The wisdom of running background checks on prospective tenants

Why should landlords run background checks?

A landlord’s goal is not only to achieve maximum occupancy, but also to have tenants who pay their rent on time, don’t damage the property, and don’t cause trouble for other residents.

A proactive way for a landlord to begin to realize this goal is to run background checks on prospective tenants. Background checks can discover a rental applicant’s past rental history, credit history, and criminal record, if one exists. Thus, a landlord can discover if an applicant has a history of not paying rent on time, of damaging rental properties, or if the applicant has exhibited past behaviors that may not be welcome in a specific community. The primary information needed for a background check includes social security number, legal identification and previous addresses, and this data can easily be collected in a renter’s application form.

Armed with the information a background check brings, a landlord can approve only tenants whose past renting and personal profile is in line with the landlord’s idea of an acceptable occupant.

Background checks can benefit a community

Running background checks of possible new tenants not only can spare a landlord headaches down the road, but also can have an effect on the perceptions people hold of the landlord’s property. Running background checks on tenants can serve to reassure existing residents and prospective renters that their community is screening new potential occupants for criminal and other potentially dangerous backgrounds. This can have a favorable effect on perceptions of a community’s safety, as well as possibly boosting a community’s reputation – potentially leading to more applicants and higher occupancy rates.

What can a background check find out?

There are several components that a landlord might want to combine into a comprehensive background check. A landlord can perform any combination of the following elements in a background check:

  • Federal Criminal Record Search
  • State Criminal Record Search
  • County Criminal Record Search
  • Sex Offender Registry Search
  • Suspected Terrorist Watch List
  • Employment Verification
  • Education Verification
  • County Civil Record Search
  • Rental History
  • Credit Score
  • Professional License Verification

A simple tenant background check typically includes a broad criminal background check, employment verification, rental history, sexual offender registry check, and a credit check. These areas are the most likely to determine whether an applicant is likely to be a good tenant, based on past relevant behavior.

One thing that a landlord must keep in mind, though, is that they must perform the same type of background check on each applicant – deviating from this could very well be in violation of fair housing laws.

Does every landlord perform tenant background checks

While the vast majority of landlords of multiple or community properties conduct thorough background checks, which clearly indicates a fiscal advantage to doing so, a survey of DIY landlords (individuals who rent out a property without a property management company) conducted by Real Property Management showed that 21% of DIY landlords rarely or never conduct background checks, only 44 percent conduct sex offender checks, and 51 percent conduct criminal background checks.

Contrasted with the nearly universal background checks conducted by non-DIY landlords, and the 70% rate of background checks among employers, these are alarming statistics. If no background check is conducted, a DIY landlord is renting a home to someone they know nothing about – which isn’t reassuring for either a landlord or the neighbors of the new tenant.

How can Mobile Health help?

Mobile Health offers a wide range of background check options and attractive background check packages.

Please contact us today to see how we can help you perform affordable background checks on prospective tenants. Or, set up a corporate account now.

Mobile Health has partnered with Sterling Infosystems to provide the fastest, most accurate and most complete report on an individual available. These include criminal records as well as educational, employment and professional license verification. Specialty searches are available such as FACIS I, II, III, GSA Procurement and OIG sanction searches.

Clients can request and review background checks online through their client portal.

Background check reports are available on an individual basis, or packaged together to offer a great discount. Clients can request and review background checks online through their client portal This allows companies of all sizes to take advantage of scalable and customized solutions. Due to our complete digital process, we are able to cut costs, and pass along the savings to our clients. Even companies outside of New York can take advantage of our competitive background check services.

  • Sara Stein
    Written by:
    Sara Stein

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