Emerging Renter Demographic Justifies Review of Tenant Screening Practices

by Chris on October 18, 2010

They say that politics makes strange bedfellows, but in this case, it’s the economy.

The U.S. Census Bureau is investigating an interesting demographic twist:  more singles are pairing up than ever before.

Analysis of demographics over the past couple of years indicates that landlords are very likely to see more unmarried couples applying for leases – and unmarried tenants bringing home a mate.

The major factor for this shift, now affecting about 1 in 7 renters, appears to be long-term unemployment. 

The spike may be occurring because so many renters have run out of unemployment benefits, savings, and the goodwill of friends and family.  Doubling up and combining households spreads what little wealth the renters have, and provides a security net should one person lose their job.  However, the trend is clearly toward coupling, not just finding a roommate.  Could that imply emotional forces are at work here as well?

Most of the couples in this emerging demographic are between 20 and 30, and often only one is working the entire term of the lease.  Determining which one has a job at any given time can be difficult. 

Landlords should protect their interests, especially in tough economic times.  First, require tenant background checks on both applicants.  Also, it is a good idea to have both sign the lease agreement.  That way, if they split, the remaining tenant will be expecting to pay rent. 

Decide whether to accept their combined income, keeping in mind that they are neither married nor divorced, so neither one is financially responsible for the other.  In several states, it is discriminatory to refuse to rent to the pair because they are not married, if they are otherwise qualified.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports. 

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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