I lied on my rental application.
July 11, 2015 2:05 PM   Subscribe

I was informally evicted from a lease in the past year. I skipped it in my rental history on a new application. Now what?

I was "asked to leave" a room I was renting because my landlord was not happy about pot use (not in the home, but enough for them to smell). I was in the wrong here definitely and have learned my lesson. We did not go to court, I simply left at the end of the month at their request and they kept my security deposit. We have not spoken since I sent my portion of the utilities. If it matters, my landlord is a parent of a roommate. We are all college students in the Midwest. My total occupancy was about five months long (August-December).

I have been in my new apartment since the beginning of January. They asked my previous landlords info, but did not call to confirm. I am in great standing with them. I'm only leaving because I'm moving from one town to another to finish school.

Today I was filling out a rental application and left off this unsavory experience completely. I gave the info for my landlord from about a year and a half ago. We are on good terms.

Here's my question:
- They're going to figure this out, right? And when they do - am I going to get declined or will they call to clarify? There was a logo on the application called Lease Shield or Tenant Shield, sounds like a third party that processes these, does that give me a better or worse chance of slipping through?
- Can I fix this? Can I call back and say shoot, I got my wires crossed, here's the correct info? Say I was staying with a friend or my parents for that semester and did not have a formal lease?
posted by rubster to Human Relations (14 answers total)
Unless you have a collection on your credit report or are asked about the gap in address time for the Aug-Dec I'm not sure how they would find out about it.
posted by Karaage at 2:10 PM on July 11, 2015

I mean, I don't think they'll find out one way or another, but for something that informal you could say you were staying with friends if they somehow question the gap in rental history.
posted by lydhre at 2:21 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Won't they call to confirm with my landlords or am I giving them too much credit?
posted by rubster at 2:32 PM on July 11, 2015

There is nothing for them to "figure out". There is no legal record of your eviction because you were not legally evicted. There is no "permanent record" of your lease history except in the sense that the IRS and credit companies probably have a record of you receiving mail at that address.

Assuming someone tracked down these people and called them, it would still be their word against yours, and the reason most places do not call previous landlords for references is because a lot of landlords are...not running a business and don't act like businesspeople.

Basically you had a roommate issue where someone didn't like the way you smelled. This is not of any interest to leasing agents. They're going to check your criminal record and credit. If you were unable to provide a number of any landlord, that would be a red flag (because honestly, that would mean you have no friends who will answer the phone and say they're your landlord). How would they even know how to call your old roommates?

This is a non-issue.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:48 PM on July 11, 2015 [20 favorites]

So basically you lied by saying you were in apartment X for 12 months when you were actually in apartment X for 7 months and apartment Y (that you were asked to leave) for 5 months? No, they're not going to care. If they notice the discrepancy when they call apartment X and ask you about it just say, "oh whoops, I wrote down the wrong end date." Basically your future landlord wants to know that you, A. Have good credit, and B. haven't been kicked out of anyplace for property damage. They're not going to care that someone's mom who you rented from didn't like that you smoked pot, and they're vanishingly unlikely to care if you smoke it in their apartment unless it's something that disturbs the neighbors.
posted by MsMolly at 2:48 PM on July 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's just not that unusual to have a gap in your rental history. At your age, a lot of people move home with their parents for a few months. I think it's highly, highly unlikely that they're going to care about the gap, given that you have two good references from two different landlords.

I have a good friend whose husband's family owns rental properties, and what I've learned from her is that a lot of tenants are unspeakably horrible, and the stuff I think of as bad behavior on my part doesn't even rate as far as landlords are concerned. If you pay the rent and are not violent or destructive, you're probably a desirable tenant, unless you're moving to a place with a really tight housing market.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:55 PM on July 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

By the way, in the future, if you need to account for that gap, you lived with friends briefly and then you moved out. End of story. Not a reference.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:57 PM on July 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

This stuff doesn't matter. Any landlord who is a stickler about this time gap will be a terrible annoying landlord to have in general.

