Can a landlord call your employer?

TLDR:  

A landlord may call your employer when you apply to rent to verify employment or income and ask related questions.

Full Question and Answer

Renter's Question

So I picked up an application to rent a new apartment and saw it asked for my boss’s name and the phone number for where I work. The thing is, I’m actually looking for a new job… I don’t really get along with my boss and she’d do anything in her power to screw me over. It’s kind of a delicate situation but I’d really like to avoid getting her involved at all. If I give the landlord copies of my pay stubs or whatever to prove my income, do you think he’ll still try to call my boss?


RadPad's Answer

Yes, a landlord can call your employer—and he probably will. It’s not at all unusual for a landlord to request details on your present (or even former) employers so he can get the low down on you. Look at it from the landlord’s perspective: he doesn’t know you and you’re asking to live in his apartment. There’s nothing stopping you from just telling a bunch of lies on your application so he’ll rent to you (trust us, people do this all the time). Verifying everything you tell him lowers his chances of getting screwed over. He wants to rent that apartment to somebody who can pay the rent and if he rents to you and things go south, he’ll be lying awake at night thinking about that clean-cut engineer with a six-figure salary he turned away the day after he signed the lease with you.

Be warned: don’t think he’s only going to ask about your income, either. He doesn’t know you, but you’ve given him the phone numbers of people who do, including your boss. If he’s savvy, he’ll milk those contacts for all they’re worth. Anything your boss or anyone else tells this landlord about you gives him more insight into what kind of tenant you’ll be. Have a history of coming in late to work or calling out on Mondays? He’ll assume you party a lot. Been written up for insubordination? You could be a difficult tenant. Unfortunately, landlords aren’t really limited in terms of what they ask the people they call.

Of course, you can always talk to him, explain the situation, and ask if copies of your paystubs would be sufficient to show how much money you make. But keep in mind, the second you tell that landlord not to call your employer, alarm bells are going off in his head. He’s looking at you thinking you’re lying about your income (paystub copies can be faked, you know), or your boss is on the verge of firing you and you’re going to move in only to lose your job a week later. He’s going to sign a contract with somebody for a year or longer to rent this apartment, which is always a risk, so naturally, he’d like to have the least amount of uncertainty as possible.

Keep in mind, too, that the ball is really in his court. He’s under no legal obligation to rent to you. In fact, as long as he doesn’t refuse your application for discriminating against you because of something like your race, religion or gender, he can reject you for any other arbitrary reason. He could reject your application simply on the grounds that you refused to let him call your employer, if he wanted to, and it would probably be easier for him to do so. You’re not even renting from him yet and already you’ve got issues. You can’t blame him for wondering what problem you’re going to have next. #truth

Read this before acting if your landlord is requiring you to get renters’ insurance.

Even worse, has your landlord said that he only takes cash? Here’s the low down on that situation.

Sources

http://www.landlord.com/how_to_thoroughly_evaluate_the_p.htm

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/renters-rights-book/chapter1-2.html

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/three-red-flags-landlords-should-heed-when-screening-tenants

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/renters-rights-book/chapter1-2.html

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