Going Global: Approving International Renters With Less Risk

Posted by: TheGuarantors on November 21, 2022

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International residents present a huge market of opportunity for property owners and operators, but several obstacles and pain points get in the way. 

It’s time to fix that.

As of 2021, there were 21.2 million non-citizen residents living in the United States, with the State Department issuing 10 million new visas per year — and with COVID restrictions easing and consulates reopening, those numbers are poised to grow in the coming decade.

Consider, too, that many international residents:

  • Depend on the rental market as they can’t apply for mortgages without credit or Social Security numbers
  • Want to live close to the job or school that brought them here 
  • Seek permanent residency

In other words, these 20 million+ residents need to rent, often want to stay in their homes long-term, and are easy to find near specific places like universities and embassies. So, what’s the holdup? 

The problems with leasing to international renters

As stated above, without Social Security numbers or personal credit established, their financial standings can’t be verified with traditional credit checks.

Additionally:

  • While some international renters come here as established adults for work, many are students who arrive with little more than a bookbag and cash for textbooks
  • Though many international residents are likely to be financially responsible, they may not have U.S. cosigners/guarantors available

With the inflation rate reaching 8.3% in September and the national median rent climbing to a record $1,781 in July, it’s more expensive to live in the United States since the pandemic. Then there are the language barriers, cultural differences, and other challenges we’re familiar with as a nation that’s a melting pot.

You may feel that between the difficulties in screening international renters and the added risks for rent defaults, lease breaks, and holdovers that threaten your bottom line, leasing to them just isn’t worth it.

Don’t let these obstacles deter you. Bolstered by smart and reliable products like Lease Guarantee from TheGuarantors, we explain how to reduce your risk while diving into this pool of renters.  

Want to learn more about navigating high rents and inflation? Check out our post on protecting your properties in a recession.

The best ways to screen international renters

A guarantor/cosigner for international renters

With Rent Coverage from TheGuarantors, we can serve as an international renter’s guarantor. This way, you can approve and convert more renters (whether they’re U.S. citizens or not) while protecting yourself against losses resulting from rent defaults, vacancies, lease breaks, holdovers, damages, and more.

Our customizable coverage terms reduce bad debt, increase your net operating income, and stabilize your bottom line, without increasing your operating expenses. 

Prefer to run a credit check? We offer a clever alternative later in this post.

Deposit coverage for international renters

Like rent coverage, Security Deposit Replacement from TheGuarantors eases the financial burden on international renters without increasing your operating expenses. Rather than paying a full cash deposit upfront, they pay one small fee. This reduces their move-in costs and gives you protection to cover damages.

In most states, our deposit coverage is effective for the life of a tenancy, meaning renters only pay once, no matter how long they stay in your apartments. We also offer customer support seven days a week, in six languages.

Plus, along with being the only company in our industry to work with multiple A-rated carriers, we also launched our own captive insurance company to take on some of the risk ourselves.

And with a 99% property operator retention rate and more than $2 billion in rent and deposits insured, it’s clear our model is working.

Reducing risk while approving international students

Students in particular are less likely to have established incomes, credit, and savings for security deposits.

But, not surprisingly, a fair amount of international residents come here for school: 

Fortunately, our rent and deposit coverage products are also helpful with renting to students.

Consider B.HOM Student Housing as a case study. The company has more than 75 years of experience managing 30,000 beds, near 26 universities, across the country.

During the pandemic, when states enforced lockdowns and many schools switched to remote learning, we secured $8 million in rent and deposits for B.HOM, helping the operator sign more than 1,200 additional leases, with less risk and without any increase to their operating expenses.

For more tips on leasing to this market, check out our post on approving student renters with less risk

Checking international renters’ finances

If you can’t run a credit check, there are other ways to verify an international applicant’s finances.

These include: 

  • Bill statements: Phone, utilities, and any other monthly bills, whether from this country or another, can indicate their ability to make on-time payments 
  • Bank account statements: This can be from a foreign bank or a U.S. bank if they have an income established here
  • Pay stubs: Applicants currently employed in the United States should provide two recent pay stubs to verify their income

Require references from international renters

They may not be from this country, but international renters should still be able to provide references.

Consider asking for a:  

  • Credit reference: A person or business that has a relationship with the applicant and can vouch for their financial responsibility 
  • Landlord reference: If the tenant has rented previously, ask to connect with a former property owner
  • Employer reference: Current U.S. employers can verify an applicant’s job title, length of employment, and salary 

Don’t let risk keep you from the opportunity presented by international renters. Our products, together with a handful of robust screening methods, can open your doors to this plentiful market.