Buying house in a neighborhood of recent immigrants

I’ve identified a zip code that looks promising (rent price to house price). Most of the occupants of the neighborhood are recent immigrants (I’m not sure how recent though). My concern is: is it going to be hard or impossible to do tenant screening on people who haven’t been living here long? References? Should I pass on this zip code, or has anyone here done this successfully? Thanks.

I don’t know about your situation, but I know a landlord who found his own “niche” marketing with immigrants.

He rents out single family homes to immigrants. They pay all utilities, including water. These are nice, sound homes in a lower-income neighborhood. He charges a bit more rent than market ($50-$75/mo). He tells them that he MUST have the rent on the first, but that it is okay if family members share the house. He knows that newly-arriving relatives would move in anyway, so why not let the tenant know it is okay.

Relatives move in, they get jobs, they help out with rent, they move on. Also, he tells them that minor repairs must be handled by them, and no trash, etc. Most of the immigrants work in the trades, and they can tile, do concrete, etc.

He has had great success with this plan. Everyone is happy. The same large extended family has rented these houses for several years. It helps if you speak the language of the immigrants, too.


Thanks for the information FO. That is what I was hoping to do, create a niche, since I do speak the language of the people in that zip code.

My main concern was how to do tenant screening with them, that they may have no credit history if they recently moved to the US, or might have committed crimes in another country that wouldn’t show up on a criminal background check.

Here there are a number of people who are brought to this town from Kenya Africa. I was talking to a local investor who was renting to a family and he found out that they were cooking their food on his floor. Yes, on the floor. Not on a grill on the floor but on the floor with a pile of wood on top.

I’m sure that there is a nice market in renting to immigrants right off the plane but do remember that they don’t all understand how things are done here in America.

There is no way you are going to be able to screen them. You will have to base it on if you get a good feeling about them as honest people and that they have verifiable income. I’m sure they are part of some program that brought them over here and I would find out about that and ask them how they choose who comes to America.

There was a day when America only accepted the best and the brightest from other countries but that day is gone.

This situation isn’t that extreme, luckily.

Upon further investigation, I found out most of the people in that zip code are actually not immigrants–they’re from Puerto Rico. So most of my issues may be solved. Except for getting previous landlord references if they’re from landlords on the island could be tricky.

Isn’t this a little bit tricky with the fair housing laws? Instead of saying " it’s okay for family members to move in", wouldn’t you have to say “there is no limit to the # of people who can share the house”? But then they could just let anyone move in.

On the one hand, I’d assume that people from other cultures aren’t as sue-happy as Americans, on the other, I see large billboards in Spanish here for Morgan & Morgan (the big personal injury law firm in Florida), so I may be assuming too much.

No, I don’t think you can screen them. And that might be okay. You may have to just try this system and see how it goes. If there are a number of adults they should generate enough income to pay the rent. Different cultures have different rules regarding number of people who can stay comfortably in a house.

In my grandmother’s tiny little house in Denmark, years ago I counted 24 family members sleeping. She had big cupboards full of featherbeds, quilts and blankets. Every inch of floor space was taken. I slept under the parlor table so that no one would step on me if they got up at night to go to the outhouse. It was unheard of to stay at the village inn. Only crazy rich people (Americans) would waste money like that just for sleeping!

I once rescued a Hmong or Laotian family in San Diego. They were all standing distressed in their front yard with their hands over their ears while the smoke detector shrieked inside. There was a charred spot in the middle of the kitchen floor. They had no idea what was making the horrible noise. They had wall-to-wall beds, maybe 6 or 8 double beds in the bedroom. You had to crawl to the distant corner bed. It was a bed for a village! Now they probably laugh about it…"Remember when Auntie tried to cook on the floor?! Ha Ha! Another immigrant story from our big melting pot…


LOL, interesting. It appears that cooking on the floor isn’ t as uncommon as it would seem Furnishedowner.