Can you ask renters about immigration status?

Rent it Right

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 12, 2012

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If they're leaving for a stint in the Peace Corps, in practical terms you won't be able to enforce this obligation, and it will be rather useless. On the other hand, tenants who are leaving because they've just bought a house across town will be easy to locate, serve and sue; they have the potential to be useful guarantors.

This analysis puts the cart before the horse, however. You write that the substitute "appears to be acceptable." Don't make decisions on appearances -- do your homework and check this person out, with a credit check and a full rental application.

No amount of chasing down ex-tenant-guarantors can compensate you for damage or general headaches that a hastily chosen replacement can inflict.

Janet Portman is an attorney and managing editor at Nolo. She specializes in landlord/tenant law and is co-author of "Every Landlord's Legal Guide" and "Every Tenant's Legal Guide." She can be reached at

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