Tenant Screening Services and Background Checks
Sex Offender Searches
Some states requires a Private Investigator license to conduct background checks. If you need background checks in the state of Tennessee, contact Nicholas Gustavson, the qualified manager for Corra Group a background screening firm that conducts pre-employment screening and background checks in Tennessee and around the country. There are several options for running Criminal Record checks in Tennessee. You can conduct County Criminal Record searches at the county level and these are the most accurate type of a criminal record search as they report back current information at the court house and are compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You can also order a Tennessee Statewide Criminal Check. Finally, there are criminal database searches, however these should only to identity possible criminal records that need to be researched directly at the courthouse to stay in compliance of federal employment laws.
There’s a court case in the news about a background check company that allegedly incorrectly described a potential tenant and employee as a sex offender. According to courthouse news service “They blamed the inaccurate sex-offender designation on National Tenant Network having mistakenly relied on a consumer report for Charles Otis Meyer and several other individuals with similar name”
We conducting any form of background screening, it is paramount that you choose a vendor that accurately screening criminal database searches. The background screening company must adopt strict procedures to ensure adverse public records information is complete and up to date. That means, initially confirming that the actual criminal record is a match with your subject. Many database records can be name only matches, or similar names, with middle names not matching, or date of birth variances. Once identity has been confirmed, a local courthouse check is in order to confirm the current status on the case. Databases are notorious for not including the most current data on a case. Should a case be dismissed later, after a suspension, this information is vital for an employer to make a correct hiring decision.
The trouble with bad tenants is that landlords need the rental income. Each month that goes by without an occupied apartment is negative cashflow. Choosing to streamline your rental process may help get those apartments filled, but can lead to trouble on the back end, from late rental payments, to missed rental payments, property damage, crime, and ultimately the problems associated with eviction, getting a judgment, physically evicting a tenant, and then spending money to clean up the apartment and attempt to rent it again.
If you can afford it, try to screen your tenants before you place them. Run tenant credit reports to evaluate your tenants credit history and ability to pay pills and willingness to work with creditors. If your tenant shows they have a frequent pattern of ignoring the debt, then its possible your future tenant won’t feel the fiduciary responsibility to pay the rent on time, or at all.
Good luck and spend a little bit of money up front to save yourself the hassle and expense of an eviction process.
It seems there’s always a bad apple out there somewhere. Most tenants are great people, just looking for a place to live. When things go wrong, they approach problems in a decent respectful manner. We always recommend landlords and managements companies to address tenant complaints in a timely and efficient manner. Sometimes landlords can be insensitive, aloof, or even a “slumlord”, which will earn the ire of tenants. Tenants will respond in a number of ways, so it’s best to always get out in front of problems and resolve. Always consult local, state, and national codes and laws to determine your rights and best course of action.
Sometimes, regardless of how responsive you are, you may have a tenant who is unwilling to recognize the logical and legal limitations of your role as landlord. What they decided to do about it is anyone’s guess; hopefully you leases to a decent and honest person. Did you? Did you conduct a background check to verify their employment, income, and or criminal history?
Sometime tenants will just trash your place. Like this guy in England from a Times UK article.
The landlord spents months trying to evict a tenant, and when he finally did, he found the place was vandalized to the tune of £20,000. That’s a big number to absorb when you are attempting to earn some passive income of your income property investments.
When screening tenants for your apartment building or condominium, make sure you are in compliance with federal, state and local ordinances. When running a credit report on a potential tenant, you must follow the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. Make sure you obtain a signed disclosure and release form from the potential tenant before running the credit report. Depending on your location, if the potential tenant is paying the screening fee, make sure you are in compliance with local regulations regarding price and stay transparent by given them an itemized receipt for the screening fee transactions. Some locations have a maximum amount you can charge a tenant, so check locally and assure you are in compliance.
What to do before you apply for an Apartment
For tenants, we recommend checking your credit report you apply for an apartment. If there are any discrepancies on your record, clear those up as fast as you can. You are able to dispute charges on your credit report if you believe they are incorrect. You can also attach a personal statement to you credit report explaining anything you believe requires a good explanation. Be aware of what is on your credit report, including bankruptcies, tax liens, civil judgments, which are public records, and also any unpaid bills. Don’t be caught by surprise while you are applying for the apartment of your dreams, or worse, be in a desperate situation and need an apartment, today. Clean up your credit situation and be prepared to explain any discrepancies to the management company. Make your bring in the management company or landlord information from your previous locations, and make sure they will be good references for your past rental history. Following these steps will help you obtain that apartment.
