How does a prospective tenant's credit affect your decision?

Gwen of [hotlink removed Zillow moderator] recently wrote a blog [hotlink removed] about common issues related to tenant's credit, and what they can do about it.

Philly landlords and Real Estate professionals: How heavily do you weigh credit in your rental decision, and what other mitigating factors are there? If their income and landlord references come out to be superb, will you overlook their subpar credit report?
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January 21 2012 - Philadelphia
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Profile picture for shasta_steve

 I did once and never again.  If someone has great income but lousy credit all it means is they make enough money but will have no intention of actually paying you.   I work with a guy who makes 120k a year but can never make rent because he thinks taking the family to Disney is more important.  My tenants had great references too but I am sure they were mostly fake.  

That being said if someone had a foreclosure, especially if it was a strategic one, I would not be upset about that, if it was the only thing on their credit.  I would actually see that as a good thing.  They most likely have enough money to pay the rent but will not be buying anything soon, so they are going to stay put if they get a good deal.   

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January 21 2012
Interesting, thanks for your point of view Steve. Feel free to keep tabs on my property management [hotlink removed Zillow moderator] hosted on [hotlink removed Zillow moderator]
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January 22 2012
Profile picture for sunnyview
Property managers that I have spoken with recently say that their screening process has changed since many good prospective tenants now have damaged credit due to a foreclosure or short sale.

They tell me that they now place a heavier emphasis on employment history, job stability and the items in the credit report as opposed to just the raw score. When I asked them if de-emphasizing the score has resulted in more issues or evictions, they said no. Their feeling was that in this market even stable, financially responsible tenants may come with some credit score "baggage". 
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January 22 2012
Profile picture for shasta_steve

I was helping a friend of mine, who recently went to work with me, find an apartment or house to rent.  I asked a couple of property managers about all the foreclosures and they all said the same thing.  They were worried about ability to pay and the types of things on your credit report but not really the actual number.  

Like I said before I would actually feel a forclosure or short sale, if that was the only major thing on the report, would be a good thing as far as a prospective tenant.  If someone just moved to the area, had a great job and great credit I think they would be very unlikely to stay very long.   Most likely they are just feeling out the area before they want to buy.  

Another thing I found out about being a landlord is being a nice guy just does not cut it.  I gave my tenants a good deal and way too lax when it came to them paying me.   My one tenant basically told me that they were trying to keep their credit score up and I was basically last on the list to get paid.  She did not say it exactly like that but that was pretty much what she implied.  If I am ever in that position again I will write up a much better contract and stick to it, with no leeway.  If I would have done that from the begining I would not of had nearly as many problems. 

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January 22 2012
Hi Gwen,

A prospective tenant's Credit Report should be heavily weighed when evaluating a tenant. The Credit Report is more important than a previous landlord Recommendation because the previous landlord may want to "pass on " this tenant to another unlucky landlord. 

 Secondly, a prospective tenant who has a high income but marginal or poor credit often times demonstrates lack of responsibility. You could end up with a tenant who doesn't pay his/her rent on time, or at all.

Best,
Laura
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January 22 2012
 
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