How Well Does Your Tenant Score on Different Background Checks?

By 21st May 2013Blog

You’ve interviewed a candidate for your apartment and have reviewed his or her application. You’ve taken the time beforehand to prepare a lengthy questionnaire; you’ve asked lots of questions and there’s a great deal of information to go through. You now realize that you’ll have to confirm what is on the application—not only is that a lot of work, you might not be sure how to proceed. There’s much you need to be certain of about the applicant before renting your apartment to him or her. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that many landlords neither have the time nor skill to dig up all the relevant information.

That’s why you should turn to a professional screening service such as to get you started in the right direction. The first thing to find out about is the tenant’s credit. A landlord credit check will give you an insight into the financial state of a prospective tenant. Does he or she have a lot of creditors? Has there been a bankruptcy or is there a lot of debt being carried? If so, these are good reasons not to rent your unit to this applicant.

By looking into the applicant’s address history you will discover a great deal about how the applicant was as a tenant. Information uncovered includes: the relationship with previous landlords; whether rental payments were made in full and on time; the relationship with other tenants; the history of disputes or violations; whether the rental unit was kept clean and orderly; if the unit was used to conduct a business (legal or otherwise); whether visitors came and went at all hours or disturbed other tenants; if “guests” stayed for extended periods; whether there were many parties, or the playing of music at high volume; and if the tenant brought in pets that were prohibited by the terms of the lease.

Did problems arise that led to eviction? And how often did a tenant simply break a lease and move away? Keep in mind in this scenario it may have been owing to negligence on the part of the landlord for failing to maintain the rental unit and/or property, and the tenant chose to withhold rent and voluntarily vacate the premises rather than remain there. If you are a landlord who takes good care of your rental properties, then there might be no risk in considering an applicant who has broken leases in the past.

More unsavory details can be uncovered. For example, applicants with extensive and varied criminal backgrounds who have every intention of using their newfound apartment as a base for their criminal operation. In this category are sex offenders; assuredly the last thing you want to do is to unwittingly allow a sex offender into one of your rental units and endanger the welfare of children in the building or neighborhood. Also not to be overlooked are white-collar crimes, such as the creation of false identities through Social Security number fraud. These criminals will enter into negotiations with you knowing that all the information they provide will check out. They have deceived many other landlords in the past and as a consequence are adept at projecting themselves as responsible and likable tenants.

The point here is that there are various pitfalls to watch out for during the tenant approval process. You can take on the screening process yourself, but just one misstep, such as an overlooked statement or a phone call that you didn’t make, can lead to great legal, financial, and emotional damage being done by a tenant. It is for this reason that professional assistance is necessary and available from Bear in mind that many rental applicants are counting on you not to be thorough so that they can get into a rental unit and take advantage of you. Only through landlord background checks, and in particular the landlord credit check, can you take the necessary steps to protect yourself.