Would You Fake a Marriage to Land an Apartment?

Years ago as a single guy I was looking for a house to rent with a friend of mine. We had good jobs, good references and good credit, but no landlord would rent to us.

Eventually, we decided that despite our clean-cut appearances, landlords looked at us with the look of a parent about to leave the house for the weekend to two teenage sons. They assumed we were going to throw wild parties and trash the place.

It made us wonder if pretending to be married would help us get into a rental.
While we briefly considered pretending to be a gay couple so we could sign a lease, I started bringing my girlfriend with us on house-hunting trips in an effort to show we weren't just two wild guys, but had a responsible woman around. Eventually we found a house to rent, but I doubt if any of that helped.

So if you're thinking that pretending to be married will help you get an apartment or home to rent, it won't. Most landlords are concerned about if you pay the rent and take good care of the property, not who you sleep with.

At Nolo.com, a woman asks if she and her boyfriend should use only his last name when filling out an application. She wonders if it's legal for a landlord to refuse to rent to them if she uses her own last name.

The answer is that in a college town, where the woman lives, landlords are used to renting to unmarried couples, and that they'd have few applicants to choose from if they only rented to married couples.

A landlord's morals aside, using a boyfriend's name is a bad risk and both will eventually be found out. Most landlords run credit checks on all tenants, including both partners in a marriage, and the fake new name won't yield a report. They're also likely to talk to former employers or landlords, who won't know her by her "new" name.

Lying to a landlord is a bad idea. Eventually they're likely to hear someone call you by your real name or see a different name on your mail.

A few states make it illegal for a landlord to discriminate against married couples: Alaska, California, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Several cities have extended protection even though their states haven't.

To find out if local ordinances protect you from discrimination, start by calling your college or university's housing office.

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