How Landlords Should Conduct Background Checks

For owners of rental property, one of the most overlooked tasked is conducting a proper background check of prospective tenants. Most landlords do not go far enough when it comes to doing a complete check, which means that a tenant with potential issues may get through. While no amount of background checking will prevent troubling tenants from renting your property, you can certainly cut the odds considerably by conducting a proper check.

What follows are the steps you need to take when conducting a proper background check. Remember to do this will all of your tenant to establish a healthy routine.

Initial Information

Most prospective tenants will call first in answer to any rental advertisement, so provide them with the information they need and then ask them for the following;

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Contact Information
  • Date of Renting
  • Landlord References

The landlord references are very important as you can ascertain their previous behavior. This is why previous renters should be given priority over first time renters. Also ask the standard questions about smoking, pets, why they want to move into your property and then inform them about the security deposit, rent and any other fees.

If you feel comfortable with the answers that you received during the initial check, then line up the prospective tenant for an interview.

Face-to-Face Interview

Look at their appearance for anything out of the ordinary, such as being unkempt or disheveled. The same applies to the vehicle that they drive as well. Also, their behavior should be noted as well, if they are respectful and courteous. If they look good, then have them fill out an application.

Background Check

Start with their personal references, although they will probably check out as few people give out poor references. The next step is contacting the landlords that they have listed on their application as well. Be sure that you find out if they paid their rent on time and if they left the apartment in good shape. Note any behavior that the former landlords provide as well.

Next, contact their current or previous employers on the list. While for the most part they’ll only give you basic information, you can find out how long they have worked there or if they left what was the reason. Finally, use your online background services to check for criminal record and credit history.

What to Look For in Your Background Check

Few tenants have a perfect background, but the first thing you are looking for is consistency. Is what the prospective tenant told you check out in your research? If not, then you have some issues which, depending on their severity will eliminate them from consideration. If the answer is yes, then you will have to go with your instincts as to what you have seen when talking to them.

As with most cases, you will arguably have more “clean and honest” prospective tenants that not, so that is the problem to have. So when it comes down to that, it will be your judgment call that decides what action you should take.