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Old 08-14-2011, 06:02 AM
 
17 posts, read 26,051 times
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There's an open house today as posted on Craig's List, for what seems like a much too cheap rental ($1300 for a rambler in Annandale). Since it's an open house, it seems like there's no harm in checking it out, but it clearly says "$50 application fee per applicant to include a credit check". I could risk the $50, but I don't like to hand out my social security number for credit checks. Besides, I have a Fed job and a clearance---any landlord around here should realize that vouches better for my character and finances than any credit check. But, it's been a long time since I've hunted around for a rental, maybe with the economy the way it is, this has become a normal procedure with rental applications? Would you give out sensitive personal information as part of the rental application process or is that just a way to get scammed?

Inside Beltway @ Annandale RD & Gallows RD (http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/apa/2543451150.html - broken link)
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:12 AM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,509 posts, read 33,218,075 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiercePancake View Post
There's an open house today as posted on Craig's List, for what seems like a much too cheap rental ($1300 for a rambler in Annandale). Since it's an open house, it seems like there's no harm in checking it out, but it clearly says "$50 application fee per applicant to include a credit check". I could risk the $50, but I don't like to hand out my social security number for credit checks. Besides, I have a Fed job and a clearance---any landlord around here should realize that vouches better for my character and finances than any credit check. But, it's been a long time since I've hunted around for a rental, maybe with the economy the way it is, this has become a normal procedure with rental applications? Would you give out sensitive personal information as part of the rental application process or is that just a way to get scammed?

Inside Beltway @ Annandale RD & Gallows RD (http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/apa/2543451150.html - broken link)
I just got an apartment and yes paying for a credit check is a standard procedure. Usually it is in the application fee along with the background check, and rental history check. I could see your skeptism with the price but it is an open house and it may be cheap for a reason.
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:33 AM
 
Location: Censorshipville...
2,661 posts, read 6,223,862 times
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Application fee with background check is pretty normal. SSN/B-day is required to perform a background check as well.

Also, just because you're a fed doesn't give you any special status. I know feds with pretty crappy FICO scores and I've ran across them as a landlord as well.
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Old 08-14-2011, 07:15 AM
 
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A credit check seems normal, but the application fee seems a little high to me. What are they going to do if they get more than one application with good credit? How will they choose and will they keep the fees of those they don't choose? Will they apply the fee of the chosen renter to the first month's rent? I only wonder because they are having an open house - presumably a lot of people will come. It might not be a scam, but I would want to make sure that I wasn't turning in an application along with dozens of others. I guess you will get a feel for it when you go there and meet the owner/manager in person and see the place. I have definitely paid fees and had credit checks with a lot of rentals, but usually I was the only applicant and knew I would get the place if everything was OK.
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Old 08-14-2011, 07:28 AM
 
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I'm not seeing a controversy here. You go to see the rambler during the open house, say "Meh" and leave. Normal real estate searching.

Or you go to see the rambler during the open house, say "Wow!", and apply to get it. As far as I can remember, EVERY rental application anywhere includes verifying credit/background and is followed up with a relatively large security deposit to boot.

Am I missing something here?
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Old 08-14-2011, 07:36 AM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,735 posts, read 8,920,861 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sullyguy View Post
I'm not seeing a controversy here. You go to see the rambler during the open house, say "Meh" and leave. Normal real estate searching.

Or you go to see the rambler during the open house, say "Wow!", and apply to get it. As far as I can remember, EVERY rental application anywhere includes verifying credit/background and is followed up with a relatively large security deposit to boot.

Am I missing something here?
I agree--no harm in stopping by and relying on your gut. They may be asking for a fee as a way to weed out the financially unstable (though a large security deposit would be more effective).

When we rented out our house, we didn't ask for an application fee. We said we'd do a credit check, but the truth is we had no idea how to do it, so we didn't. We did ask for pay stubs, though--and had the two tenants agree to "joint and several" liability--i.e., if one of them flakes on the rent, the other is liable for it.
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Old 08-14-2011, 07:40 AM
 
1,261 posts, read 5,602,215 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oneasterisk View Post
Application fee with background check is pretty normal. SSN/B-day is required to perform a background check as well.

Also, just because you're a fed doesn't give you any special status. I know feds with pretty crappy FICO scores and I've ran across them as a landlord as well.
ITA with onesasterisk. As someone else said, there may be a reason for the "bargain" rental rate, but it can also be that the landlord is renting at below the rental rate to increase the number of prospective tenants who apply and have a choice (based on the background/credit check results).
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:02 AM
 
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Thanks all, OP here...I'm 40 years old and have rented since I was 18 (with the exception of 6 years of home ownership) and have never had to provide a social security number just to apply, so this is news to me. It just seems like an easy way to get a dozen people to come, provide personal data that can be sold to identity thieves, then tell everyone someone else was chosen. It would be different to me if an established third party was taking the personal information and providing the screening (or if I could directly request to credit reporting agencies that they send my info to the prospective landlord sans social security number).

And, to the point about feds and credit scores, credit scores are notoriously unfair and the security clearance process is so much more intensive that there is much more likely to be a fair judgement about whether a person is in fact a financial risk (versus, say, having an ex spouse drag their credit through the mud).
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:19 AM
 
1,256 posts, read 3,503,236 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiercePancake View Post
It just seems like an easy way to get a dozen people to come, provide personal data that can be sold to identity thieves, then tell everyone someone else was chosen.
Certainly could be. Here's the ownership information site - don't give your info to anyone but the owner of the property:

Fairfax County
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:32 AM
 
1,256 posts, read 3,503,236 times
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Lol! Checking property records for the ramblers near franklin and annandale - 3630 was sold for =$5= in 2004.
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