Possible Tenant, what's next?

I have a possible tenant, just need to confirm their references, credit etc.

They are looking to move in April 1.
Do I ask for deposit to hold the house till then?
When should they sign the lease? Now or the day they move in?

My only concern is if they change their mind at the last minute and I don’t have someone to rent it out for April.

I’ll hold it for them ONLY if they sign the lease, and put down a deposit. And I wouldn’t go for “can we do this for March 15th??”

Without the lease, they can call you at anytime before movein with any excuse, “sorry, plans have changed, good luck.” With a deposit, and without a signed lease, there’s been numerous court cases on TV where potential renters changed their minds, no lease, but a paid deposit, the judge says to the owner “sorry, there was never any agreement to rent”.

With another month to go before April 1, he’ll drop you like a hot potato if he finds something cheaper, on a nicer street, whatever.

Frank is right. I have waiting 6 weeks to for a tennant to move in. But what I do is make sure they give me a 1 months secuirty deposit due at lease signing. Then when the move in the 1st months rent and sec is due. If they decide to back out anytime then I still got 1 months rent from there. The secuirty is non-fundable after 3 business days after signing lease. I still give them an option to bail just in case there was court. I can always show the judge they had 3 days to cancel and get a full refund.

The tough choice, do you want to wait till April 1st for your tennant. Many times we say No as we think someone will move in today but it just does not always happen.

I do it a little different. I do NOT allow the tenant to sign a lease until I’ve received the full first month’s rent and full security deposit. I will hold the place if they pay the security deposit in full and sign a “Deposit to Reserve Rental Unit” form which states the deposit is non-refundable and that they must pay the rent by a certain date. I have had several change their minds and I kept their deposit.

As soon as they sign the lease, they have rented an apartment whether you have gotten your rent or not. NEVER sign a lease without the rent and deposit. I know someone who did this and had the tenant break in and change the locks. She had to evict them because they had a lease even though they never paid ANY RENT.


I got a lease addendum which states “this lease shall become effective upon the receipt of all security deposits, and the payment of the first months rent”. The keys are not given till the payment".

So far, we haven’t had anyone breaking locks and moving in, but it could happen.

But, so early in the month, we often had many requests for allowing tenants to bring stuff in early, say as of March 15, particulary with early payment of the April rent, with the agreement to rent up as of April 1. The thinking is, I paid the rent, I got the lease, and the place is empty anyway.

We allowed early movein when we were novice landlords.

Then, we had a tenant who rented our place the last week of August for Oct 1, even though the place was ready for Sept 1. Their argument was they had to give their landlord 30 days notice.

Then they asked to move their stuff in early. We then compromised on receiving the Oct rent by Sept 15, and allowing them to move the stuff in early.

Nowadays, we always ask to see every roommate, which we didn’t in this case, and as it turned out, we had to go by fix something and this third roommate whom we never met was home. She then said that how nice things turned out as they had to vacate where they lived by Aug 31, and was able to drag things out two weeks finally able to move their stuff in by Sept 15, not realizing what the other roommate said.

Here, the other roommate was telling us that they didn’t need it till Oct 1. We learned later on they were asked to leave by Aug 31.

After this, if we have a unit ready for Sept 1, and someone said they have to give 30 days notice, we say “we appreciate your being fair to your current landlord, but we have folks needing it sooner than you, and they get priority”. We say this, OK we lied, even though at times, we don’t have someone needing it right away.

Or if we rent it out for Oct 1, we don’t give the keys out till Sept 30.

In fact, the last SFH we rented out, this happened. It was the first week of May, and the tenant wanted to rent it out for Jul 1, saying they need to give at least 30 days notice, and its already into May.

So I gave the speech that I got someone who’ll rent it out as of this coming Monday, which I did. Someone said, I need it today and wrote it on the application, which I showed this tenant. But this particular tenant was much stronger financially, with the wife earning over 125K/year. and the husband has several part time jobs. Having tenants earning more than 125K/year is rare.

And because we stood firm, it was rented out for May 15, with them complaining they got stuck paying rent at TWO places for 6 weeks.

Finally, right before movein, they said they got some good news. Their prior landlord after hearing them whining about paying rent at two places, felt bad, waived the 30 days notice, and didn’t charge them rent after May 15. With rents running $2,000/month, its $3,000 more in our pockets. Nothing to sneeze at.

Better the money out of the last landlords pocket than mine.