with scores that were a little lower if didn't have any bankruptcies or current delinquencies and were otherwise solid...

Be very careful not following your own written standards.  If someone decides that you said "no" to them based on the fact that they fall into a protected class and they can show that you don't actually follow your own written standards, you may lose a discrimination case.

RavensBrew

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2016, 10:35:03 PM »
This was very frustrating to read. I'm going to be a landlord in 6 months or so and am worried about some of these situations. Fortunately my rental is in a highly desirable and expensive neighborhood so I'm hoping to not have too much trouble. I also see where galliver is coming from as I have been a low income person looking for a place to live. Of course, I never lied or had any bankruptcies and so on.

I'm downsizing my life right now including giving a bunch of stuff away on the Craigslist free section. The demographics of people that use the free section blow my mind. People have demands such like if I can deliver, could  throw in some other stuff and many times just not showing up at the specified time. Who are these people? I had a bunch of firewood I was trying to get rid of (for free) from I large tree I had removed. The guy promised me he would take it all as that was the deal. I get home from work and all that is left is the large rounds from the base of the tree. The guy never answered his phone, responded to my emails or came and got the more difficult pieces of wood. I don't believe in hell but if I did. (that's a little harsh but I just do not get people like this.)

Drifterrider

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2016, 07:54:15 AM »
The above cited cases are most likely why agencies charge an "application fee".

The first time I rented an apartment I was told of this fee.  Being me, I was walking out the door when I told them I wasn't going to pay a fee to be "allowed" to pay rent.

The nice lady at the office, probably not having too many applicants showing up in a suit, explained the fee was to cover the cost of all those who wasted the company's time applying for an apartment they would never be accepted for.  She then said if I was accepted (as in, I told the truth, wasn't a deadbeat and could actually afford the rent, this fee would be credited towards my first month's rent).  AND, they were having a move in special.  Sign a one year lease, get the 12th month's rent free.

If people are going to spend their money wasting your time, keep the money.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2016, 03:39:35 PM »
I don't think they are idiot applicants. You said that you bent the rules on the credit score. I think it would be reasonable to assume that you might bend the rules on other things as well.

Don't let it make you upset. It's all part of the process.

I calmly tell all applicants to provide documentation for everything. If they start giving me a sob story, I politely cut them off and don't let them finish. Once scammers realize they are wasting their own time, they leave as quick as the they can and move on to the next one.

Beaker

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2016, 10:11:05 AM »
Be very careful not following your own written standards.  If someone decides that you said "no" to them based on the fact that they fall into a protected class and they can show that you don't actually follow your own written standards, you may lose a discrimination case.
You're right, I should not have done that. Thanks for the reminder.

I don't think they are idiot applicants. You said that you bent the rules on the credit score. I think it would be reasonable to assume that you might bend the rules on other things as well.
Also a reasonable point. Although I tried to be very clear that I would not be bending bankruptcy rules, I could see how someone would read it that way. And it's a bad idea for other reasons, so no more of that.

I don't think they're being idiots; but people with low incomes, delinquent accounts, bankruptcies, and arrest/prison records need places to live, too.
And that's why I was doing it. The rental market around here has been absolutely nuts for the last few years, which is fantastic for landlords but really hard on renters. So I try to be understanding and help people out. Unfortunately my experience seems to be that no good deed goes unpunished. Live and learn.

The above cited cases are most likely why agencies charge an "application fee".
...
If people are going to spend their money wasting your time, keep the money.
I don't currently charge an application fee, but I might start doing it.

I don't put myself out to help people who have their refunds seized. I've had two since then, and neither of those people paid their bills to me either.
What a pain. I guess it makes sense though - if they stiff other people they'll probably stiff you too.

Dicey

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2016, 03:36:36 PM »
Just chiming it to say how much I'm enjoying this thread, Beaker. You sound like a good landlord.

galliver

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2016, 04:05:15 PM »
I don't think they're being idiots; but people with low incomes, delinquent accounts, bankruptcies, and arrest/prison records need places to live, too.
And that's why I was doing it. The rental market around here has been absolutely nuts for the last few years, which is fantastic for landlords but really hard on renters. So I try to be understanding and help people out. Unfortunately my experience seems to be that no good deed goes unpunished. Live and learn.

Yeah, there's a not-so-fine line between being helpful and putting your assets on the line :/ While we'd like to think that people can change/improve after making life mistakes, without a proven track record it's all risk. It would be kind of...stupid, really, to take it on. I've been fortunate enough to never be in that situation, but I realize there's a catch 22 there.

sheepstache

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2016, 05:26:15 PM »
I've been getting some good stories lately trying to fill a vacancy that opened up mid-month:


Those were really interesting and useful, thanks.

