1. Required First Step in Application
All Rental Customers are required to complete and submit the Pre-Application Disclosures Form before proceeding with the next steps of the Application. That form is the first step in the Lease Application process and part of the Application. (Effective 10/16/2020)
2. Agency Disclosure
A. Birmingham Home Leasing, hereinafter referred to as “Broker”, is the Single Agent of the Property Owner. The Broker shall serve as a Transaction Broker for the Rental Customer, assisting the Rental Customer with the Lease Application and the execution of the Lease.
B. Many of the Property Owner’s interests are reflected in the terms and conditions found below. When the interests of the Rental Customer and the Property Owner do not align, it is the legal duty of the Broker to protect the Property Owner’s interests.
3. The Broker Acknowledges No Duty or Obligation to Accept Documents from the Applicant or Third Parties Commenting on Information Currently Showing in the Applicant’s Credit/Background Report
The Applicant’s credit report, background report, or credit history (“Credit Report”) may show negative information upon which the Broker bases a decision to deny Applicant’s Application. Applicant is responsible for ensuring that Applicant’s Credit Report accurately reflects the information relative to Applicant at the time the Application is submitted. Broker cannot and will not receive or consider information contrary to or challenging negative entries on Applicant’s Credit Report, either prior to or after Broker makes a decision on Applicant’s Application and submits an Adverse Action Notice. Applicant understands that Broker will refer only to the Credit Report in reviewing Applicant’s Application and will not receive or consider documentation outside of the Credit Report. In the event Applicant disagrees with information reflected on Applicant’s Credit Report, Applicant may refer to applicable federal law regarding Applicant’s ability to challenge or correct Applicant’s Credit Report by challenging specific negative information with the Credit Reporting Agencies or prior creditors. Broker is not an attorney, is not offering legal advice, and suggests that Applicant consult with an attorney regarding Applicant’s rights to challenge negative information on the Credit Report. More information may be found here: www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/disputing-errors-your-credit-reports
4. Rental Customers and/or Applicants Who Want to Request an Exception to the Broker’s Published Policies
A. Our policy is to provide real estate leasing services in strict compliance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, and only to Applicants who can clearly demonstrate that they qualify on the Published Minimum Requirements for Lease Application Approval. (Revised 8/2/2021)
B. Broker is authorized by Owner to deal with Applicant with regard to all aspects of the Property and the application process. To prevent confusion and to preserve the line of communication, Applicants will not have the option to communicate directly with Owner. All communications to Owner are to go through Broker in this capacity, and Broker will relay Applicant’s communications and requests after which Broker will act upon Owner’s responses. In the situation where the Applicant is requesting that the Owner grant an exception to the Broker’s published criteria and the Owner does not reply within 7 calendar days, the answer will be considered to be in the negative and the matter will be closed. (Revised 1/5/2022)
C. In the situation where the Broker forwards a request to the Owner from a Rental Customer to make an exception to published criteria for Lease Application approval, the Broker is not making an implicit or explicit affirmation that Broker will be able to agree to facilitate the exception. Broker’s policies and published criteria are important, have been developed carefully, and are applied uniformly. In the event an exception is requested by Rental Customer and permitted by Owner with which Broker disagrees, Broker reserves the right to withdraw from the relationship among Rental Customer and Owner to allow Rental Customer and Owner to reach agreement between themselves as desired. (Effective 2/27/2022)
5. Rental Arbitrage, Sub-leasing, Assignment, etc. Strictly Prohibited.
Tenant shall not sublet, under-lease, sub-rent, sub-lease, offer rooms for rent, or otherwise take on occupants not identified in this Lease. Tenant shall not offer any portion of the premises for a sublease by placing on the same any “to rent”, “furnished room”, “room to rent”, or similar sign or notice or by advertising the same in any newspaper, on any short-term rental website such as VRBO or AirBnB, or any place or manner whatsoever. Any arrangement listed above or any other transfer or assignment of this lease, shall be null and void at the option of the Landlord. Tenant agrees that the breach of this provision shall be considered a material noncompliance with the terms of this lease, entitling Landlord to deliver written notice to terminate this lease pursuant to Alabama law. (Revised 11/16/2021)
6. Lease Terms for Approximately 12 Months Unless Otherwise Stated
A. The Broker writes Leases for approximate 12 month Lease terms which do not automatically convert to a month-to-month agreement after the initial term. In order for the Tenant to remain in the premises after the expiration of the initial term, the two parties must enter into a new written agreement. The Broker does not write Leases for extended terms (more than approximately 18 months).
