I Closed on a Rental Home…


I closed on a rental home in Tucson, AZ a month ago which had a tenant whose lease has over 6 months remaining. The rent is due in a few days, but the tenant provided a “Notice to Terminate Lease” in 30 days. Her basis for termination is that the rental agreement does not address a transfer of ownership and so she has the right to break the lease without paying the break lease fees.

My research did not find anything supporting her position. Am I correct that the tenant must abide by the rental agreement until it expires?


Change of ownership does not affect a lease agreement in any way unless stated otherwise in the document. The tenant cannot use the sale as an excuse to break the lease or to avoid adhering to any terms contained in the lease agreement.

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An applicant’s application information checks out except for one thing. The prior address listed on application does not appear on PALS results. In fact, for the period of time the applicant states he was living at a particular address, PALS comes up with a different state for that same time. Plus, the report shows two different DOBs, although they are close.


The first thing that I’d do is ask the applicant if there is a reason for the address difference without giving the address except perhaps the state to see if he/she comes up with the address in that state in agreement with that from PALS. There can be many valid reasons why addresses disagree. I myself have at times had several different addresses that I used for various purposes at the same time, sometimes among several states, all legitimate.

Regarding the date of birth, have you not copied his driver license? If his driver license agrees with his application, there may be an error in PALS. Does the credit report agree with the PALS report? One must remember that different grantors of credit report at different times and do not all update records at the same time.

Incorrect digits (e.g., a 5 instead of 6), transposition of digits (e.g., 47 instead of 74), and a variety of other data entry errors are common. Also, dates sometimes end up in error because there are defaults in the system. For example, if only the month and year can be entered without the day of the month for a particular system and someone enters 5/25/64 as only 5/64, the system may default to 5/01/64.

Finally, one must remember that there are a number of workers in the credit reporting system, from creditor to reporting agency, most being low-paid employees, so there will be errors. Usually, most are not significant, so no one bothers to correct them. When using any type of screening report, one must be alert for discrepancies, but one must also attempt to resolve them and then decide which of any unresolved ones are important.

Again, when you don’t understand something about an applicant, simply ask.

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I had an applicant whose previous addresses did not match their online reports, and the ‘landlord’ they gave as a reference was not listed as the owner of the addresses, etc. In questioning this I asked to see their driver licenses (not provided with the application) and last tax return (to verify income and address). They decided not to rent the property. Do I still need to send a notice of denial?


Legally, you may not need to send anything. First, as I understand it, they withdrew their application. Second, if you did in fact indicate denial, it was based on identity and previous landlord issues rather than related to a credit report. However, you did utilize reports and you would buy a lot of protection against claims by sending a letter “confirming” that they had withdrawn their application because they were unwilling to provide information necessary to resolve discrepancies in information provided to you.

This type of problem and a lot of wasted time can be better avoided by requiring proof of identity when the application is submitted. I recommend that two ID documents be provided, with one being a government photo ID such as a valid driver license, military ID, or passport and the other being another photo ID or a SS card, motor vehicle title or registration, or a valid credit card. Make copies of ID documents and don’t accept an application without doing so.

You did right in verifying ownership of previous address property.

I recommend that landlords attach a document to each application form handed out that states exactly what is expected and what checks will be made for every applicant in order to avoid wasted time and expense for all parties concerned. It doesn’t hurt to include a fair amount of detail regarding what will be done as part of the screening processes including that verification of identity, ownership of previous rentals, and exactly which screening reports will be obtained. Also state that the application will be automatically rejected if not fully completed or if discrepancies found are not resolved to your satisfaction.

The bottom line is that the more written advance information provided to potential applicants, the fewer potential “bad” tenants will submit an application, the less wasted time you will spend on filling vacancies, and the less risk there will be of Fair Housing or FCRA claims.

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