Owning a rental property takes work; it’s not just an influx of “easy money”. While you will have all sorts of things to deal with when you have tenants living on your property, one of the most important things you will do comes before anyone moves in. That’s because, without a thorough new tenant screening process, you’re leaving yourself and others at risk.
If your new tenant screening consists only of a check of credit reports, you are not doing nearly enough to make sure that you’re renting to savory people. Sure, credit reports will give you a good indication as to whether or not you can trust your potential new tenants to actually pay their rent on time. However, there are lots of people out there who don’t have any major red flags on their credit reports – and are still people that you shouldn’t be renting to. That’s why doing a criminal record search is so important.
By looking to see if your potential new tenant has a criminal record, you can see exactly who you’re dealing with. If, for example, you discover that your potential new tenant is a sex offender, you may not feel comfortable giving him the apartment next to the family with young kids, or the apartment next to the college-aged girls. Now that doesn’t mean that all criminals should be crossed off the list. For example, by doing a criminal record search, you may discover that your potential new tenant was convicted for embezzlement. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s going to be a bad tenant.
And, in fact, in some states, there are even laws to prevent landlords from blatantly discriminating against all criminals. Some laws say that you can’t deny a person’s rental application based on a criminal record search unless he was convicted of a crime that’s related – like, for example, if he were jailed for passing bad checks. That crime would have a direct result on whether or not he could be a good tenant, because it shows he has a history of not paying people.
After all, the world wide web is full of all kinds of information and it’s typically updated much faster than any paper records. And, as an added benefit, it only takes a few minutes to check someone out online. By doing an tenant check, you’re giving yourself an efficient way to see what someone is really like – before you agree to hand over the keys!