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Am I out of line as a renter to ask prospective landlords to show proof that their mortgage is current?

3 years ago, a friend and real estate agent of mine found us a house to rent in a really nice neighborhood for a really nice price. After living in apartments my entire life, I was thrilled to finally live in a house, even if it was just a rental.

1 month after we signed the lease and moved in, the landlord called to say the house was going to foreclosure and we should try to move right away because he wanted to do a short sell. We stood our ground and went to court with the newly enacted 2009 Tenants Right law. The law pretty much said if something like that happens we are allowed to stay for the duration of our lease. Granted we had to keep making rent payments to an escrow. I still consider that a good outcome. The judge that day was telling people they has to move in 3 days for cases similar to ours.

Luckily once our lease was up, 1 year, we were able to find another house in the same neighborhood for a little higher price but still affordable. We signed a 2 year lease and everything has gone well. Initially we asked that landlord for proof but he refused to show it. We still moved in because we wanted our kids to stay in the same school and that seemed to be the best house for the price. We also checked for the house on the foreclosure websites and it wasn't there. We also found out he was a member of our temple; which made him a little more trusting. We have just renewed for another 2 years but honestly we have outgrown this house. We see it takes nothing more than a 60 day notice and 1 extra month of rent to get out of this lease if we need too. Obviously, larger houses in this area will cost more so we want to be extra careful with that much more money.

Not saying we may even move, but if we do find a rental we like, would it be wrong to ask for proof? We are simultaneously working on our credit to buy as well. However, unless we get a windfall, I doubt we'll be able to afford to buy in this area.

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Asked by Anonymous at 12:39 AM on Oct. 8, 2012 in Home & Garden

Answers (14)
  • It doesn't seem like it should be out of line to ask a landlord for proof that the mortgage is current. Whether that has to be disclosed to you by law, I don't know. My gut reaction is ask; you might get the answer you're looking for, or you might not. But asking can't hurt, surely.

    Answer by Ballad at 12:47 AM on Oct. 8, 2012

  • The question would catch me off guard but If I wanted you as a tenant I'd show you.


    Answer by Farrahann at 12:51 AM on Oct. 8, 2012

  • I agree it can't hurt to ask.

    I could see a landlord refusing if he's charging you a lot more than what his mortgage payment is. That could lead you to arguing over the rent charge.

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 12:51 AM on Oct. 8, 2012

  • You can check online to see if that address or property owner is in the foreclosure process:


    Answer by JulieJacobKyle at 12:52 AM on Oct. 8, 2012

  • What Julie said. I would do that rather than ask if you are really interested in renting from them. Some people might not take kindly to the question even if they own the property outright.

    Answer by Dardenella at 1:16 AM on Oct. 8, 2012

  • Why not look to buy?

    Answer by PartyGalAnne at 1:21 AM on Oct. 8, 2012

  • Not at all. You have to show proof of income, the landlord should provide something as well. I'm not sure what this would be, or if the mortgage company would provide something.

    Answer by RyansMom001 at 6:25 AM on Oct. 8, 2012

  • Definitely check with a mortgage lender and see what you qualify for if you decided to buy. You might be surprised. But I don't think most renters would be willing to share their personal information. Whether they do or not IMO would be based on the rental market where you are. Can they easily rent to someone else if you don't take it? That would make a difference.

    Answer by missanc at 6:36 AM on Oct. 8, 2012

  • You can ask, but I do not think they have to provide that information to you.

    Answer by m-avi at 7:41 AM on Oct. 8, 2012

  • You can ask, but I'd be surprised if they'd show you. That is very personal information. Most people aren't going to be too willing to share that kind of info with a total stranger. Your reasons for asking are understandable, but I don't think it would be unreasonable for them to refuse either. I'd look into doing your own research to see if a place is in foreclosure, or maybe see about getting something written into your lease that says that if the house is in or goes into foreclosure, you are completely released from the lease with no further financial obligation.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 8:27 AM on Oct. 8, 2012

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