Most landlords use tenant background checks that include credit checks, criminal history, and eviction history. These checks are used to evaluate potential tenants and ensure they are reliable and responsible renters.
As a landlord, ensuring you’re renting your property to the right tenant is essential. A tenant background check is one of the most reliable ways to verify a potential tenant’s identity and assess their rental history, creditworthiness, and criminal background.
By conducting a thorough background check, landlords can rest assured that their tenants are trustworthy and dependable.
The Different Types Of Background Checks
As a landlord or property manager, screening your tenants is an essential part of ensuring the safety and longevity of your rental property.
One critical aspect of this screening process is conducting a background check on prospective tenants.
While background checks can vary depending on the landlord or property manager’s preferences, most background checks typically consist of the following:
One of the most important things a landlord wants to know is whether their prospective tenant has a criminal history.
A criminal background check can help you determine if a tenant has a history of criminal behaviour or has been evicted from previous rentals.
- Details of any previous criminal convictions.
- Arrest records.
- Sex offender registry.
- Eviction history.
Credit History And Score
A tenant’s credit history is a critical indicator of their financial responsibility.
Conducting a credit check will give you insight into the tenant’s payment history and the likelihood of them paying rent on time.
- Current credit score.
- Late payments on credit accounts.
- Bankruptcy history.
- Credit utilization rate.
A rental history check will provide you with insights into a prospective tenant’s past performance.
- The list of previous rental properties the tenant has lived in.
- The length of their stay in previous rental properties.
- Reasons for leaving previous rental properties.
Verifying a tenant’s employment will give landlords insight into the tenant’s financial stability and ability to pay rent.
- Current employment status.
- Proof of employment.
- Income level.
- Length of time at current job.
Reference checks can help you gain information on a prospective tenant’s character and suitability.
- Previous landlord references.
- Professional references.
- Personal references.
Overall, a comprehensive background check on prospective tenants can save landlords and property managers a lot of time and headaches down the road.
By conducting due diligence and proper screening, landlords can ensure that their properties remain well-maintained, safe, and profitable.
Most Common Tenant Background Check Methods
When it comes to renting out your property, it’s essential to ensure that potential tenants are trustworthy and reliable.
This is where tenant background checks come in. Here are the most common tenant background check methods landlords use:
Online Tenant Screening Services
Online tenant screening services have become increasingly popular among landlords.
They provide a comprehensive screening process that includes credit checks, criminal history, and eviction reports.
Some of the popular online tenant screening services include Cozy, TransUnion smart move, and rent prep.
Cozy offers credit reports, criminal and eviction history, and even income verification. It’s easy to use and provides a comprehensive report in no time.
Transunion smart move
Smartmove offers a complete background check, including credit reports, criminal and eviction history reports, and income verification.
It also allows tenants to initiate the screening process, which makes it easier for both parties.
Rentprep provides a credit report, criminal and eviction history report, and also provides online tools, including a tenant application form and lease agreement.
Tenant Screening Companies
Landlords can opt to use tenant screening companies to conduct background checks on potential tenants.
These companies charge a fee to perform a background check and provide a detailed report.
Here are some tenant screening companies:
Myrental offers a screening process that includes credit reports, criminal and eviction history reports, and employment verification.
National tenant network
The national tenant network provides a comprehensive background check, including credit reports, criminal and eviction history reports, and additional screening services based on the landlord’s needs.
Rentprep offers a credit report, criminal and eviction history report, and also provides online tools, including a tenant application form and lease agreement.
Diy Tenant Screening
Landlords can also conduct background checks independently without the help of a tenant screening service.
However, it’s essential to be familiar with the state and federal laws regarding background checks to avoid legal trouble.
Here are some ways landlords can perform a DIY tenant background check:
Social media is an excellent way to get a glimpse of a potential tenant’s personality, lifestyle, and personal information.
Landlords can check public records, including court records and criminal records, to get a better understanding of the tenant’s history.
A Google search can provide valuable information on a potential tenant’s online presence.
Local Government Agencies
Local government agencies are another option for landlords to conduct background checks on potential tenants.
