In today’s ever evolving society, there are many factors you must consider in order to find a tenant that is going to meet your leasing standards. Factors such as prospective tenant’s prior credit, background/criminal history, and prior rental history should be examined closely.
There are several background screening techniques that can be used. Most of them can be expedited and accessible to you within minutes. Let’s look into some of these key steps you can take to ensure your safety when renting your home. The most important things to look into are:
- Credit Check: A lot of landlords make the mistake of not checking a prospective tenant’s credit history. Not knowing prior financial behavior is going to hurt more often than not. After all, what a tenant has done in the past is a good indication of what they will do in the future.
Example: let’s say tenant, John Smith, comes to rent from Landlord Jones who is charging $1,300 a month for rental of his home. Tenant Smith fills out a standard rental application leaving blank any financial questions such as; have you ever declared bankruptcy, foreclosure, or had a judgment or lien placed against you? Have you had any accounts charged off as bad debt within the last 7 years? Upon receipt of Smith’s credit check, Jones finds that Smith had a foreclosure on a $150,000 mortgage with monthly payments of $1,200. Based on this information, Smith would obviously not be a good Tenant match for Landlord Jones.
This is just one common example, but you can see how poor payment history can be a serious red flag in any landlord’s decision. Fortunately, obtaining a credit check through a tenant screening company is an easy process for landlords and real estate agents.
- Eviction Search: An eviction occurs when a landlord is forced to remove a tenant from the premises. This is usually due to nonpayment of rent, but there are various other circumstances that can lead to evictions. Evictions can be very costly for you, the landlord. Not only are you missing out on rent payments during the process but, lawyer’s fees, court costs, and property damage can add up quickly. Getting an eviction search is highly recommended and it is a very simple and low cost search to perform.
- Criminal Record Search: A criminal search can be a good indication of what a tenant’s behavior will be like while in your building. The extra cost of getting a criminal search is definitely worth the benefits. One of the main benefits is the peace of mind knowing your tenant does not have a history of theft, violence, or vandalism. Of course, people can turn over a new leaf and find themselves rectified from all previous transgressions and behaviors. However, when renting out your property, it is always best to find the option with the least amount of risk. The landlord can still be held liable for a lot of what goes on in the residence during the tenant’s occupancy. As an added benefit, most criminal searches also scan the sex offender databases. If an individual has ever been convicted of a sexual offense, they will be listed online under Megan’s Law . Again, knowing what a person has done in the past will always help to guide you in your decision making process.
- List of other searches you may want to consider.
- a. SSN Verification
- b. Prior names and addresses
- c. employment verification (companies that do this for you usually have do do this manually so I would recommend doing this one yourself)
The main reason for these searches is to verify that the individual is who they say they are and are not using a fraudulent Social Security Number or stolen identity.
Screening tenants is essentially a free service. A lot of landlords charge an application fee for their property to cover the cost of the tenant background check. This has two main advantages. The first is that potential tenants who know they are going to fail a credit or background check usually just walk away and you won’t have to deal with that complication. The second advantage, of course, is knowing that you have a good tenant match for your rental.
I hope you find you can use this information to your advantage.