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Unhappy - feeling pressured
Old 08-30-2013, 07:09 PM   #1
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Unhappy - feeling pressured

We own an older condo with beach access in Florida, which we were hoping to use as a snowbird home once I retire. Actually we'd like to sell it, but sales are slow in that development. So, we'd like to re-rent for a year and hopefully then I'll be retired and can be fully involved in selling it.

We use a local real estate/property management company. They have offered the unit on-line for $1,000.00 per month.

We just spent $4,000.00 on new flooring, and the property manager has come up with one prospective tenant. We don't accept dogs, but are feeling pressured to accept this tenant because they are calling their cocker spaniel a 'service dog.' Please read the correspondence that our property manager sent us, and let me know your thoughts. Right now, I have a sick headache.

FROM PROPERTY MANAGER to the OWNERS:
I am attaching correspondence between my Broker [the head of the real estate agency] and the client that submitted the application to lease. :::::There is a questions regarding Federal Housing and Service animals and I want you to review all the information below before responding.
[PROPERTY MANAGER's NAME],

Please get the application completed by [prospective tenant].

As to the service animal, remember:
* You may not discuss his disability at all. You may not ask what his disability is.
* You may discuss his service animal only to the extent that he has one and what documentation has been provided. No documentation is required. There is no "approved" type of certification.
* You may inquire what the service animals special skills are. Although without being able to ask what the disability is, you won't know how his special skills are relevant.
* The tenant is solely responsible for the cost of caring for his service animal, and repairing the unit after vacating the unit.
* A sufficient deposit can be asked in order to return the unit to the condition upon renting. The cost of the items in the increased deposit should be documented so it is not excessive or punitive.
* If the landlord has a physical or psychological disability that will not allow him to reside in a unit recently occupied by a dog such as their or their visiting grandchildren's pet allergy, then sufficient funds should be set aside to accommodate the landlord's needs. Items such as HEPA vacuuming the unit, replacing some or all flooring, and painting if it impacts the landlords needs post tenancy.
* The landlord cannot discriminate against a disability, unless he rents the unit without publicly offering it through some type of advertising or marketing.

I am not an attorney and this is a very unclear area of law. One that the government has left terribly vague. So recommend that the landlord ask for legal advise before making their decision.
signed,
[BROKER]

AND FROM THE APPLICANT:

[To the PROPERTY MANAGER],

Please tell the owner how much we love her home tand that we truly want it to be our first home in [TOWN]. We want to rent it for 1-3 years or as the owner wishes...but with at least one option to renew. To show our extreme good faith and appreciation of her home, we are willing to pay an additional $100 / month to show that appreciation and to remove any concern she may have that we have an 18 lb Service Dog ( who is beautiful and fully trained )


As I told you, I am at the final stages in a multimillion dollar business development in The Carpet Industry. I am sorry to say that this totally self-funded business is succeeding greatly and is bing adopted by 3 of the 4 US Major Carpet Companies... You can read about it in the attachment to this e mail.... It is going to change carpet performance forever !
As a result of this investment and the fact that I had to use all sources of captal possible, please understand that I impacted my credit scores. I know that I am now about 600 on Experian... Therefore, should this be a concern, I would gladly either pay several months in advance or offer additional security....or...whatever the owner wishes.
Also.... please assure the owner that we are also keeping our [other home] and that we have sufficient furniture left over from the sale of our home in [state up North] to make this apartmwnt a show piece when she will want to show it again.
Please tell me in advance should you wih to contact my current broker in [home] ( 7 years perfect rental record ).... I lived in my [up North] home for about 38 years....
Please tell me in advance if you are going to contact my references... These are high corporate people and contacts in a Billion Dollar Class Company to whom I have been a Consultant for >10 years.
Sincerely, [tenant]
P>S> [tenant's wife] loves this home...
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:17 PM   #2
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Amethyst, I don't know anything about being a landlord, but here is an article on fake service dogs you might find of interest -

Frustrated by Fake Service Dogs | NBC Bay Area
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:18 PM   #3
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You could always deny his application based on his low credit score... No need to address the dog issue at all.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:20 PM   #4
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Amethyst - if you are uncomfortable and can afford it, pass. Posting about being "pressured" is not good.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:24 PM   #5
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It quite upset me that the broker was already going on about how we, the owners, need to get "legal advice." Sounds like they are scared of these prospective tenants being big sue-ers.