They provide criminal history and eviction reports for a fee. Here are some local government agencies that provide tenant background checks:
- Sheriff’s office: Some sheriff’s offices offer criminal history reports for a fee.
- Circuit court: Circuit courts also provide criminal history and eviction reports for a fee.
- Tax assessor’s office: The tax assessor’s office provides property history reports, which can be helpful to understand a potential tenant’s residence history.
Landlords’ Legal Responsibilities
Legal Requirements For Tenant Screening
Landlords have a legal obligation to carry out a background check on prospective tenants. The following are important legal requirements:
- Obtain the tenant’s consent to run a background check.
- The same screening process should be applied to everyone.
- Tenant screening should comply with the fair credit reporting act.
Fair Housing Act And Its Application To Background Checks
The fair housing act prohibits discrimination when renting, leasing, or selling properties based on characteristics such as race, gender, and religion.
When applying the act to background checks, it means that landlords should not carry out a background check that discriminates against some groups of tenants.
Avoiding Discrimination In Tenant Screening
Landlords should avoid any form of discrimination in tenant screening. Ways to avoid discrimination include:
- Ensuring that the same background check process and criteria are applied to everyone uniformly.
- Avoiding questions about race, religion, gender, and disabilities during the screening process.
- Allowing tenants to provide additional documentation for negative information.
Tenant Notification Requirements
Landlords must inform tenants of the results of a background check before taking any negative action. The notification should be in writing and should include:
- The name, address, and phone number of the screening company.
- A statement that the screening company did not make the decision to take adverse action.
- A copy of the tenant’s rights under the fair credit reporting act.
As a landlord, it is essential to understand these legal responsibilities when conducting background checks on potential tenants.
By following these rules, you get a good understanding of your potential tenant’s background without infringing on their rights.
Online Tenant Screening Services
As technology advances, many landlords are turning to online tenant screening services to make the application process more seamless. Here are the key pros and cons of using these services:
Rapid results and report delivery
Online tenant screening services often offer rapid report delivery, providing landlords with instant access to tenant background information, credit reports, and even criminal records.
These services are usually affordable and cost-effective, making them a more attractive option than traditional background checks or hiring a private investigator.
Provides detailed reports
These services provide landlords with extensive reports that can help them make informed decisions.
Reports can include details of an individual’s credit score, rental history, criminal background, employment verification, and more.
Potentially less accurate data
While online tenant screening services can provide landlords with quick results, the accuracy of the data may be questionable.
The information provided by these services may be incomplete or outdated, which can lead to errors in the screening process.
May not cover all necessary components
Some tenant screening services may not provide a comprehensive report, which can be a disadvantage for landlords.
For example, some services may not cover eviction or bankruptcy records.
Limited customer support
Finally, online tenant screening services may offer limited customer support, making it difficult for landlords to get help when they need it.
If you have questions or concerns about a report, you may not be able to get in touch with a customer service representative in a timely manner.
While there are some advantages to using online tenant screening services, landlords must also be aware of the potential drawbacks.
It’s up to each individual landlord to decide whether or not these services are a fit for their needs.
Tenant Screening Companies
As a landlord, finding the right tenant can be a challenge, and conducting a thorough background check is crucial.
Tenant screening companies can be a valuable resource for landlords in this regard. Here are some of their pros and cons.
Tenant screening companies provide a comprehensive evaluation of potential tenants.
It includes checking criminal records, credit scores, employment history, and rental history. This helps landlords make informed decisions about prospective tenants.
Tenant screening companies have extensive industry knowledge and experience.
They understand the legal requirements for tenant screening and can assist landlords in complying with federal and state laws.
Provides assistance with legal compliance
Tenant screening companies offer valuable guidance to landlords in legal compliance and regulations, helping them avoid potential lawsuits and other legal problems.
Tenant screening companies charge for their services, and the cost varies depending on the level of investigation required. This can be a hindrance for landlords with limited budgets.
Lengthy turn-around time
Tenant screening companies need time to conduct a thorough background check, which could be a problem for landlords who need to fill a vacancy quickly.