7. All Lease Signatories Must Personally Visit the Property & Approve Its Condition
All Prospective Tenants must personally visit the property and approve its condition before the Broker will prepare and present a Lease for signature. This policy applies to all Prospective Tenants, including both spouses of a married couple and individuals moving from out of town or out of state who do not want to travel to the Birmingham area to view rental properties before executing a Lease. Viewing by a third party, including a Real Estate Agent, friend, family member or viewing by video conference, will not be accepted by the Broker in lieu of personal visit by all Signatories. (Revised 2/3/2022)
8. How the Broker Presents Applications to the Owner & How a Rental Customer can Secure a Property & Take If Off the Market
The Broker will not forward an Incomplete Application to the Owner for consideration. The Rental Customer cannot put a “hold” on a property by beginning an Application. The Broker presents completed Lease Applications to the Owner in the order that they are completed, not the order that they are started. All properties remain on the market until the Rental Customer has viewed a property, obtained Application approval and requested a Lease to sign for immediate execution. Then the property status shall be changed to “pending” for no more than three business days. If the Rental Customer does not meet their three business days signing deadline, the property will go back on the market. (Revised 5/16/2022)
9. No Pre-Paid Leases
The Broker strictly prohibits the execution of a partially or full pre-paid Lease. (Revised 11/2/2021)
10. About Pending, Active and/or Recently Discharged Bankruptcies
Applicants presenting an Application while a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is pending will be automatically declined. Applicants presenting an Application with an active Chapter 13 Bankruptcy will be automatically declined. Applicants presenting an Application who have recently had a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 discharged will not automatically be declined, but must meet the minimum Lease Application approval requirements, including having a FICO® Score 8 credit score of at least 670 (average of all three bureaus). (Revised 1/2/2022)
11. About Evictions & Repossessions
Applicants applying with evictions and/or repossessions in their history will be automatically declined by the Broker. The term “eviction” shall refer to, but not be limited to unlawful detainer, ejectment, forcible entry, etc. (Revised 7/10/2021)
12. Authorized User Policy aka “piggybacking”
When an individual is made an Authorized User on another individual’s credit card or revolving credit account their credit score may be positively affected if the Primary Cardholder has good or excellent credit. Individuals with good credit sell Authorized User access to their credit cards and revolving credit accounts commercially and the practice is sometimes referred to as “piggybacking”. The Broker is aware that piggybacking is legal, but the Broker and other lenders consider this to be a deceptive practice. When a review of the Applicant’s credit report reveals that 50% or more of the Applicant’s total credit card limit and/or revolving credit limit is supplied by being an Authorized User on another individual’s credit card(s) and/or revolving credit account(s) and that individual is not a spouse, then the Broker will automatically decline the Application and issue an Adverse Action Notice. (Revised 1/12/2022)
13. Minimum Requirements for Lease Application Approval
If there are any technical clarifications or exceptions to requirements, rules, or policies, they will be indicated with an asterisk* and explained at the bottom of this page. These clarifications and/or exceptions constitute new policy.