Kaybee

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2016, 08:51:23 PM »
Chiming in to say that my old side gig (before I moved across the country) was real estate.  I rarely dealt with leases because of all the above stories but I took care of one as a favour to a client.  When showing the home to some prospective tenants (a family of 6 with Grandma coming along to give advice), I explained the rental requirements.  They gave a questioning look when I said we would be looking into their credit history.  I didn't want to ping them if it was going to be a waste of time so again, I confirmed that we did a credit check and that they needed to give permission.  The parents looked at each other, then asked if I could wait until the next day to run the check.  It was late in the evening and I assured them that after this showing, my day was done so I'd be dealing with their application the next day.  They seemed relieved and cheerfully agreed, filling out the other required application documents.

Well, sure enough, when I pull their credit, its just an absolute mess.  I'm not sure of other jurisdictions, but where I was working, if you refused someone's application because of their credit they had a right to be told that was why.  I called them to tell them we were unable to rent to them due to their credit check and the mother seemed shocked, saying "Well, maybe they haven't received our payment yet.  We didn't have much on our card and we sent the payment in last night after we got home."  They didn't seem to understand that their credit check/credit history was a credit HISTORY.  They had legitimately thought that by paying off the one outstanding balance they had at that time, the check would come back clean. 

Maybe they were lying but they seemed pretty sincerely shocked when I explained that the credit history showed all the cards and payments they had ever missed.  Some people apply out of desperation, some apply because they don't actually think you'll check their history and apparently, some people are just completely financially illiterate and don't understand how their past decisions haunt them.  I grew up in a middle class home and I was never taught any kind of financial skills so its not that is a demographics thing...I literally learned how to manage money from websites like MMM while in university.

Jim2001

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2016, 11:10:07 AM »
Beaker,

  Great thread, thanks for starting it.  I'm a big fan of non-refundable application fees and really pulling credit.  I also agree with you that there is a human side to helping folks "down on their luck" who truly need a place to live.  All that said, I used to work at a BIG company (think tens of millions of repeat, monthly subscription customers) and was involved with a project to track lifetime value, from credit report prior to the sale, through years of service.  It's amazing how accurately credit history predicts future payment behavior.  It's not 100%, but it's in the 80-90% range. If a consumer has been late with multiple previous creditors, the behavior will continue...

rachael talcott

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2016, 06:35:47 AM »
I can understand that the working poor struggle to make ends meet, and have considered branching out into lower-rent properties to supply a place to live for lower-income people -- maybe $500/mo for a small house.  I would still require decent credit, though.   Some percentage of low credit score people would be able to pay the rent, but statistically many would have to be evicted, and high turnover plus legal fees would add to the cost of the property, making low rent impossible.  I would rather provide low-cost housing to people who are stable enough to actually afford the low rent. 

Neustache

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2016, 07:47:43 AM »
I can understand that the working poor struggle to make ends meet, and have considered branching out into lower-rent properties to supply a place to live for lower-income people -- maybe $500/mo for a small house.  I would still require decent credit, though.   Some percentage of low credit score people would be able to pay the rent, but statistically many would have to be evicted, and high turnover plus legal fees would add to the cost of the property, making low rent impossible.  I would rather provide low-cost housing to people who are stable enough to actually afford the low rent.

I've thought a bit about this, and I think starting a non-profit to provide housing for those with kids would be something I'm interested in doing someday.  Something where the rent is subsidized, there's a financial program they have to complete, job skills training, etc.  I think our city already has something currently, but it's downtown not close to our suburb.  I see people moving all the time either due to evictions or chasing lower rents, and it's hard on the kids. 

rachael talcott

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2016, 06:58:50 AM »
I can understand that the working poor struggle to make ends meet, and have considered branching out into lower-rent properties to supply a place to live for lower-income people -- maybe $500/mo for a small house.  I would still require decent credit, though.   Some percentage of low credit score people would be able to pay the rent, but statistically many would have to be evicted, and high turnover plus legal fees would add to the cost of the property, making low rent impossible.  I would rather provide low-cost housing to people who are stable enough to actually afford the low rent.

I've thought a bit about this, and I think starting a non-profit to provide housing for those with kids would be something I'm interested in doing someday.  Something where the rent is subsidized, there's a financial program they have to complete, job skills training, etc.  I think our city already has something currently, but it's downtown not close to our suburb.  I see people moving all the time either due to evictions or chasing lower rents, and it's hard on the kids.

Yeah, I have a friend who is a teacher and she tells me that many kids have multiple addresses per year, often changing school districts.  Relative to 100 or even 50 years ago, food is really cheap, clothing is really cheap, and housing is really expensive.  So it's a major need of the poor.  My city has a system for subsidized housing consisting of multiple apartment buildings at different locations, but this is a high-crime city and almost by definition those are rough neighborhoods.

OmahaSteph

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Re: Rant: idiot applicants
« Reply #18 on: May 17, 2016, 01:52:38 PM »
I'm loving this thread. I thought because my credit took a small hit after my divorce that I'd have some troubles, but looks like I get a gold star compared to train-wrecks y'all are describing!