In these times of recession, you’re bound to see poor credit scores and derogatory credit information on your potential tenant’s credit reports. Many tenants are property owners who are somewhere in the mess of foreclosure or attempting a short sale. They can be desperate to find housing and that’s why they are applying to rent your property. One thing to be aware of are tenants who claim their poor credit score is due to their foreclosure strategy. In order to qualify for a loan modification they actively refuse to pay their mortgage and thus their score suffers. They claim they really are sound financially but are strategy trying to get off mortgage. If this is true, consider the implications. No matter how unfair the mortgage situation might have been for them, the fact is they are refusing to pay a financial obligation that they agreed to. They read the loan docs, (or they were supposed to) and a notary notarized their signature. Even if you agree that their situation was unfair, do you agree with their payment strategy? Now consider if they have elected not to pay a large bank with the full weight of a huge financial institution behind them, why would they pay you, a property management company, or a single property owner? Proceed with caution.
While many property managers run tenant credit checks on prospective tenants, they are many other background check searches that provide additional insight into your tenant’s background. First off, a credit history report is a valuable tool for evaluate your tenant’s past fiduciary responsibility. You will see a FICO score, giving an overall portrait of your tenant’s creditworthiness, as well as any public records such as bankruptcies, tax liens, and civil judgments, and any open trade-lines and any charge-offs. You can determine how much they are paying on monthly credit card bills as well as other long term loans such as auto loans, real estate, school loans, etc. Calculate how much they are paying on a monthly basis, then compare to the pay stub they provided to you. Does it add up? If it doesn’t, proceed with caution.
If you are concerned about the pay stub’s validity, verify your candidate’s employment status. You can contact the employer directly, or use a third party background verification service such as Corra Group, to contact the employer and verify job title, current job standing (is the tenant laid off, and they handed you an old pay stub?) as well as salary information. Employers are increasingly not releasing compensation information, but verifying the current employment status should be good enough for your purposes.
County Civil Lawsuit Searches
You might find it a good idea to check for County Civil Lawsuit Searches in the areas where your candidate has resided. Check the Credit History Report header which will show your tenants previous addresses. Check the courthouses in the area where they have lived, the Civil Higher and lower courts. You’re looking to see if your candidate has been listed as a Plaintiff in any civil matters. That means the tenant has filed a case. If they are listed as a plaintiff in several cases, proceed with caution. You may be the next defendant. If the tenant is listed as defendant, check out court records and find out why the subject is a defendant. Was it another apartment management company? It’s good to know what you are dealing with before the property is rented.
Thought we’d share with you some video that a landlord took of the inside of apartment, showing apparent damage caused by a tenant. Interesting discussion from various landlords, including the idea that you should inspect your property every six months to keep tabs on the condition of your asset. Keep in mind that tenants who get evicted don’t have much of an interest in cleaning up the property before they leave. We recommend you screen your potential tenants for previous eviction records before you allow them to move in. While you cannot predict what will happen once they move in, at least you will know if they have a history of evictions.
It’s also important to contact their previous landlords and see what additional information can be gleaned. Hopefully you will find a good tenant. Good luck!
Is a sex offender living in one of your units? How do you know? You may be checking your tenants credit score and possible eviction history, but you should consider conducting criminal background checks as well. By ordering even an Instant Nationwide Criminal Database search you can verify whether your prospective tenant is a registered sex offender. In addition, criminal databases from around the country we also include access to 50 states sex offender registries.
You can pass the cost of the criminal background check to the tenant, as part of the application process, including the credit report.
What happens if you do hire a sex offender or a criminal and something bad happens in your building or area? According to an article in Habitat Magazine, if a landlord or Co-Op could have forseen that something bad happening by implementing a background screening system for all tenants, then they might be seen as negligent. “The failure to check — in certain instances — may be negligent.”
Corra Group founders were recently interviewed by French News Cable channel CanalPlus, regarding background checks in the Film and Television industry, specifically about Ryan Jenkins and running background checks on Reality Television industry contestants. The interview is overdubbed in French, but you can hear what’s going on underneath.