A. CITIZEN OR LEGAL RESIDENT: All Applicants must be legal residents of the United States. All Applicants will be asked if they are a United States Citizen, a permanent resident alien, a non-permanent resident alien, or an illegal alien. If the Applicant declares they are a permanent or non-permanent resident alien, they must provide supporting documents. If the Applicant fails to provide the required proof, then their Application will be declined. If the Applicant declares that they are an illegal alien, then their Application will be declined. (Revised 7/7/2022)
B. CURRENT IRS TAX RETURNS REQUIRED: All Applicants are required to supply their complete IRS Tax Return from the most recent IRS filing period and the previous IRS filing period. Some Applicants may be required to supply additional IRS documents depending on their source of income. When the IRS documents supplied do not have obvious or apparent evidence of processing, then the Applicant must go online to IRS.gov to download their tax transcript from the most recent IRS filing period and forward that to the Broker. Tax filing extensions will not be accepted. (Revised 6/32/2022)
C. CREDIT SCORE: Some consumer credit reports use the FICO® algorithm to compute credit scores and some do not. The majority of lenders use FICO® credit scores. Many FICO® credit scores are optimized according to specific industries. According to information found at myFICO.com, the most widely used FICO® version is Score 8, which all three Bureaus have. The Broker will “pull” the Applicant’s FICO® Score 8 credit report from all three Bureaus and average the scores. The average score must be at least 670. It is the Applicant’s responsibility to know their own credit score before applying and to know if the credit score is FICO® Score 8. Applicants are advised this is a “hard rule” and exceptions will not be granted, if requested. Applicants who do not have a U.S. Credit File with a Qualifying 3 Bureau Average Credit Score will receive an Adverse Action Notice if they submit an Application. (Revised 6/28/2022)
D. REQUIRED RATIOS TO DEMONSTRATE FINANCIAL CAPACITY TO PAY RENT: It is possible to demonstrate financial capacity to pay rent if you are employed and meet certain income and debt ratios or if you are non-employed and can meet certain asset and debt ratios.
i. INCOME TO RENT RATIO: Many rental companies require a gross income to rent ratio of 3 to 1 (33%). Due to the recent increase in the inflation rate, the Broker requires all Applicants to have a gross income to rent ratio of 3.5 to 1 (28.5%).
ii. DEBT TO INCOME RATIO: The Broker will collect information on the Applicant’s monthly recurring liabilities from sources including but not limited to the Applicant’s credit report. The Broker will also add the monthly rent for the subject property to that information and the total cannot exceed 43% of the Applicant’s documented monthly gross income.
a. DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYED APPLICANTS: (Revised 4/23/2022) We have adapted the following FHA guidelines for qualifying employed individuals for a mortgage to qualify employed individuals for Lease Application approval. In summary, employed Applicants must document effective income for the most recent two full years. Additional conditions apply and include but are not limited to:
- The Applicant must explain any gaps in employment that span one or more months
- The Applicant must indicate if he/she was in school or the military during the most recent two full years, providing evidence supporting this claim
- The Broker may make allowances for seasonal employment, typical for the building trades and agriculture, if documented
- The Broker will analyze the probability of continued employment based on: the Applicant’s past employment record, the Applicant’s qualification for the position, previous training and education, and the Applicant’s employer’s confirmation of continued employment
- The Broker may favorably consider the Application if the Applicant changes jobs frequently within the same line of work, but continues to advance in income or benefits. In this analysis, income stability takes precedence over job stability.
- The Applicant’s income may be considered effective and stable when recently returning to work after an extended absence if he/she: is employed in the current job for six months or longer, and can document a two year work history prior to an absence from employment
- The amount by which the Applicant’s automobile allowance or expense account payments exceed actual expenditures may be considered income. To establish the amount to add to gross income, the Applicant must provide IRS Form 2106, Employee Business Expenses, for the previous two years, and employer verification that the payments will continue. If the Applicant uses the standard per-mile rate in calculating automobile expenses, as opposed to the actual cost method, the portion that the IRS considers depreciation may be added back to income.
b. DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS FOR SELF-EMPLOYED APPLICANTS: (Revised 4/25/2022) We have adapted the following FHA guidelines for qualifying self-employed individuals for a mortgage to qualify self-employed individuals for Lease Application approval. In summary, self-employed Applicants must document effective income by being self-employed for the most recent two or more years. Applicants with a 25% or greater ownership in a business are considered self employed. Additional conditions apply and include but are not limited to:
- If the period of self-employment is between one and two years, the Applicant must have at least two years of documented previous successful employment in the line of work in which he/she is self employed, or in a related occupation. A combination of one year of employment and formal education or training in the line of work in which the individual is self-employed or in a related occupation is also acceptable.
