Should I even bother with running a credit report on student renters? Most of them won’t have a credit history.

Your tenant screenings are priority risk management measures for all rental markets and demographic populations. While some student renters may have limited history in credit, employment, or independent housing, standard tenant screenings should always be conducted. No assumptions should be made regarding an applicant’s history or qualifications. Without screenings you cannot make an informed decision for tenancy.

Basic tenant screenings can include identity verification, background check, credit report, rental housing history, references, employment and income verification, and public records search. Make sure that you research applicable fair housing laws, state statutes, and local ordinances to determine what screenings are allowed or may be restricted according to state and local regulations for your property location.

You can reject an applicant who does not meet the qualification standards or alternatively, accept the applicant with conditions. It is common to require a co-signer or guarantor for the student applicant as a condition for tenancy. Usually one parent or both parents sign as financial guarantors for the student during the lease term. While the terms co-signer and guarantor are often used interchangeably, they can be significantly different and must be adequately defined by the lease agreement.

A co-signer is the same as the primary signer, being simply a signer on the lease agreement. Unless otherwise stated in the agreement document, a co-signer can have all the same rights as a tenant who resides in the property. Accordingly, all co-signers for a lease agreement should be served all notices that are served on those signers occupying the property.

A guarantor is someone who assumes certain financial liabilities for a lease, but does not actually sign the lease agreement and, therefore, has no rights to the premises. The guarantor can be made liable for all financial matters including rents and property damages or only for rents. The guarantor agreement can provide for service of notices to the guarantor(s).

Keep in mind that each co-signer or guarantor must be screened and qualified according to your standard tenant screening policies before being accepted as the student’s co-signer or guarantor and an offer of tenancy is made.

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