Property Management, Tenant Selection, Real Estate News & Tips

Tenant Screening, The Importance of The Background Check

By on May 5, 2015 in Education with 2 Comments

80075528Having a set tenant screening criteria in place will help ensure that your tenants will not be contributing to the crime rate in the neighborhood. The background check searches nationwide criminal records, Nationwide Sex Offender search, and Nationwide Inmate Records search. In my opinion one of the biggest reasons, from a purely business standpoint to not want someone with a criminal record renting from you is that someone with a criminal record likely won’t care if an eviction is added to their record eliminating the leverage we as landlords have. In addition to that people with criminal records don’t follow the law/rules, we want tenants that follow the rules as sort forth in the lease. I do know that not all people with a criminal record are bad people and many people do reform their life for the better.

Renting to people with a criminal record is particularly troublesome when renting out a multifamily home or apartment building. Renting to someone with a criminal background could put the other tenants safety or belongings in jeopardy. In addition, if you have a single family home it doesn’t have a big impact on you if the neighbors move away because of your tenant but in a multifamily situation if others start moving out it has a significant impact on you. Even in a single family home situation if the neighborhood is less liveable or desired then that drives the rent and home values down. Not all criminals are bad people; for instance an 18 year old boy could be registered as a sex offender because he had a girlfriend that was 17, if you ever filed your taxes incorrectly (mistakenly or not) you could be a criminal, if you borrowed your parents or a friends car without permission you could be criminally charged. Not all criminal charges are created equally and some things could be in the prospective tenants past so it’s important to set your criteria (in writing) of what is acceptable and what is not.


The Pre-Screening

When a prospective tenant turns in the application and there application indicates that they do not have any criminal history I tend to want to believe them. Many times I’ll do some of my own homework before I send the money on a background check. A quick search on the internet will often reveal a lot about a person. You can search for arrests, check out there social media presence, and verify some of the information on the application. If things don’t add up you may want to save the $40 and deny the applicant, making sure that they have breached one of the screening criterion. Perhaps the criteria about providing false information if applicable.

Acquiring Your Criminal Report

Many landlords don’t know how to go about running a background check on someone and some want to give people the benefit of a doubt and assume that people are inherently good. This way of thinking has gotten me in trouble a time or two and is a bad way to do business. It’s important to make sure you are getting the information needed. It’s important to get criminal data from all of the states that the applicant has lived in, that’s why I use a nationwide search to make sure I have all the information available to me. In some cases the data is not always up to date or100% accurate so it’s important to use a reliable screening service. It doesn’t do you any good to pull a state report on the state they are currently living in or worse yet the state they are moving into (duh). In addition a national report can provide you with criminal acts that may have occurred while they were out of their home state.

Search at Your Local Court

Making a trip to the local courthouse for people that have resided in your home state can provide you with the most current information on the prospective tenant available. Some States have quite a bit of this data available online while some states you have to physically go down to the courthouse. If you do go to the actual courthouse you can get all sorts of information on the prospective tenant. All cases filed against them whether they have been dismissed or not, their address, all civil and criminal actions filed, etc.

Are there any other ways to find an applicants criminal background then what I’ve discussed here?

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About the Author

About the Author: Dulcey is both a private landlord and media contributor for Rentec Direct. Her passion is to bring up to date, useful information front-and-center for property managers and landlords. .

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  1. Jane says:

    I wish more landlords read articles like this. Sometimes, property owner rent out not the whole house, but separate rooms. So they have to be sure that every tenant is reliable, and other tenants are safe. Technology development makes the process of running background checks much faster.

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