Applying for rental house - need advice
May 26, 2013 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Husband and I are seeking a rental home. We found a nice house and the landlord has invited us to apply. Last time we applied for rental the property manager had us do a credit/background check via an online service. This new landlord gave us a paper form asking for SSN, DOB, our checking and savings account numbers, employment history, and other info. The landlord is an older person with a couple investment properties. I'm sure this is not a scam, but I am reluctant to hand all my ID and bank numbers to a stranger. Advice? Anyone know a simple, reputable online background checking service that I can suggest to this landlord? We would pay the fee. My goal is to make the landlord comfortable so we can lease the house. The Seattle rental market is very tight. This landlord has his pick of many worthy applicants. We have excellent credit, references, etc.
posted by valannc to Work & Money (9 answers total)
That seems a bit odd to me. Can you ask why they would need this info, and let them know you'd be willing to pay for a third-party background check?
posted by Specklet at 8:16 AM on May 26, 2013

The landlord is trying to establish that you're responsible tenants. To do that, he wants to run a credit check on you and establish that you are consistently employed. Nothing unusual in that.

You say the rental market is tight; that means the landlords will be able to dictate terms. You can try to negotiate with the landlord on what he is asking for, but if the market is as tight as you say it is, don't expect him to budge.
posted by dfriedman at 8:19 AM on May 26, 2013

Best answer: This is normal, but negotiable. They're asking for the checking and savings account numbers for the balances, I think - what I was able to do is take screenshots of the balances for the accounts, without the numbers, and that worked for me.

This is in NYC, which is probably the tightest housing market out there, so don't worry that you can't negotiate. You may also be able to get away with providing a credit report with your SSN blacked out. They don't really care about the data pieces - they're just means to an end. Give them what they want and it should be OK.
posted by corb at 8:21 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: @corb -- good observation.
When we met the landlord, I showed him my savings account statement and current renters insurance policy -- with account numbers blacked out.
I could see that made him comfortable.
posted by valannc at 8:28 AM on May 26, 2013

Best answer: Remember that your checking account number is on every single check you sign. People are always freaked out about giving that number but it's not really a secret. DOB and SSN are pretty common request for landlords. You can try providing printouts of a bunch of online accounts and a credit report and see if that will work. You might not want to make him jump through other hoops by making him register for another verification service.
posted by barnone at 8:53 AM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've had to provide that information for every apartment I've ever rented - salary, last 3 jobs, time at current job, references, bank accounts, current debt info, etc. in addition to my SSN and other credit check info. Usually I'm putting it on a boilerplate standard form not created by the person or entity renting the property.
posted by LionIndex at 9:06 AM on May 26, 2013

There is nothing unusual in his request. This is the exact info my landlord requests of all new tenants. He uses a paper form. And he requires that prospective tenants pay the background check fee.

If you act twitchy about this, it may raise red flags for him. If I were him, I'd move on to the next applicant who didn't put that hurdle in front of me.
posted by nacho fries at 9:07 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think what you are looking for something like This is service is (or can be) free for landlords. It is very easy to set up. The landlord provides the tenant's email address. The tenant then provides his information directly to the credit agency who sends a summary recommendation to the landlord. Landlord does not see detailed credit information.

So, if the landlord is inclined to work with you, that might be a solution.
posted by metahawk at 11:14 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the replies! We signed a lease with the landlord. We asked him to show his drivers licence and document proof that he owns the house.

We gave him all the info he requested on the application. The rental market here is way too tight to quibble. This house is nice, and a prime location. And he added our dog to the lease.

@metahawk. mysmartmove is a great idea. I may show it to my new landlord after we settle in.
posted by valannc at 8:11 AM on May 31, 2013

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