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Page Readers talks with Gordon Basichis, author of “The Guys Who Spied for China”

Feb 8, 2010 - 2:46 pm | By Comments Off on Page Readers talks with Gordon Basichis, author of “The Guys Who Spied for China”

Gordon Basichis, Co-Founder of Corra Group, just wrote a new book called “The Guys Who Spied for China”, about the interesting world of international espionage. 

Click here to learn more about this interview

About the Author:

Basichis is also co-founder of Corra, which as the Corra Group specializes
in pre-employment and corporate research and investigation. In addition to his books, Basichis has written Breach of Trust/​Crash, a feature film, and has co-written several television series pilots. He co-created and served as Executive Producer on the forthcoming Showtime mini-series Land of Dreams. He was the co-producer of an ABC Television Network series pilot, and the
producer-director of Jerry, One Man’s Triumph, a video documentary about the nation’s first jailhouse lawyer. He has worked as an investigative
journalist and researcher, and in advertising, marketing and public


Tenant Screening helps prevent neighborhood blight in recession

Dec 14, 2009 - 3:20 pm | By Comments Off on Tenant Screening helps prevent neighborhood blight in recession

According to a recent article on Fox, property owners in Memphis, Tennessee are watching their neighborhoods turn to blight as the properties around them fall into disrepair, become abandoned with overgrown lawns and attract squatters and criminal activity.  Some property owners say that the property maintenance is the responsibility of the tenants.   Dr. Phyllis Betts, the director of the “Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action” suggested tenant screening as a solution to reducing neighborhood blight.   Conducting background checks on your tenants will provide you with a portrait of your prospective tenants past behavior including criminal activity and financial responsibility.   Running an eviction search can give you enough information to determine if you want to risk having a tenant in your property who has already failed to pay back a previous property owner.  

The trouble in this recesssion is that even people with good credit are having a hard time paying their bills.   A credit report is only as good as the moment it was taken.  Insisting on proof of employment is a valuable way to make sure you tenant can at least pay next months rent.  But what about four months from now? after your tenant has moved in.  Are you noticing signs of problems?  Have the checks been arriving later and later in the month?  Are you charging late fees?  Is your tenant dating their checks for later in the month?  Are you feeling squeezed?  It’s difficult to know the right thing to do.  Always adhere to the local, state, and nationals laws about housing.  It is worth maintaining a line of communication with your tenant.  Maintain accurate and current contact information for your tenant.  Should they decide to skip town without paying rent, contact information will assist with locating and collecting any judgments you obtain.

Bad Landlords Making the news

Oct 7, 2009 - 3:16 pm | By Comments Off on Bad Landlords Making the news

A recent article in HeraldNet discusses a rise in bad landlords in Everett.   Due to the recession,  landlords have had their work cut out for them.  Cash strapped tenants are paying rent late or not at all, damaging property and skipping town.  Landlords are finding it hard to maintain property safety and grounds keeping, clean water and perimeter security.   In a landlords haste to rent a property they may quickly install a new tenant in an apartment without conducting even a basic tenant background check, which can easily be down with a credit report, a nationwide criminal database search, and an eviction records search.   Additional research can include county criminal record searches in the county courthouses, as well as employment and income verification. 

Landlords need to realize they will save money in the long run by investing in tenant background checks.   A properly screened tenant is about as good a testament of future behavior is you can get.  You can’t always predict if someone is going to lose your job and get divorced and lose their source of income, but at least you will know that up to that point their credit has not been affected.  At least with a tenant like that, they will work with you to pay a rent.   You can avoid the repeat offenders with a simple credit report.

Tenant Screening Problems and Suggestions

Oct 6, 2009 - 3:33 pm | By Comments Off on Tenant Screening Problems and Suggestions

Some readers have asked some important questions regarding the effectiveness of background checks in the tenant screening process.   One major issue to trying to figure out an accurate, current portrait of your tenant’s fiduciary and social responsibility.   What happens if you run a credit report that shows low risk, good credit?   They might have great credit up to the moment, but do they still have that job?  Are they still receiving a paycheck?    Even with a signed release form it can be tough to obtain the information you need to make a wise decision about your tenants. 

