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Advice for screening a foreign renter
March 8, 2011 9:10 PM   Subscribe

I own a condo in northern Virginia that I have been renting out for a few years and I have an applicant to move in...from overseas. He is post-doc at a government agency that has a two year appointment. What kinds of information should I gather to screen him as a tenant? And how do I deal with the broken lease from the previous tenant?

This applicant is living with his supervisor and I have been speaking with that man's wife to facilitate the language difficulties. The applicant understands and writes English but doesn't speak that well yet. Interestingly a friend of mine also works in the same department so they can vouch that the applicant is employed etc.

I imagine it will be near impossible to check rental or employment history. Are there other things I need to consider with a foreign tenant?

A side question: my current tenant is breaking his lease because he lost his job. The lease has a section on "breach of lease" but that is more like violating a rule. Can I keep the security deposit since he is moving out early? He notified me of the early move-out and is helping me to show the apartment to new tenants.
posted by pithy comment to Law & Government (5 answers total)
 
For the side question: even if you can, would you feel right about doing so? If you manage to find a new tenant and lose no rent, take the high road. Your current tenant is losing his home because he lost his job and can no longer afford it. That's a lot of suck to go through, and it sounds like he's trying to make it up to you as best he can. Take the karma & run.

Unless there's legitimate damage to the apartment that you will need to use that money to fix. That's what the security deposit is there for, after all.
posted by kitarra at 9:44 PM on March 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


If the government agency is well-respected, I think they would have done the background checks necessary. Except for very few places outside the US, rental history is non-existent.

Employment history is more verifiable though. Search for his name in Google and see what that turns up [most HR people seem to be doing this routinely now]. If he has a few papers published or anything at all, it adds to credibility.
posted by theobserver at 9:58 PM on March 8, 2011


A side question: my current tenant is breaking his lease because he lost his job. The lease has a section on "breach of lease" but that is more like violating a rule. Can I keep the security deposit since he is moving out early? He notified me of the early move-out and is helping me to show the apartment to new tenants.

I can't speak to VA law, but everywhere I've rented breaching the lease as a tenant means the landlord gets to keep your deposit. That said, I think I speak for renters everywhere that if you manage to fill the condo right away, we'd all wish you much good karma if you refund the man his deposit, minus your expenses in finding the new tenant (and any damage he may have caused).
posted by auto-correct at 11:10 PM on March 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ask for two recent paychecks to verify that he can pay for the apartment. Also get his supervisor to vouch for the duration of the postdoc. Given that your friend works at the agency and can also vouch that he does, I think you're pretty well covered.

I think I speak for renters everywhere that if you manage to fill the condo right away, we'd all wish you much good karma if you refund the man his deposit, minus your expenses in finding the new tenant (and any damage he may have caused).

Yes, this. You should only keep a pro-rated part of the deposit for however long you were unable to fill the apartment (plus damages).
posted by kdar at 1:02 AM on March 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Check the law on this. In some states, the deposit explicitly may not be used as rent.
posted by freshwater at 7:25 AM on March 9, 2011


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