Tenant screening is a must for landlords when they are about to put the house up on rent. The only way to protect your asset is by selecting the tenant carefully. The check is a great way to find out who will meet your requirement and who doesn’t. With these checks, you can verify the identity as well as credit history.
But there are several things you should know about tenant screening.
Follow the rules
The landlord-tenant act lets landlords do this, but there are rules to follow. But remember, there cannot be any discrimination based on religion, ethnicity/race, disability, national heritage, family status or gender. The same screening guidelines need to be applied for all applicants.
All background checks are not the same
There are many companies that offer tenant screening services. Some are better than others of course. Some of them will screen past address histories, past evictions, criminal records, credit reports and such others. Always ask the service provided which services are going to be carried out and included in the report before hiring.
Ask for a complete credit report
The complete report will include the FICO score, employment history, address history, public records, as well as the credit accounts of the applicant. This will give you a good idea of how the applicant has managed his or her financial obligations. Are the bills paid on time? Can the person manage to pay the rent on time? Has there ever been any filing for bankruptcy? Are there any judgments against the person? The complete credit history will help you make an informed decision.
Tenant screening should include criminal background checking
The standard credit check doesn’t include checking for criminal convictions. But you should ask for criminal background checking to protect your home, neighbors, and other tenants if you have any. This check should include sex offenses as well. You must know if the applicant has been convicted of property damage, violent crime or drug dealings ever. With these screenings, you can avoid renting out your property to those with a record.
Some tenant screening services will only cover the state. That’s not good enough. What if the person or family has lived in another state before and has a record there? Go for a service that checks the entire country. You don’t want any surprises later.
Look for false or misleading information
During tenant screening, look for such information in the application forms. Compare this form and the report filed by the tenant screening service. Verify whether the information was submitted truthfully. False information will always be a red flag. Your applicant is trying to hide something probably.
Don’t disclose private information
Never disclose what you have found in the background check. Keep it private from everyone. You can be held liable if you give it away without permission. Also, don’t divulge your own personal information too much. That is not a good idea as well.