- Self-employed Applicants must provide signed, dated individual tax returns, with all applicable tax schedules for the most recent two years; for a corporation, “S” corporation, or partnership, signed copies of Federal business income tax returns for the last two years, with all applicable tax schedules; and a year-to-date profit and loss (P&L) statement and balance sheet.
- The Broker will establish the Applicant’s earnings trend from the previous two years using the borrower’s tax returns. If the Applicant provides quarterly tax returns, the income analysis may include income through the period covered by the tax filings, or if the Applicant is not subject to quarterly tax returns, or does not file them, then the income shown on the P&L statement may be included in the analysis, provided the income stream based on the P&L is consistent with the previous years’ earnings. If the P&L statements submitted for the current year show an income stream considerably greater than what is supported by the previous year’s tax returns, the Broker will base the income analysis solely on the income verified through the tax returns. If the Applicant’s earnings trend for the previous two years is downward and the most recent tax return or P&L is less than the prior year’s tax return, the Applicant’s most recent year’s tax return or P&L will be used to calculate his/her income.
- To determine if the Applicant’s business is expected to generate sufficient income for his/her needs, the Broker will consider it acceptable if their annual earnings are stable or increasing, while businesses that show a significant decline in income over the analysis period are not acceptable, even if the current income and debt ratios meet guidelines.
- Depreciation or depletion indicated on tax returns may be added back to the adjusted gross income.
c. ABOUT COMPLEX TAX FILINGS: The Broker does not acknowledge a duty to the Applicant to advocate for them or explain complex tax documents to the Property Owner. When the Broker deems that an Applicant’s tax filings are beyond the ability of an Owner to evaluate, then the Broker will recommend that the Applicant provide an email from their tax preparer explaining their income. (Revised 5/16/2022)
d. INDIVIDUALS QUALIFYING ON NON-RECURRING INCOME AND/OR LIQUID ASSETS: Individuals who would like to demonstrate financial capacity to pay rent (without recurring income) must declare and document non-recurring income and/or liquid assets of at least 25 times the amount of their annual debt load. Annual debt load is calculated by adding the monthly debt obligations in the Applicant’s credit report, plus the rent and multiplying that figure by 12. Liquid assets are defined as savings accounts, retirement accounts, stocks, etc. and any asset that is easily converted to cash. For the purposes of declaring and documenting assets for a Lease Application with Birmingham Home Leasing, real estate and cryptocurrency are not considered a liquid asset. Personal Financial Statements, including CPA prepared and/or audited Financial Statements, will not be accepted as documentation for liquid assets. (Revised 11/2/2021)
e. INDIVIDUALS QUALIFYING WITH A COMBINATION OF RECURRING INCOME PLUS LIQUID ASSETS: If you are attempting to apply to lease a property with a combination of recurring income and liquid assets please call the Broker for details as this is a complicated issue. The issue is so complicated that the Broker must pull your credit report(s) before he can calculate the liquid assets required for qualification. For the purpose of establishing a published policy, the Broker sets forth the following. The Broker will first calculate your annual debt to income ratio based off of your recurring income. The Broker will also calculate how much liquid assets you would be required to document if you were qualifying on liquid assets alone (25 x Annual Debt). For every 1% that your annual debt to income ratio exceeds the 43% limit, you must document 1% of the total of liquid assets you would be required to document if you were qualifying on liquid assets alone.
