Rental Qualification Process and credit report etc

Asked by siaj_nad, Fremont, CA Sat Jun 22, 2013

Recently I had a strange experience, this is my first time dealing with private party Single family rental. Before sending in all the paperwork, I had discussion with owner regarding her qualification criteria. They said , in addition to financial / credit report etc they will look for rental history and kind of family they are renting it to, but mere financial qualification would not be a sole criteria. They had been working with financial consultant to do a credit check and other analysis. They later responded that their financial agent recommended some other family and they will go with agent's decision. This was not the impression they gave before sending the paperwork, also, now they have my SSN and other details , I sent all paper work through this owner to the agent.
Is this normal or I should be worried ?

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Terry Farnsw…, Agent, Lisle, IL
Mon Jun 24, 2013
An individual landlord is bound by the same "rules" when it comes to discrimination as anyone else. That said, there is nothing wrong with a landlord - or real estate agent for that matter - setting high financial and/or credit requirements. Everything in your question seems fairly normal - except for the part where you mention that they will look for "kind of family they are renting it to".

There is nothing wrong with a landlord requiring a certain credit score, or level of income - so it's possible that while your financials are good - the other applicant's was better.

Regardless of whether you are represented by an agent or not, when it comes to fair housing - discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and handicap is never OK per federal law. There are other protected classes as well that vary by state.

You are allowed to, however - set restrictions such as "No credit scores under 700 will be considered" etc.

Hope that helps!
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John Souerbry, Agent, Fairfield, CA
Mon Jun 24, 2013
I have to disagree with Michael and Brian - an individual property owner renting out their home is actually bound by all the same laws under which someone with a real estate license must operate. When it comes to federal, state and local laws concerning fair housing, there is no difference between a landlord who is licensed and one who is not.
The only difference between a licensed and unlicensed landlord would be how they're prosecuted if found to be in violation of fair housing laws. An unlicensed person would be prosecuted just for fair housing violations, the licensed person would be prosecuted for violating fair housing laws and for doing so as an industry professional as defined by the business & professions code, which has an additional set of requirements and potential punishments.
Unlicensed landlords are prosecuted for violating fair housing laws all the time.
The link below addresses your question.
0 votes
Michael Koen…, Agent, Pleasanton, CA
Mon Jun 24, 2013
As Brian Ripp stated, an unlicensed individual renting out their own property is not bound by the same laws and principles as a licensed agent or property management company. That being said, an owner does have the right to determine whom they prefer as the tenant for the property.

You may put in a request that the owner destroy your confidential information. However, 'the cat is already out of the bag' in that they've probably already run a credit/background check on you.

Bottom line, it is not out of the ordinary for this scenario.

Thanks and best of luck!
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Brian Ripp, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sat Jun 22, 2013
I believe the owner can choose any family and/or any tenant they want. Although they say they had help with a professional, they likely made the final decision. The owner is not licensed and does not have all the same rules as a licensed agent. They likely had many applications to pick and I'm sure they feel this applicant was the best for their home.
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Natasha Green, Agent, Danville, CA
Sat Jun 22, 2013
First Time Home Buyer: A social security number is used for personal identification, and is necessary to do a credit check on a potential . Although, some people are reluctant because of identity theft; however, you can refuse to give out the digits, but don't be surprised if they refuse to rent it to you. Landlords whom ask for a Social Security number are simply trying to get enough information to make your rental as safe as possible for all parties involved.

Hope this helps.

Natasha Green
Realtor/Code 3 Realty
0 votes
Jennifer Fiv…, Agent, Red Hook, NY
Sat Jun 22, 2013
Providing SSN is a normal request when renting, the information is needed to complete a check..
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John Juarez, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sat Jun 22, 2013
If a landlord has two prospective renters who are qualified by virtue of good credit; good income history and job stability and good references from former landlords what criteria can the landlord use to choose between them?

Flip a coin?

I think they can use whatever criteria they want – as long as it is not discriminatory. Do you think that you have been discriminated against? If so, discrimination is an unlawful act. Did you ask for the specific reason that you were not chosen?

I know a couple who made a habit of checking out the vehicles that the people drove who came to look at their rental house. If the vehicle was clean, including a tidy interior, they would chose that person over the driver of a dented, dirty beater with fast food bags littering the interior. They felt the condition of the vehicle reflected the lever of care the renter would give to the house.
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John Souerbry, Agent, Fairfield, CA
Sat Jun 22, 2013
NOT normal. If a landlord refuses to rent to you, he is required to notify you in writing and give the specific reason. If he uses an information source, such as a credit bureau or criminal background screening service, he must give you the contact information for those sources.
If you feel you've been discriminated against, I recommend you speak with an attorney.
You can ask that the landlord shred your confidential info, but providing it is standard procedure.
0 votes
Josh Barnett, Agent, Chandler, OK
Sat Jun 22, 2013
ssn is needed to complete the background check.
0 votes
I understand. I had sent SSN / Salary / Credit report / Bank balance as well but I did not have direct contact with their financial agent who made the recommendation. and I also dont know what was the basis of the recommendation. I was hoping this to be an objective and transparent.
Flag Sat Jun 22, 2013
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