How to pick a good tenant to sublet your place: Google, Facebook, and so-so credit scores

By Margot Slade  | April 22, 2011 - 10:15AM

If you're thinking about subletting your apartment soon (summer, after all, is just around the corner), you may want to tune into a discussion in which small landlords are swapping advice on how to pick a good tenant through techniques like Google and Facebook checks.  Suggestions include:

  • Look for people who have steady employment, rather than a short period of time work history. Ask for a letter from their place of employment with salary, position and period of time at the place.
  • Check their names on Facebook or on blogs (search through Google blogs).
  • Google their current address.
  • Ask all the basic questions -- employment verification, personal references (and are the references related to you) -- and then ask more - were they ever involved in a fire, for example, and if they saw illegal activity taking place, what would they do.

Interestingly, a high credit score (700s is considered excellent) is not necessarily a requirement--use credit scores as a guide and take into account the reasons behind a low score.

"Credit scores can oftentimes be misleading," cautions one. "When I rented my unit I had my lawyer do the checks. I believe my tenants had a credit score in the 500s and the other might have been sightly higher. My lawyer made the comment that 'in that neighborhood' you might not find higher scores and pointed out that the problem was primarily that they were late on student loan payments a few years back."

Another commenter noted: "None of my tenants had good credit and it has never been a problem for me (knock wood). I'm not saying it shouldn't be an issue, but I would not overlook someone who was honest about hitting a rough patch in the past if they have their act together now." 

The Wall Street Journal said on Monday that landlords are increasingly ignoring a foreclosure in the past of prospective tenants, especially if they have historically been reliable payers with solid credit scores.  

For more sublet intel, check out our previous post on common mistakes, such as keeping the security deposit in your personal account versus a landlord-tenant account,  not requiring your tenant to get renter's insurance and 'forgetting' to get approval.  If your top choice for renter needs a guarantor but can't find one, here's an innovative solution to that dilemma. And if your landlord is putting up a fuss over your decision to sublet, here's the deal on  your legal right to sublet.  

(;; previously)

Related posts:

5 ways to screw up your sublet 

What's a normal sublet fee?


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