The following example assumes an Applicant applying for a property that rents for $2,000 per month. The Broker adds up all their monthly debt obligations in their credit report and it totals $1,000. The Applicant documents $48,000 in annual recurring income. This would calculate a debt to income ratio of 75%, which is 32% over the maximum allowed of 43%. If the Applicant was qualifying on liquid assets alone, they would need to document at least $900,000. To compensate for the lack of sufficient recurring income, this Applicant must document at least 32% of $900,000 or at least $288,000. (Revised 4/20/2022)
E. BANK ACCOUNT STATEMENTS ARE REQUIRED TO BE TRANSFERRED VIA A THIRD PARTY: There are websites that make it easy to facilitate fraudulent pay stubs and bank statements. The Broker has a responsibility to use the most up to date and effective processes and practices to protect his Client (the Landlord). The Federal Trade Commission also prescribes duties and responsibilities to credit processors to publish their policies and procedures to detect fraud. For this reason, the Broker employs checking the Applicant’s bank account transcript(s) via a third party by the name of “The Closing Docs”. By doing this, the Broker can effectively substantiate supplied pay stubs and reasonably verify the Applicant’s identity. Applicants requesting an exception to this policy by supplying paper bank statements will be denied. Any Applicant requesting relief from supplying their bank account transcripts via The Closing Docs will be denied. (Revised 4/4/2022)
F. DEFINING CONDITIONS CONDITIONS THAT CAN EXIST ON AN APPLICATION THAT MEETS THE MINIMUM PUBLISHED OBJECTIVE CRITERIA FOR APPROVAL, BUT THE LANDLORD RESERVES THE RIGHT TO DECLINE THE APPLICATION: (Revised 1/2/2022)
i. The Applicant’s Rent to Gross Income Ratio is between 28.6% and 28.9%.
ii. The Applicant’s Debt to Gross Income Ratio is between 43.1% and 43.9%.
iii. The Applicant provides IRS 1040 for the most recent tax filing period indicating a tax liability in excess of 10% of the Adjusted Gross Income and the Applicant does not provide proof that the tax liability has been paid.
iv. In the situation where a Divorce Decree assigns mortgage payment responsibility to an ex-spouse and the Credit Report still indicates “joint responsibility” and the inclusion of the mortgage payment would make the Applicant’s Gross Debt to Gross Income Ratio in excess of 43.9%.
G. TOTAL OF ALL PAST DUE ACCOUNTS: If the total of all past due accounts showing in the Applicant’s credit report exceed the amount of one month’s rent, the Broker will decline the Application and issue an Adverse Action Notice. (Revised 7/9/2021)
H. WHO IS REQUIRED TO PRESENT A JOINT APPLICATION: Both Spouses of married couples must apply. The Broker has a duty in the Rental Listing Agreement with the Landlord to check credit scores, check for account delinquencies, and calculate “Joint” Rent to Income Ratios and “Joint” Debt to Income Ratios. This cannot be accomplished without the Broker seeing the credit report of both spouses. (Revised 10/2/2020)
I. RENTAL CUSTOMERS APPLYING WHEN A DIVORCE IS PENDING: When a Rental Customer presents a Lease Application while a divorce is pending, the non-occupying spouse will be required to present an Application and sign a Cosigner Agreement. (Effective 10/2/2020)
J. NO COMBINED INCOME QUALIFICATION FOR UNMARRIED COUPLES OR UNMARRIED FAMILY MEMBERS: Unmarried couples and unmarried family members cannot qualify collectively on the income requirement the same as a married couple can when they present a Joint Application.
K. NO COSIGNERS: (Revised 10/2/2020) Generally speaking, all Prospective Tenants must be able to qualify without the assistance of a Cosigner. There are three exceptions to this rule:
- NON-OCCUPYING SPOUSE COSIGNING LEASE: See Section 13.I. above.
- PERSONAL GUARANTEE OF A BUSINESS ENTITY OR CORPORATE LEASE: When a Principal of a Business requests that a Residential Lease indicate their Business or Corporation as the “Tenant”, but the Business or Corporation cannot document financial capacity to make Lease payments and the Principal will occupy the premises, then the Principal of the Business or Corporation may personally guarantee the Lease if they can qualify on the Published Minimum Requirements for Lease Application Approval.
- BUSINESS ENTITY OR CORPORATION GUARANTEEING LEASE: Business entities or Corporations that can demonstrate financial capacity to pay rent can lease property for their Employees in certain cases. Landlords are not required by law to consider Corporate Leases, so the Landlord would have to agree to consider a Corporate Lease offer.