Amethyst
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:26 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by FIREd View Post
You could always deny his application based on his low credit score... No need to address the dog issue at all.
This. He is rationalizing his low credit score (which is probably even lower) and wanting you to tell him if you will contact his references and previous residence? Never mind the dog, this screams deadbeat and $$ to get rid of (when they claim you are discriminating against the service dog).

We are on our 4th sweet and dumb cocker and they all could use their own service dog--not the breed anyone would want for a service animal.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:32 PM   #7
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That letter from the applicant sounds like a scam letter. This from a retired investigator.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:33 PM   #8
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The part about credit score, references, and even the reference to the carpet business sounds just plain suspicious. I think you're fortunate to be able to use the low credit score as a legitimate way to say "no", without any regard for the disability or service dog.

Trust your instincts.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:34 PM   #9
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You could always deny his application based on his low credit score... No need to address the dog issue at all.

+1 - That's all you need.

The broker suggesting you consult an attorney is because the broker can't provide legal advice so that is their signal to you that the service dog matter could be a potential discrimination issue that you might want to stay away from and not even mention as being the reason for denial.

Sounds like this potential tenant has ridden in this rodeo before - they've tried to cover all of the landmines they know they bring to the table while playing the emotional card with you to garner affinity "we just LOVE your home! PS - (name) just LOVES your home!"

Go with the poor credit score as the reason for rejection, it's all you need to say no. They may counter that they negated that by offering multi-month payment in advance, but all you (or your broker) need to respond with is that you do not accept prepayments.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:37 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bestwifeever View Post
This. He is rationalizing his low credit score (which is probably even lower) and wanting you to tell him if you will contact his references and previous residence? Never mind the dog, this screams deadbeat and $$ to get rid of (when they claim you are discriminating against the service dog).
I agree. As a landlord, my BS meter would be flashing red if I received this kind of letter from an applicant.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst
It quite upset me that the broker was already going on about how we, the owners, need to get "legal advice." Sounds like they are scared of these prospective tenants being big sue-ers.
Then all the more reason to avoid entering into a contract with them.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
... As I told you, I am at the final stages in a multimillion dollar business development in The Carpet Industry. I am sorry to say that this totally self-funded business is succeeding greatly and is bing adopted by 3 of the 4 US Major Carpet Companies... You can read about it in the attachment to this e mail.... It is going to change carpet performance forever !...
What the heck does that mean? Does that mean that 3 of the 4 US Major Carpet Companies will be competing with him? Or he is getting their business? Final stages? As in, "I have not made any money yet, but boy am I ever in debt"?

Hyperbole (and everything else) = red flags to me.

If the credit score isn't enough to disqualify them, then how about some income reports? Do they actually have a steady income, or are they counting on future revenue from this (over-hyped) business?

I also have to agree with BWF, as adorable as cocker spaniels can be, I've never seen one as a service dog.

Let them know if you are going to contact their references? That is what references are for - contacting. That alone would make me say no. Maybe they need to practice their fake accent?

All shades of yellow, orange, red flags appear.

I'm also glad my ER plans did not include rental property (not directed at anyone, just a personal observation).

-ERD50
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:44 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by FIREd View Post
You could always deny his application based on his low credit score... No need to address the dog issue at all.
Another +1. All you have to do is make sure you don't get a tenant later with the same or a lower credit score. This is so much safer to do than deal with the dog issue.

Years ago, I found an apartment I wanted to live in, and put in an application but the owner wrote me back saying they would most likely rent the place to someone else, and I asked why. They said it was because one potential tenant offered more money (such is the case with your potential renter). I was not about to start a bidding war on a rental, so I continued to search for an apartment. A few days alter, they emailed me asking if I was still interested. I asked them why, and they said that his credit score was bad, and they realized that was why he was offering more money. Yours loosk kind of similar... plus a dog, but the dog doesn't matter. I don't know what this guy's score was, but the landlord said there was no way he was going to rent his place to this guy even with the kind of money he was going to pay for it.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:53 PM   #13
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Just say NO. It is unbelievable what people are putting out there. What really ticks me off is the blatant abuse of what is truly a need for some people.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:54 PM   #14
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All good posts to help solve the problem. I agree as there is just too much information and detail provided in advance of the lease. Also remember, once they are in you will play hell getting them out. Sounds like trouble to me also. Just find a regular tenant, whatever that is.
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Old 08-30-2013, 07:56 PM   #15
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I'd go with what FIREd said - deny it on he credit score issue and don't leave them the opportunity to accuse you of denying them because of the alleged service dog.

