Upcoming lease issues
July 12, 2012 8:32 PM   Subscribe

In one month I am moving out of my current living situation and moving into an apartment on my own. I'm stressing due to multiple issues, most importantly regarding my rental history, which is shaky, and a roommate that isn't paying rent. Will my rental history cause issues when I try to get a lease?

I'll try to keep this brief. I have been living for 2.5 years in a craigslist house here in Portland. I have not been on the lease at all in the 2.5 years. I signed nothing. Prior to moving in here I was on a lease, and before that I was on a lease. I've personally never had any issues with late rent, NSF checks, property damage, etc. I've always gotten my deposits back.

In my current house, only one of my roommates has been on the lease. We've had nothing in writing, only a gentlemen's agreement that each of us would pay our share, and this roommate would pay the rent. Said roommate moved far out of state in February. We agreed to let the deal stand as it was, we pay the rent to him, he sends out a check to the landlord. The lease is set to end August 31st, and because our landlord is selling our house; we all are moving out. We've discussed the fact that there won't be a renewal with our landlord nearly a month ago.

The most severe issue right now is that my our leaseholder and former roommate has not paid rent on time. He claimed to have sent a check via online billpay that was supposed to come around July 3rd (rent due on the 5th). That check never came. He resent the billpay with a new due date of July 12th, and again it hasn't arrived. Obviously our landlord is not happy with this situation, and it comes at a particularly bad time as I know I am going to need rental referrals. I am currently pressing my former roommate to get the money to him ASAP. The amount of money that's currently due is more than I can afford and still have enough money for a move/deposit/first/last in one month's time. My other roommates have significantly less money than I, and very likely wouldn't be able to assist with the rent. Mind you, we've all paid our money to our former roommate who is on the lease.

I'm curious as to what the hell I do now. Our landlord is pissed at us due to the very late rent situation. I'm particularly worried that my former roommate might have screwed us over out of the rent that is due. When I apply for an apartment, what do I put down for my rental history? How do I explain away that I haven't been on a lease for 2.5 years? If I use the current landlord, he might claim that I owe a share of this rent that's poofed. My address will definitely show on a credit history. Also how do I deal with my former roommate didn't get rent in? I have good credit (720 average) and my income is more than sufficient for any apartment I get. Am I going to be going up a certain creek without a paddle?
posted by Mister Fabulous to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How do I explain away that I haven't been on a lease for 2.5 years?

You have a lease, just not a written one. Your landlord is your former room mate. Have him write a glowing recommendation.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:51 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

When did you pay the roommate? Is it too late to put a stop on the check and pay your landlord the amount you owe directly?
posted by k8lin at 9:14 PM on July 12, 2012

You have a lease, just not a written one. Your landlord is your former room mate.

I'm wondering if I can skate by on this. Anyone else care to chime in on this idea?

Is it too late to put a stop on the check and pay your landlord the amount you owe directly?

Too late. I went on vacation around the first, paid June 27th, so over two weeks.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:20 PM on July 12, 2012

I can only speak from my own experience, but I spent about 3 years subletting places and paying my roommates with only handshake agreements or back-of-napkin contracts.

When I decided to start applying for apartments run by property management companies, I had no problem using my former roommates/"landlords" as references.

How do I explain away that I haven't been on a lease for 2.5 years?

Yeah, just say you've been subletting and make sure you have people your prospective landlords can call who will vouch for you even if they're not the people who actually own the property you live in.

I've managed to sign a lease at a decent apartment while unemployed with almost no savings and no references other than friends I'd lived with. You'll be ok.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:55 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing you should use your roommate as a reference and you should be fine.

When I lived in NE I had problems with both landlords I had there (tenant rights were pretty crappy - it was a home-owning town, not a lot of renters). One would show up unannounced claiming the rent was late....ON the day rent was due, before mail had been delivered - stuff like that.

But over the summer I sublet from a relative with a different last name. So they were number 1 on the reference sheet, followed by the two awful places.

I got an apartment no problem.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 10:58 PM on July 12, 2012

You shouldn't have a problem if you explain the situation like the above commenters mention. If they are still apprehensive, make sure you give them your work information (to prove you can afford the place,) and if you can afford it, you could offer to pay some additional money on the security deposit. good luck!
posted by chriscollins at 11:32 PM on July 12, 2012

You have a lease, just not a written one.

Where I live, the local landlord-tenant laws are pretty explicit that this is the case.

I don't think there's anywhere I've looked into renting that would have had a reason to discover whether the previous place I'd lived had a written lease anyway. AFAICT all most landlords seem to care about is whether you paid your rent on time, trashed the place, pissed off other tenants, ran illegal drugs out of the basement, etc.
posted by hattifattener at 12:05 AM on July 13, 2012

I own a property management company and have a lot of experience checking references. I'm totally a hardass, and I ferret out fake references and people using roomates and family members. I always try to talk to the actual landlord or manager of the property.

But you know what? I'm the exception. Most of the time landlords don't investigate that much.

The number one thing you can do to increase your chances of getting the apartment is to print a copy of your credit report and proof of income, and bring it when you look at apartments. Also dress neatly and be clean and polite. With a lot of individual landlords and smaller companies, that will be all you need.

For bonus points, track down your former landlords and get references. Also, you can get copies of cancelled checks or bank records that you paid to your roommate as proof that you paid your rent.

Anyway, don't worry about it, you'll be able to find a place.
posted by Melsky at 3:46 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you end up renting in a complex, they typically check your credit, ask for paycheck stubs and that's the end of it.

If you want to rent from an actual person, offer them a copy of your credit report, paycheck stubs and tell them your story. These days, when half of the people in the US are suffering with all kinds of financial issues, most landlords just want some proof that you're not a deadbeat. If you are prepared to meet with them and honestly discuss your financial worthiness, I'm sure you won't have any trouble at all finding a good situation.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:04 AM on July 13, 2012

This is really not something to worry about. I've been in this situation before and like others have suggested, just used my roommates as landlords. It wasn't an issue at all. Landlords just want to know you can and will pay the rent.
posted by lunasol at 7:03 AM on July 13, 2012

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