L. NO ROOMMATES: The Broker will not lease to roommates.
This disclosure is not set forth as legal advice. The Broker is not an Attorney and is not issuing legal advice in this disclosure. To obtain legal advice on this subject, please consult with an Attorney.
For the purpose of this disclosure, the term “roommates” shall not apply to two individuals presenting as an “unmarried couple”. The term “roommates” shall apply to unrelated individuals occupying a single family property.
This policy becomes effective March 3, 2020 and changes the previous policy (effective October 16, 2019) which allowed for leasing to roommates limited to the applicable local jurisdictional zoning code. It is the Broker’s understanding that most municipalities in the Birmingham Metro Area limit the number of roommates to no more than two. The Broker is aware of one exception, being Homewood, which allows no more than three.
It is the Broker’s observation that Federal Fair Housing Laws do not specify roommates as a protected class. Therefore, the Broker acknowledges no affirmative duty to accommodate roommates. (Revised 11/3/2021)
M. NO MORE THAN ONE FAMILY PER HOME: For the purpose of this disclosure, a “family” shall be defined as a group residing together and consisting of parents, children, and other relatives by blood or marriage. The Broker and the Landlord retain the right of freedom of contract to lease with whomever we want as long as it is not for a discriminatory reason against a protected class. Two or more families residing in one home are not a protected class. It shall be the Broker’s policy not to rent to more than one family per residence.
14. Background Reports
In addition to the Broker pulling Applicants’ credit reports, the Broker will also pull a credit report and background reports, including but not limited to, nationwide criminal history reports, on all Applicants and on all occupants age 19 and older. Occupants 19+ years old who are not Applicants will be required to sign a consent form and pay a $55 fee. (Revised 7/6/2022)
15. Other Issues for which the Broker may Decline the Application
There are other issues not included above in Sections 1 through 14 for which the Broker may decline an Application depending on the issue’s status. When delinquencies remain unsatisfied and are in an amount equal to or greater than one month’s rent, the Broker will decline the Application. These delinquencies include, but are not limited to:
- Charged Off Accounts
- Collections, including medical collections
- Child Support
- Delinquent past or present rental obligations
- Delinquency Judgments for Short Sales and/or Foreclosures
16. Issues to be Decided by the Landlord, Not the Broker
A. DOCUMENTATION OF INCOME FROM LEASED PROPERTY: The Landlord is not obligated to accept the Applicant’s additional income from Leases at “face value”. It’s not reasonable to assume that Leased property will have no rental loss due to vacancies in between Tenants or will not have maintenance and repair costs.
B. POLICY REGARDING APPLICANTS WITH CRIMINAL HISTORY: The Broker and the Landlord do not have a policy that mandates an automatic rejection for Applicants with a felony conviction in their Background Report. The Landlord evaluates Applicants with felony convictions on a case by case basis.
17. Technical Exceptions & Clarifications to Stated Rules & Requirements
A. SPOUSES WHO HAVE A CREDIT FILE WITH NO CREDIT SCORE: In some cases, one spouse of a married couple may have a Qualifying Credit Score while the other spouse may not have a Credit File or a Credit File with a Credit Score. The decision on whether to accept a Joint Application from a married couple when one spouse does not have a Credit File or a Credit File with a Credit Score is the decision of the Landlord.
B. APPLICANTS WHO MAY NOT HAVE A CREDIT SCORE WITH ALL 3 BUREAUS: (Revised 1/12/2022) If an Applicant does not have a second and/or a third Bureau credit file and score, it will not automatically decline the Application if the Broker deems that it is reasonable that the Applicant may be initially building their credit history. However, if the credit file depth is inconsistent with the Applicant’s profile, then the Broker may:
- Issue an “Adverse Impact Notice” requesting additional information to potentially resolve the Red Flag issue.
- Issue an Adverse Action Notice.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The Broker is not an Attorney. None of the Broker’s Agents are Attorneys. The Broker or his Agents do not provide legal services or legal advice. If you have questions about your rights and responsibilities as a Rental Customer, Applicant, or Tenant, please consult with an Attorney.