Landlords can reject applications for all kinds of reasons. At the same time, they are not allowed to discriminate based on certain criteria. These two statements leave a lot of gray area for landlords when it comes time to review the applications of prospective tenants.
Requiring an Applicant to Have a Job
A landlord can require tenants to have jobs and to disclose their employment information. You are allowed to ensure that the people you rent to can afford to make the monthly rent payments and pay for utilities.
In addition, you can require a minimum income to ensure that your tenants have sufficient funds for renting the apartment. While a landlord can set the rules, the general rule of thumb is that the rent payment should be no more than one-third of the tenant’s monthly income.
While this isn’t technically the same as turning down an applicant because of their job, it does impact the kind of jobs a tenant can have. For instance, a landlord who charges $1,000 a month in rent for an apartment wouldn’t accept a person making only $900 per month unless he or she would have a roommate. This is just common business sense, and won’t get you in trouble.
Another issue that goes back to affordability is job stability. If the job is seasonal or the person switches jobs often, you may not feel that they are a good risk as a tenant, and you would be within your rights to turn him or her down.
Other Reasons Not to Rent to a Tenant Because of a Job
Other than a lack of sufficient income, you may have other reasons you don’t want to rent to someone because of his or her job. For example, you may not want the unit to be unoccupied because someone travels for work a lot. Maybe he or she works odd hours and would disrupt the rest of your tenants when returning home.
Whatever reason you have for not wanting to rent to a tenant because of his or her job must be applied to all applicants. In basic terms, landlords have the right to refuse to rent to anyone as long as they don’t discriminate against someone because of a protected class. A job doesn’t technically fall into that category, but you have to be careful in case it can be linked to one of those protected criteria.
If you were to turn down an applicant because of his or her job and it had anything to do with their age, color, race, religion, or other protected criteria, the applicant could claim discrimination. A simple example would be to reject the application of a preacher, priest, or rabbi.
The key to protecting yourself and your property when screening applicants is to set your requirements in writing. Follow those standards when interviewing all applicants, so that you may be fair in your reasons for rejecting applications. It is also a good idea to show your stated minimum requirements to an attorney who specializes in this area to ensure that you are not breaking any state or federal laws.
Landlords have the right to feel good about the people they rent to. And they shouldn’t have to worry about their tenants being able to afford the rent. At the same time, they want to make sure they aren’t breaking any laws and practicing illegal discrimination in rejecting an applicant based on his or her job.
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