Risk of fraud and identity theft
There is a risk of fraud and identity theft if landlords use a disreputable tenant screening company. It is vital to choose a reputable and reliable service provider.
Tenant screening companies can be an excellent resource for landlords who want to conduct a comprehensive and legal background check of potential tenants.
However, they come with their own set of pros and cons, and it is crucial to assess them before making a decision.
Diy Tenant Screening
Diy tenant screening is becoming an increasingly popular option for landlords who want to save money and maintain control over the screening process.
Here are some benefits of diy tenant screening:
One of the most significant benefits of diy tenant screening is that it is typically much cheaper than hiring a professional screening service.
As a landlord, you can save money by doing the work yourself.
Control over the process
When you conduct your tenant screening, you have complete control over the process.
You can set your own criteria, and you don’t have to worry about someone else making decisions on your behalf.
No risk of fraud/identity theft
By conducting your tenant screening yourself, you can ensure that your applicants’ personal information is secure.
You won’t have to worry about providing personal data to a third-party service.
However, there are a few potential downsides to diy tenant screening that landlords need to consider:
Conducting a tenant screening on your own can be time-consuming, particularly if you have a large pool of applicants.
You’ll need to spend time reviewing applications, verifying information, and checking references.
Requires knowledge and resources
Tenant screening requires knowledge of the law and access to certain tools (such as credit reports and criminal records).
If you don’t have the resources or expertise to conduct a thorough screening, you might miss important information.
May not be fully compliant with the law
Depending on where you live, there may be specific laws or regulations that dictate what you can and can’t consider when screening tenants.
If you’re not familiar with these laws, you might inadvertently violate them.
Diy tenant screening can be an excellent choice for landlords who want to save money and maintain control over the process.
However, it’s essential to consider the potential downsides and ensure that you have the knowledge and resources necessary to conduct a thorough and compliant screening.
Local Government Agencies
As a landlord, performing background checks on potential tenants is a vital step to ensure the safety of your property and other tenants.
One of the sources from where you can obtain this information is the local government agencies. Here are some pros and cons of using this source:
Most local government agencies provide background checks for free, so you can save money while obtaining valuable information.
Official records and data
These background checks are authentic documents that contain official records and data, which provide a more accurate history of the tenant.
Compliant with legal requirements
Using government background checks can help ensure that you are complying with legal requirements, which can limit your liability in case of any unforeseen problems.
Slow turn-around time
Getting background checks through government agencies can take a long time, as they receive hundreds or thousands of requests daily.
Limited information and data
The government background checks might not provide all the necessary information that you need to make a decision about the tenant.
May not be searchable online
Some government agencies may not have an online search system in place, which can make the process cumbersome and time-consuming.
Overall, while there are some cons to using local government agencies for background checks, the pros make it a worthwhile consideration for any landlord.
Just be sure to factor in the turn-around time and the limited information that may be available.
Factors To Consider
When it comes to conducting a background check on potential tenants, there are several factors landlords should consider.
Here are the top factors to keep in mind when deciding on the right background check for your rental property.
Before deciding on a background check service, it’s essential to consider your budget. Landlords should factor in the cost per tenant, as well as any additional fees or features.
Keep in mind that more comprehensive checks will often come with a higher price tag.
Some budget-friendly background check options include:
- Online tenant screening tools that offer basic background checks and pay-as-you-go pricing.
- Credit checks, which can reveal a tenant’s financial history, for a low cost.
- Criminal record searches on a county-level basis, which are often cheaper than nationwide searches.
When searching for the right background check service, the turn-around time is crucial. Quick access to a tenant’s background can help landlords fill vacancies more efficiently.
Landlords should consider services with fast processing times, such as those that offer instant background checks.
Here are some options:
- Online tenant screening tools that offer quick results.
- Tenant screening services that have a large database for immediate nationwide searches.
- Direct searches of public records for fast retrieval of information.
Accuracy And Comprehensiveness
To make informed and safe decisions, landlords must conduct accurate and comprehensive background checks.
Choose a service that provides detailed and up-to-date information as well as guarantees accuracy. Here are the options:
- Tenant screening services that have extensive databases and use reputable sources.
