While finding a suitable tenant for your vacancies, you’ve probably come across applicants who are on a visa. Whether it’s a work or student visa, many of these applicants have no financial background in the United States, and this makes performing a credit check impossible. Everyone in the United States (regardless of whether they’re a citizen, a green card holder, or have a visa) is protected under the Fair Housing Act, which specifically covers “discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and the presence of children.”
To avoid a potential discrimination lawsuit, you should prepare your leasing process to include practices that can vet your applicants, equally. You should conduct a background screening check on all your applicants and allow all interested to fill out a rental application. To make the application process for visa holders easier, consider accepting these alternative forms of documentation:
- Passports as Identification
You want to confirm that the applicant really is who they say they are, but in most cases, they probably don’t have a state-issued ID or driver’s license yet. The most reliable form of identification, in this case, would be their passport.
- Proof of Employment
As with any applicant, you’ll need to see that the applicant has a steady source of income. Be aware that there are multiple ways to illegally create fraudulent paystubs online. A letter from their employer can easily be forged. Some ways which visa applicants can prove they’re reliable can be through copies of bank statements, tax returns and student grants.
- Social Security Numbers, If Available
While some applicants with visas might have a social security number, it’s important to note that not everyone does. Regardless, you should always accept SSNs from applicants (as a credit report can be pulled with a SSN). You will not be able to run a credit report on a taxpayer identification number (TIN).
- The Previous Landlord’s Contact Information
Another way you can see if the applicant is reliable is to contact their previous landlords. Considering that your time zones might conflict, request the landlord’s email address instead of their phone number. While this should not be your only means of figuring out whether or not an applicant is reliable, in combination of additional documents, contacting the previous landlord can help secure your final decision.
While allowing alternative forms of documentation like passports, tax returns or bank returns when making a rental decision will significantly help when your applicant is on a visa, it’s vital that the online rental application does not differ from non-Visa applicants. This will keep you out of hot water with Fair Housing.
Have you had an applicant on a visa before? How did you verify their identity and employment without a credit score? Let us know in the comments section below & be sure to subscribe!