Decisons, Decisions…

So, I got my first applicants after only a few showings. I love love love getting applications. It’s like a big scavenger hunt, calling references, checking credit, figuring out who these people are and what they’re like… That, and I’m one step closer to getting a lease signed, which means I can take the ad down and stop scheduling showings.

I have always wanted to rent to all of the people that have applied, but I have had to make a few tough decisions and turn people down in the past. Most notably was the couple who applied a few years ago — the girl was fine, but the guy had no checking account (red flag #1), terrible credit (red flag #2), and his landlord reference was “oh, he always pays, but I usually have to hassle him about it for a while… if I show up at his door he pays…” I sent out rejection letters, and the girl was able to piece together that the boyfriend was the one with the issues… she actually called me to ask about it (all I could say, really, was that the negative references were for a member of her “party,” but not her). The incident may have broken them up – she told me she was having second thoughts about moving in with this guy after finding out more and more about his finances… I liked them both, but the guy simply wasn’t going to work out.

The people who recently applied — I like them both too, but there are some iffy things that I found during the screening process, which I won’t go into in the event that someone were to be able to put together who I am and what property I’m writing about. However, both pay their landlords, have good employment references, and seem like nice people. The guy (perhaps in a ploy to make me pick him over other applicants) even offered to help out with lawn mowing and whatnot. They’ve been very quick and thorough with sending back the applications.

I waffled. I considered cosigners. I showed the apartment to other people, while still waiting on some calls to be returned, and have not yet gotten any more applications. I wrote up rejection letters, but put off sending them out. They don’t seem ideal, but they don’t seem bad enough to reject flat out. I went out for lunch at Subway, and found myself dissecting the people in the store, and on the street — most of them looked like far worse candidates for my upstairs neighbors. I considered the negative items I found while screening past applicants, all of whom turned out to be perfectly fine renters. One of the applicants emailed, asking if I had received their apps, and told me that they were still really interested in the apartment.

I decided to go for communication. I called each one of them, asking for explanation on each of the negative items, and they were up-front and reasonable with their answers. I sent them a cosigner application. They tell me it’ll be no problem to get a parent to cosign, and I told them that they’d be accepted with a cosigner. I hope that that was the right decision!

A friend of mine, who rents a house, doesn’t do credit reports, because he figured that anyone renting a house in his part of town has bad credit anyway. True, perhaps, but I’ve always been adamant that he should be pulling credit reports anyway, just to know what he’s getting himself into. And here I am, waving people through, despite some not-so-good marks… really, though, the landlord reference is the most important one. And the negative stuff was from a couple of years ago… It did give me the head’s up that I might want a cosigner… I guess we’ll see soon enough if I made the right decision or not!

Meanwhile, I’m continuing to take calls and show the apartment – nothing’s really a done deal until you have a signed lease…

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4 thoughts on “Decisons, Decisions…

  1. I am SO, SO GLAD I came across your blog! I have the same set-up you do, renting out the upstairs, and I just bought this place (and started landlording) 6/30/08. I’ve had to go through finding a tenant once, so far, and we’ll see how things go with her of course, but I think I made a good decision. I did have to reject a pair of students and felt like a huge ass about it, but the circumstances just weren’t in their favor (at all; they didn’t even have their financial aid figured out, yet, and classes were starting the next day. Shows a lot of drive and ambition, eh?) Anyway, know that I’m reading!

  2. This blog is fantastic! I plan on buying a duplex after the New Year and a friend has already agreed to rent the other side. Getting to read about the trials and triumphs of being a single woman in an investment property is great preparation. My favorite blogs are the ones about upkeep and repairs because those are my biggest fears. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading!

  3. Ok… I am hooked and can’t seem to stop reading your posts! Trust your gut… if you think there are iffy things and they make you at all uneasy it’s much better to move on. TRUST me. I don’t know where you are located but if you have yet to have to go through the trouble and pain of kicking a tenant out… it’s a long and painful process which is made even worse if you live above/below them.

  4. First of all great blog! I really enjoy reading your posts. I wish I enjoyed taking applications and running the background checks as much as you do. It is actually my least favorite part about being a landlord. I hate rejecting people and I feel like a rotten prick for doing so even though it is just business.

    Just out of curiosity do you charge your prospective tenants for the background checks? I charge each adult applicant over the age of 18 a thirty dollar non-refundable fee which always makes me feel even worse about turning them down but I really don’t see any alternatives.

    I would suggest being careful when receiving landlord references because some will give you a positive recommendation just to get rid of a cruddy tenant. I think credit score is the best indicator if a tenant is going to pay or not. Obviously the higher better.

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