Landlords can refuse to rent out their space to applicants with a criminal record if they are not discriminatory about it. With 22% of the world’s prisoners in the U.S., a landlord has the right to run a tenant criminal background check before renting out their property.
But how does one go about generating an accurate background check on the tenant? This guide provides the steps you need to take to get criminal background checks that are accurate.
Have Them Fill a Rental Application
Your first task is to have all your applicants fill out a rental application. This application includes information about the applicant’s employment over the past few years, their current income, any other obligations they have, previous landlord’s contact information, employer’s contact information, lifestyle details such as pets, family size, etc., and references.
This information helps you determine the number of occupants and pets if any, that will be living in the property. It will also tell you if the applicant can afford their rental payments.
Run a Credit Check
This is a necessary step when screening potential tenants. A credit check will provide information about the past defaults. A low score may mean that they are likely to default on their rent. It can also mean that their debt is high, and they may have difficulty paying rent on time.
Run a Background Check
This is the most crucial step when it comes to screening potential tenants. Background checks provide details of past evictions, criminal records, and ongoing legal disputes. Evacuations can be a point of concern, and you may want to reconsider an applicant with an eviction on their record.
Criminal records are available through the State’s law enforcement agencies. You need a release order to obtain the applicant’s criminal records. Include this release order as part of the application so that the tenant knows that you will be requesting for their criminal records. The agency will charge a small fee to release these reports.
Some agencies carry out such a tenant criminal background check for you. They will handle everything right from the release forms from the applicant to a complete background and credit check.
Sometimes, the applicant is in a legal dispute with another party. It’s necessary to check the details of the conflict to ensure that it will not impact your landlord-tenant relationship.
Talk to Previous Landlords
Talking to previous landlords is another way that you can check for any criminal activity by the applicant. In case the applicant has a teenager, you may want to check their background as well. Since juvenile records are usually sealed, you may not get access to the information. Speaking to the previous landlord can provide useful information about the applicant and their family members.
Talk to Applicant’s Employer
Speaking to the applicant’s employer gives you a good idea of the behavior of the applicant. This will help verify that they have shared accurate information on the application and also help answer questions about any suspicious activity.
Your property can create wealth, but it can also give you heartache if you let it out to the wrong tenant. So, screening and background checks, especially for criminal activity, are essential and should be carried out effectively.