- Direct searches of public records, for the most accurate and reliable information.
- Services that include a nationwide eviction report, criminal records report, and credit report for a comprehensive screening.
It is critical to ensure that the background check service chosen is in compliance with all applicable housing and anti-discrimination laws.
The law requires accuracy, confidentiality, and non-discrimination. Ensure that the service meets legal compliance.
- Tenant screening tools that adhere to the legal terms for proper compliance.
- Services that include adverse action letters to ensure compliance with the law.
- Services that offer support staff that can answer questions and provide guidance typically update their services to comply with laws and regulations.
Level Of Assistance Necessary
Consider the time and assistance required to conduct a background check and decide on the service accordingly.
If you have more time, you might choose a self-service option, but if time is scarce, landing support or other additional services could be helpful.
- Online tenant screening tools with user-friendly interfaces and guidance for new users.
- Full-service tenant screening companies that offer a hands-off approach, where all work is done by the company staff.
- Tenant screening services that provide customizable and flexible services to suit the landlord’s needs.
Determining Your Priorities
When it comes to renting out your property, choosing the right tenant is crucial. One key aspect is conducting a thorough background check on potential tenants.
But what type of background check should landlords use?
Let’s explore the most common types of checks landlords use and what aspects they should consider when determining their screening priorities.
What Is Most Important For Your Rental Business?
Different landlords have different priorities when it comes to tenant screening, depending on their rental business goals.
Here are some aspects you should consider:
Maximizing rental income
If your primary goal is to make as much money as possible, you may want to prioritize tenants with higher incomes or more reliable sources of income.
Ensuring tenant longevity
If you want to minimize vacancy rates and ensure your tenants stay for a long time, you may want to prioritize tenants with stable employment and rental history.
If you want to reduce the risk of property damage or legal disputes, you may want to prioritize tenants with good credit scores, no criminal history, and positive rental references.
How Much Time And Money Are You Willing To Invest In Tenant Screening?
While thorough tenant screening can minimize the risk of tenant-related issues, it can also be time-consuming and expensive.
Here are some factors to consider when deciding how much time and money to invest in tenant screening:
Size of the rental business
The larger your rental business, the more time and money you may be willing to invest in tenant screening.
Rental property value
If your rental property is high-value, it may be worth investing more in tenant screening to reduce the risk of property damage or legal disputes.
In a competitive rental market, you may need to act quickly to secure tenants, which may mean conducting screening checks faster or outsourcing to third-party screening services.
What Aspects Of Tenant Screening Are Most Important To You?
Not all aspects of tenant screening are equally important to every landlord. Here are some factors to consider when determining your screening priorities:
A tenant’s credit history can provide insight into their financial responsibility and likelihood of paying rent on time.
A tenant’s criminal history can indicate a potential risk to property or other tenants.
A tenant’s rental history can provide insight into their past behaviour as a tenant and whether they are likely to cause property damage.
Employment verification can confirm a tenant’s ability to pay rent and provide a stable income.
Deciding on the type of background check to conduct on potential tenants requires careful consideration of your rental business goals, budget, and screening priorities.
By taking the time to determine these aspects, you can select tenant screening options that help you find reliable, responsible tenants who are a good fit for your rental properties.
Frequently Asked Questions For What Background Check Do Most Landlords Use
What Is A Background Check For A Landlord?
A background check for a landlord is a review of a tenant’s criminal record, credit score, and rental history.
What Are Landlords Looking For In A Background Check?
Landlords are looking for red flags such as evictions, unpaid rent, criminal history and low credit scores.
Can Landlords Deny Renting To Someone With A Criminal Record?
Yes, landlords can deny renting to someone with a criminal record depending on the severity of the crime and the potential risk to community safety.
How Long Does A Background Check Take For A Rental?
A background check for a rental can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks depending on the complexity of the check.
Nailing that dream apartment is within your reach! Knowing that most landlords utilize comprehensive background checks – credit reports, criminal history, and prior rental history – empowers you.
Stay ahead, prepare and ensure a smooth rental process. Remember, your past shapes your future, even in renting!