You need to do what is best for your birds! Go with what makes you feel best. Do you know if he has permission from his landlord to have the chickens? That would really worry me...and the fact that he may not have the money to care for them correctly. Good luck! Do what you feel is best.
If you want to back out on the deal, put it squarely on yourself. Say you changed your mind and aren't selling at this time. What I would not do is to tell him that he's not good enough to buy your chicks. That only causes hurt feelings and gives him something to argue with you about.
Just lie. Tell him your parents or sister or whatever wants them instead. Tell him they came down with a case of _______ (fill in the blank) and they have to be treated with some really expensive something-or-other for the next 4 weeks. Just make something up. Trust your intuition.
I've heard of making people sign contracts when they buy from them. An example of a part of the contract would be- if he is unable to care for the animals then he can not sell them, that he has to return them to you.
I wouldn't worry too much about renting. Or at least I wouldn't hold that against him. You could also make him show a letter from his landlord stating chickens are approved on the property.
The steady income is worrisome though. That's your call.
I know plenty of people with no steady income (me) who take darn good care of their chickens. I also know several people who rent (my other chicken loving friend) and her landlord loves it that she keeps chickens on the property. You never really can judge a book by it's intro
If this person is in your poultry swap group, then I highly recommend not lying to him. If you lie - then you have to remember things. And if you mess that up, then who knows how far that would go in your poultry group. If I were you - I'd go do a little more investigating on that gut feeling you're having (whatever it may be) because there's a lot to be said for intuition. There's NOTHING wrong with saying you're really picky about where your "babies" go - and you'd like to know what kind of accommodations they will have. Always give the other person an easy out if you think they may be unable to care for them - like Eris suggested, let him know the chicks can come back home if the situation changes.
Good gracious folks, what's wrong with the truth? The seller doesn't feel as though this gentleman has the means nor income to properly care for the chickens. Folks do the same the dogs and horses all the time. Why would it be any different with the chickens? Go look at the facilities he has available and just see what his abilities are.
The truth is always the way to go. Whether it hurts or not, never lie. that's hurts you and your character.
I guess I'm just seeing this differently. I know that a lot of folks around here have started trying to garden and raise backyard flocks and so forth because they don't have steady incomes. Unless we're talking about show birds or exotics, I don't understand why this would be a problem. The economy has hit a lot of people hard. It doesn't mean they're irresponsible.