I was serious about the scam letter comment. Full of irrelevancies designed to impress, mislead and reassure, extravagant excuses for a a low credit score, wording which comes meaning the opposite (I'm sorry to say..), and the inapropriate capitalizations, the promises of financial payments higher than requested ...

...others have posted different red flags as well. I'm waiting for him to ask you to invest in this remarkable new product and send a check to an overseas address...
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:06 PM   #16
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What kind of income would they show? Sounds like they would have little or none until (IF) their business takes off. Along with the credit report that would be more cause for rejecting the app.
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:28 PM   #17
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You could always deny his application based on his low credit score... No need to address the dog issue at all.
Another +1 to this.

I smell BS in the letter from the prospective tenant, but the beauty of relying heavily on credit scores and credit reports is that it allows you to legally deny renting to potentially troublesome tenants, and quickly sidestep all other kinds of tricky issues. IMO, a credit report and the accompanying credit score says a lot about the suitability of a potential tenant.

For the last 3 or 4 years, I have been acting as a leasing agent for my landlord. He really dislikes the process of selecting tenants, so has me do it for him. He only owns a few properties but since doing it, I have found about 16 or 17 tenants for him, and they have all been good. I verify current and past employment (as well as current income), talk to current and past landlords but most importantly, look through the full credit report with a tooth-comb. Anything less than near-perfect credit is a disqualification. It may sound a bit harsh, but there are so many qualified and responsible people (in this area, at least) that there is no need for me to consider anyone else.

I advertise the properties on Craigslist and talk to potential renters on the phone. I make it very clear in the ads that applicants must have excellent credit. I also bring up the issue on the phone. My intent is to, as much as possible, ensure that if someone gets as far as putting in an application, they will probably get the apartment. Occasionally, an applicant will make it as far as the application process with an imperfect credit report, and as hard as it is to deny an apartment to seemingly nice people, I turn them down straight away. It's not an easy thing to do, but my greatest fear is picking a bad tenant for my landlord, so I don't take that chance.

Anyway, FIREd said it all with his simple sentence - turn him down based solely on his credit. No need to make it any more complicated than that. It sounds to me as though you may well be saving yourself a lot of trouble further down the road.

I think I'd have reservations about a property management company that was even entertaining the possibility of taking this tenant on. Are you satisfied with the services this management company is offering you otherwise?

EDIT - One more thing. As well as requiring excellent credit, I need to see a credit history of at least 4 - 5 years in length. Occasionally I will allow a shorter credit history in the case of a young person with a particularly solid application, but have never gone below 3 1/2 years. It's important to me to see that a person had at least some opportunity to screw up financially, yet didn't.
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:31 PM   #18
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I've never been a landlord but I'm learning so much from all the experienced landlords here.

Reject them just because your ordinary floor covering could never compete with their revolutionary carpet invention or whatever multimillion dollar business they are bragging about!

Then go watch "Pacific Heights".
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100318/
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:47 PM   #19
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I agree with the OPs -- reject them on the basis of credit score. (And I hope that you are planning on pulling a credit report, so you can a) definitely verify that their score is low and b) keep it on file if there are any push-back issues from these folks as a result.)

FWIW, I've been told by realtors in Florida that Florida landlord-tenant law greatly favors the tenant. Therefore, keeping potentially troublesome renters from getting their foot in the door is critical.

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Old 08-30-2013, 08:49 PM   #20
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I agree the credit score is a potential concern, but the grammatically-challenged explanation is a bigger one. Especially regarding the references.

I'm curious about the "attached brochure" the applicant provided. Does it support the statement "I am sorry to say that this totally self-funded business is succeeding greatly" ?!?

It's also a red flag that the applicant has requested you give notice that you will be checking references. Either they are references or they are not - that's the choice the applicant made when submitting the application. You or your agent will contact them, or not - your choice.

If the applicant is a scammer, the advance notice could be a way to alert a friend / relative / accomplice to answer the phone with "Megacorp Carpet Corporation" for a few days. (To flesh this out, make your first call to the "business" references at night. Carpet company offices are closed at night and don't have voicemail messages that sound the same as a residence.)

If this leasing agent is making you feel "pressured", they want their commission pretty bad. just remember their immediate business interest is not aligned with diligently seeking information that could be a basis for disqualification of the applicant.

I'd check out those references personally and keep notes.
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