How should you handle an under-aged tenant applicant? There are difficulties for a landlord property owner or a property management company with someone who is too young to legally enter into a lease (a contract) and with a tenant too young to establish enough credit history to effectively run a check.
Add in the hurdles of letting someone move into a property without a pervious rental history and this can create a property management concern.
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Today’s question comes from Christine Srojodil.
“Running an application today and one occupant turns eighteen next Tuesday. I require background screening on occupants that are eighteen years or older. The occupant is not eighteen today but would be when the least starts. Can I require the occupant to be screened or not [if] our written application guidelines say eighteen years or older for screens? What are your thoughts?”
I think screening them is the best way to go. In evaluating any tenant, we need a credit history. We need to look at their decision-making abilities. Have they been paying off their debt consistently? And of course, in order to pay their debt on time, we need them to have debt in the first place. We need them to have had credit cards for a while, or we need to hopefully have even a history of car payments in there. We just want to see that the potential tenant has a history of debt as well as a history of paying that debt.
That really is our top criteria, so having an eighteen-year-old applicant does make things a little bit more difficult. For us, I don't think an eighteen-year-old would meet our requirements. In this case it sounds like you have more than one tenant applying for the same lease, so that certainly helps, but I would definitely recommend getting a cosigner for that particular eighteen-year-old just as a little bit of insurance. We don't value cosigners as much as I think a lot of landlords do, but it does offer some reassurance and makes the individual take things a little more seriously knowing that Mom, Dad, or whomever is going to hear about them not paying their bills. Perhaps Mom or Dad can even kick in, if they're the cosigners, to make sure those bills get paid in the worst case scenario!
An eighteen-year-old would definitely be a tough one for us to take on as a single tenant. We would certainly need them to have a credit history no matter what, but if they were applying alongside other tenants, I think we would probably consider them with a cosigner. We wish you luck with that one!