Speaking from multiple experiences of my own and many friends experiences here. It just doesn't matter. And when it does, and "oh I was staying with my brother/was on a road trip" isn't a good answer run.
posted by emptythought at 3:22 PM on July 11, 2015

If you put the wrong end date, they could easily catch that. "Can you please confirm dates Tenant stayed with you?" is an easy question to ask the former landlord. In fact, I'm a landlord and my reference check is based on a form from a popular "guide to being a landlord" book, and that question is on the list. In the future, I'd be honest about the dates, leave the gap and just say you stayed with your friends or something (basically true?). Or explain it all to them -- something like that wouldn't faze me, if you otherwise qualified, except that I'd stress to you that this was a no smoking property.
posted by slidell at 4:21 PM on July 11, 2015

If you falsified the length of a tenancy, that will likely come out in a landlord-background check and may cause problems--it may not; it's a thing that depends on the landlord. If you have a 5-6 month gap in your rental history, that will likely be noticed in a landlord-background check and will probably lead to a follow-up question but not necessarily and may not cause problems. The answer "I was a college student informally living with family/friends while I looked for a permanent place" will probably suffice and may not require any type of verification.

I would not call your situation an eviction, "informal" or not, although you were asked to leave. That's not an eviction. An eviction is a forcible removal for violation of terms of the lease. I've asked tenants to move out before the end of their lease and tenants have asked me to move out before the end of the lease. If you both agree to terminate your rights under the lease early, it's not an eviction.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:22 PM on July 11, 2015

There is no such thing as an informal eviction. Eviction is a specific kind of process that involves the legal system. It would be like saying you were informally impeached if you resigned because everybody hated you and wanted you out of office. If nobody ever posted a 3-day notice on your door, etc, (process possibly varying by state, I just know how it is in mine), then you weren't evicted. I worked for a rental management company for awhile. We only once got called about a tenant the whole time I was there, and policy was to verify only the dates of the lease and if we'd actually evicted. But almost nobody calls. The screening company we used just did a basic check for credit history and legal proceedings, they definitely didn't call everybody you'd ever rented from. I'd have been annoyed as hell if we had to spend all day answering calls like that for every past tenant the company'd ever had.
posted by Sequence at 4:49 PM on July 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

Did you say you were at the prior residence for longer than you actually were? There is a chance the dates of your occupancy will be confirmed. In which case, if they get back to you about that, you can say sorry, goofed the dates, I was living with relatives/parents/whoever for those 5 months, and you'll be fine.

But no, there is no way they will find out about that 5-month rental situation unless you told them; you have no legal eviction on your records and your landlords were not a rental company, but parents of friends. They won't be contacted for a reference, even by a formal reference-checking company, as you did not use them as one.

Provided you didn't lie about the dates you lived in the prior place, you're gonna be fine. Actually, I think you'll be fine either way.
posted by kapers at 7:49 PM on July 11, 2015

So work at an apartment community and processing rental applications is part of my job...obviously the policies/qualifications vary at different places so here's what processing your application might look like from my end:

If an address came up on your credit/background check that wasn't on your application, I would ask you if it was somewhere you were renting and if so I would need landlord contact info to verify your rental history. We have to verify everything within a certain number of years back, and I think the addresses that show up on the check are places where you received mail. They wouldn't all be places you rented necessarily - your parents address could show up on there if you were living with them and if recently enough, for example. If you were formally evicted or owed money that would show up on the report but the situation as your described it shouldn't show up - just the address. So yeah, I would call you about the address. No big deal if at that point you were like oh, yeah I was living with roommates in a place that one of their parents owned, but I would have to follow up to verify rental history. It might be a bit weird that you gave the addresses for both before and after, but whatever, I just want to process your app and get my commission, not play detective. I would just ask for contact info for the owner and call and ask some questions. (Based on the wouldn't be able to just contact them without getting the phone number from you). Not all places actually contact the previous landlords - the last couple places I lived for example, they did not. Do you think the landlord would give you a bad review?

I wouldn't straight-up deny your application for a 5 month gap in rental history...not sure about where you are applying and their process, but we would definitely ask you about it first. It doesn't sound like from what you said anything bad would show up on your credit and background check as long as you weren't really evicted and you don't owe them any money. probably would just wait for them to contact you and go from there. It's basically up to you what to tell them about the situation but from what I understand there's a good chance that address would indeed show up on their credit and background check.

Hope that all makes sense! A little rambling but you'll have to excuse me...it was a long day of showing apartments :-)
posted by Shadow Boxer at 8:43 PM on July 11, 2015

"Oh, sorry about that. I must have messed up the paperwork. I lived there for a couple of months, but it didn't work out, so I left."

As a general rule, I find that places tend to be pretty understanding if you phrase it as if you're being discreet on behalf of the other party, here the former landlord. It makes it clear that there was something that you consider impolite to disclose about the third party, but that you're professional enough to not go into it. If they decide to check up on you, chances are that the other party won't mention it either (since it wasn't like you lit their house on fire) and that'll be the end of it.
posted by klangklangston at 2:57 PM on July 13, 2015

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