Everyone has used an internet search engine to look up information about a person of interest – whether it is a coworker, family member, or tenant applicant. While it is a perfectly legal and seemingly harmless way of learning more about a person’s background, you should be careful what you do with the information.
Internet searches can be tricky, because you might learn something that impacts whether or not you want to approve a tenant. However, you also might come across information that should have no bearing on your decision.
For example, what if the tenant applicant tells you they have no pets, but a social media search tells you otherwise. You might also discover information about race, religion, sexual orientation, or personal interests. By law, none of these things can be a reason to turn away a tenant.
While internet search engines are fast and free, they also aren’t 100% reliable.
We suggest basing your decision heavily on information received from a third party tenant screening service like ours that specifically includes employment verification, credit check, criminal background history, and the applicant’s ability to afford rent.
If you plan to use the internet to do a background check, then you need to draw a fine line between what information you find and what your lease agreement requires. That way, you have a legally sound explanation for rejecting someone.
This article originally appeared on alwaysscreenblog