Apartments for Cheap

Questions and Answers

Your Questions About House Rental Application

August 14, 2013

Joseph asks…

Is it wise to include a credit report along with the rental application?

I’m filling out the rental application in order to rent a house. To show the landlord I have a good credit history, I’m thinking of including a credit report along with the application. Do you think that is a good idea?

Administrator answers:

You can…but they will likely pull it anyway. Can’t hurt, especially if the one you bring is different from the one they pull.

They will most likely pull one….*maybe* 2 but that costs them more $$

Donna asks…

Screening out housing rental applications by last name = discrimination?

My aunt wants to rent out part of her house, but since she barely speaks English, she wants tenants that she can actually communicate with in case any sort of problems arise. I have helped her post on Craigslist and received a lot of replies, but she wants me to screen out and ignore emails from people whose names don’t sound remotely Korean. I know that’s racial discrimination, but she really couldn’t help it? Her son is away in college so she really couldn’t communicate with her tenants if they don’t speak Korean. What should she (or I help her) do?

Administrator answers:

The federal fair housing act (FHA) contains an exemption for owner-occupied residences with four or fewer units. It sounds like your aunt would fall under that exception. The FHA protects against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, gender, religion, familial status, and disability. Your state or municipality may have additional protections.

A couple of things to be careful about:

- The Civil Rights act of 1866 covers all properties (even those exempt under the FHA) and prevents discrimination based on race.

- The FHA’s exemption for owner occupied residences does not apply to advertising, so even if you can discriminate in your choice, you can’t discriminate in your advertising.

- Some state laws do not include the full FHA exemption (for example, I believe that Illinois only exempts owner occupied properties with two or fewer units).

Additional information:
I just saw the other advice advising you to just request someone who speaks fluent Korean in the ad. I thought about recommending that (after all, she’s right that there’s nothing RACIAL about what languages you speak). It still might theoretically get you in trouble on the grounds that it could be said discriminate based on national origin or have a disparate impact based on some other protected class. Realistically, I doubt anyone would sue such a small landlord over such an issue, but it’s something to consider.

Donald asks…

Can federal financial aid be used as part of income requirement for rental application?

My boyfriend and I are both university students and we’re looking to rent a house together. We both have jobs but those alone won’t give us 3 times the rent, which is the income requirement for the house we want. Do rental companies accept financial aid as income or are we going to have to find a cosigner?

Administrator answers:

Every rental company and every landlord is different. Their real goal is to make sure you can afford the rent payments so they don’t get stiffed. Just convince them that you can afford it and most of the time you are going to be fine.

James asks…

Is it safe to provide account numbers on a rental application?

Should a rental application ask for both a social security number and bank account numbers? I’m trying to rent a room in a house and would like to know if it is safe to provide this information.

Administrator answers:

It depends on the individual who receives that information. I might want it to audit (verify) your bank account balance. It’s not full-proof, but it can be a measure of the ability to pay.

There’s always that possibility that the person could use it for dishonest purposes.

Helen asks…

Who do I call if I think we got ripped off for application fees on a rental house? They would only take cash.?

My husband and I wanted to rent a house, called and met with the owner, and after looking decided to put in our application. The application had a portion to pay the $90 fee with a credit or debit card which we did. Two days later he called and said they didn’t take credit cards anymore and we needed to pay him cash. So we met up and gave him cash. Now it’s been more than three weeks and no calls and he won’t answer when we call him. We think he is running a scam to make cash on the side. Show the house a couple times a week and make $90 cash each time could easily make a few hundred a week! Who would I call to report this guy?

Administrator answers:

You call your states real estate board.

That would exceed the limit in my state, which is 35 for person. But, every state has different rules on the amount the landlord can charge for an application fee.

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