RENT Magazine Q2 '21

renter will pay rent on time and follow your lease. You should also factor in the average renter in your area and what is reasonable for the type of rental you have. It's also a good idea to discuss your rental criteria with an attorney near you. Although there are dozens of criteria you could look at, here are the top five you may want to consider:


You may have heard a 3:1 income to rent ratio is ideal, but it does not factor in the cost of living in your area nor the applicant’s debt. Consider the following scenario: John Smith makes $3,000/mo and rent is $1,000/mo, but John pays $900/mo for his auto and student loan. That leaves him $1,100/mo. Is this enough for him to cover his cost of food, gas, utilities, etc.?

Looking at the individual’s net income (income - rent - debt) will give you a better picture of how tight money will be for your tenant should they move into your rental. You can find the renter’s debt on their credit report. Note, if your rental is in an area where you are required to consider applicants with housing vouchers like Section 8, you should count the housing voucher as income. Some states like California and New York also require you consider all sources of income, including social security, child support, and other types of government assistance. Regardless, you can always require the applicant to verify the income. For example, a letter, a recent bank statement showing the deposit, paycheck stubs, or W-2.

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