Tenants: How Many is Too Many?

Posted by Teresa on February 23, 2010 under Landlord Tips, Tenant Screening & Background Checks | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

tenants-moving-in2-300x227Mark O. is a landlord who just purchased a single family rental house on foreclosure. The neighbors have informed Mark that although the home has only 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, there are several cars parked at the house all the time, and seemingly a dozen adults living there.

Mark is concerned about the wear and tear on his property, with good reason. Here’s how he plans to handle this situation:

First, Mark is going to require a new lease agreement for the property. The lease will contain a clause about the number of people allowed to reside in the rental unit. His limit will be two adults per bedroom, or six adults total.

Next, Mark plans to require that each adult over the age of 18 who is living in the house complete his tenant application. Mark’s standard practice is to conduct background screening and credit checks on each potential tenant. Any potential tenant who does not meet Mark’s minimum requirements for income and credit worthiness will not be allowed to sign the lease—and will have to move out.

Mark knows that the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against tenants based on family status (married, unmarried) or number of children. Therefore, he has no intention of not renting his new rental property to any adults with children who pass his application process. Mark is also familiar with his local zoning law on rental units, which says that no more than three unrelated persons may share a single dwelling unit.

Limiting your rental properties to properly screened tenants who have passed your application process is the best way to protect your investment and your liability. If non-tenant adults have moved in with your tenants, you are under no obligation to allow them to stay.

Pre-screen all tenants as part of your standard application process. Background and credit checks will help ensure you rent to qualified tenants. For more landlord resources, including forms and information on tenant screening, turn to E-Renter.com.