As any landlord who has ever had to deal with a problem tenant knows, properly screening tenants is of the utmost importance. One of the best things landlords can do to protect their property and their rental income is to perform a property management background check through a professional property management company.
Property managers have the tools and resources to make sure each tenant is effectively screened and vetted. Here’s why property management background checks matter.
Why the Property Management Background Check Matters
Avoid problem tenants
It goes without saying that screening will help you avoid problem tenants and reduce tenant turnover.
More specifically, a thorough professional background check will help you steer clear of tenants who:
- Might pose a safety threat to you or to others
- Would break their lease or fail to pay rent
- Could cause property damage
- May leave you vulnerable to liability
What a background check consists of
Property management professionals have a lot of resources at their disposal when they conduct background checks. Tenant screening involves thorough investigation using multiple forms of records and databases. Tenant screening includes:
- Credit report: A credit report is one of the first and most important parts of a background check because it will provide some idea of an individual’s financial history and liabilities. Keep in mind that credit history is only one part of a tenant’s overall background and should not be the only consideration. Many people with poor credit history still pay their rent on time.
- Criminal history: Background checks should always include the criminal history of a prospective tenant. This is not to say that landlords should never rent to anyone with a criminal record, but for safety and liability reasons it’s important to know who you’re renting to. It’s also wise to have specific policies in writing with regard to renting to individuals with criminal backgrounds.
- Employment verification: Providing insight into a tenant’s financial security and reliability, employment verification is another essential part of a background check. This part of the report will reveal where the individual has worked and for how long. Of course, with the growing prevalence of the so-called “gig economy,” it’s more common these days for employment histories to appear nontraditional; property managers are adept at interpreting this information.
- Identity verification: Is the person who wants to rent your apartment really who they say they are? Identity and address history, along with a Social Security Number verification check, will let you know for sure.
- Rental and eviction history: Checking the rental and eviction history of a prospective tenant will give you some insight into how the individual is viewed by former landlords. If they have a history of being evicted, breaking their lease or failing to pay rent, you’ll find out about it in a background check.
Know the law
Tenant screening laws can be confusing, which is one of the primary reasons why landlords should always have background checks conducted by property management professionals rather than attempting to conduct them on their own. Laws are in place to protect landlords and tenants alike.
Landlords must always be cautious to avoid inadvertently discriminatory practices, and remain in accordance with the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This is where landlords who attempt to do their own tenant screening sometimes get into trouble. Under the FHA, landlords may not discriminate based on any of the following:
- National origin or ethnic background
- Familial status
- Mental or physical disability
When you work with a professional property management company, you can be sure that tenants will be screened thoroughly, but also fairly and in such a way that nobody’s rights are trampled on.
Contact us today to learn more about background checks, and talk to our team about how our property management company can take the stress and guesswork out of tenant screening.