When Tenants use the Divorce Excuse for Bad Credit

Here is what you need to find out and why:

When did the divorce occur?

It is important to understand the approximate time frame in which you would expect to see the derogatory information begin to appear on the credit report. If the majority of debt with negative remarks appears years before or after the supposed divorce, then you have a discrepancy on your hands that needs to be addressed.

Someone who says they got divorced in 2010, but shows an unpaid utility in 2009, 2011 and 2015 or has an automobile repossession in 2011, an unpaid judgment in 2014 and credit card late payments in 2016 evidences a pattern pointing to a bad consumer, not just a bad divorce.

Did you guarantee (co-sign) any accounts?

The credit report will actually indicate if it’s an individual or joint account, but you want to hear more about what caused the problems and whether or not the story checks out – so don’t share your findings with the applicant until you’ve had a chance to review everything. Just let them feed you with as much information as your ears can bear to hear.

Ultimately, if you can see a direct correlation between the bad relationship and the bad debt, then the story is most likely valid. However, you must then decide if you want someone who is possibly not responsible enough to take charge of his or her personal finances. What if they are planning on moving into your rental with a new partner and that relationship proceeds to go sour? It’s up to you to decide if the explanation behind the troubled finances is something you can personally accept.

BY THE WAY: Mortgage lenders, banks and other creditors don’t hand out exceptions for bad divorces. So, this is your opportunity to humanize the situation if you choose – but make sure you are comfortable with all of the facts.

Posted in Tenant Screening.

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