Credit Reports:  In the recession, it is not enough to review a prospective tenants credit report.   You need to verify that your tenant can continue to pay the rent.   Make they sure they sign a release form and obtain employment and income verification.   Some employers are hesitant to provide information about their employers work performance but they will provide employment status, position, and sometimes date of hire.   Ask your tenant to provide you with a current pay stub.   You should be able to tell from the paystub how long they have been working for the firm.  Cross reference this with employment verification.   A good background checking firm, such as Corra Group, can provide a thorough employment verification for you and will get all the information that an employer is willing to release.   They can also provide access to credit reports at a reasonable price.  Keep in mind you will need to pass an onsite compliance inspection that usually costs around $57.00.    Depending on how many units you have to rent, this may be worthwhile.   Also, you can charge the cost of the credit report to the prospective tenant.   If the tenant brings in their own credit report, try to determine the chain of custody.  Perhaps they order it on their laptop in your office?

If you are having trouble getting any information from previous landlords, you may want to par down a bit and just try to verify length of residence.  Then run an Eviction Search on your prospective tenant to determine if any problems occurred.   Between the eviction search, paystub, verified employment and residence, you should have a good portrait of your prospective tenant.

Payment Terms–  Renters have been paying later and later in the month, eking out precious days to save month.  Make your maintain strict compliance with your rental agreement and subject to the laws of your community, state and country.   Maintain correspondence with your tenants and enact late fees as needed. Stay out in front of a potential problem by keeping those lines of communication open.   If you suspect there’s a problem, learn your rights.  Study your landlord laws and determine what you can do and when you can do it.   For example, you might want to determine if your  tenant has totally vacated the premises.  Determine what is your legal right to inspect.   As far as receiving payment from tenants, most people hate having to obtain an official check or cashier’s check each month.  If your tenant has shown good faith in the beginning, try allowing them to pay with a check, they will appreciate it.  If it bounces, move back to cashier’s checks.  If your tenant can pay with direct deposit, try to make it an automatic deposit that occurs on a certain day of the month.   You will appreciate the consistency and so will your tenant.  Their may be fees associated with the automatic deposit, and again, you can pass the cost onto the tenant.  Also, there are services that allow tenants to pay over the phone, with credit card, etc.  you can provide your tenants with this option.

Good luck and happy renting!!

The Importance of Screening Residential Tenants

Sep 1, 2009 - 3:00 pm | By 2 Comments »

The examiner.com posted a recent article about the importance of background screening residential tenants.    The article talks about the importance of running tenant credit reports, conducting reference verifications, and screening for criminal history.    The author C arlos Cooper applies some common sense advice about evaluating the results of the background check report.  For example, credit history is an important determinant of your prospective tenant’s ability to pay, however, because of the current economic crisis, good credit doesn’t count for much if your tenant has recently lost their employment.    Conduct references from “landlord, employer, and banking institution”  While it is important to verify employment, be aware that employers may not provide an expansive portrait of your tenants character for fear of litigation.   They will verify dates of employment, employment status, title, which is really all you need.   Seek additional details from prior landlord.

Eviction Records
We would also add that checking for Eviction Records is an important aspect of tenant screening.  While anyone could be struck with hard luck during this economic crisis, be aware that a previous pattern of evictions shows how much respect your prospective tenant has for the contract you are about to sign.

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Sioux Falls offers course in Tenant Screening

Aug 28, 2009 - 3:09 pm | By Comments Off on Sioux Falls offers course in Tenant Screening

More communities and beginning to educate homeowners on property management.  According to the examiner.com, Sioux Falls Community education is offering several courses for home owners on various home improvement subjects. 

The courses begin in September and cover various aspects of home owning including first time home buying, windows, woodworking, radiant heat panels, and property management including a section on tenant screening.   The course includes information on city codes, relationships with tenants, and how to conduct tenant screening.

Management Company sues tenant for Twitter Post

Jul 29, 2009 - 2:06 pm | By Comments Off on Management Company sues tenant for Twitter Post

According to CBS, a resident in Chicago has been sued by her management agency for posting a Tweet on Twitter accusing her management company of being OK with moldy apartments.   The suit alleges that the twitter post is a defamatory statement.

Search of the subject’s name on Twitter shows the dialogue is just starting about this subject.   Currently her name is becoming a cautionary tale among twitters, but it should be curious how the case plays out. 

From a tenant management perspective, a business should always consider the ramifications of a defamatory lawsuit.  The CBS article about the lawsuit has reached the lofty Internet heights of the Drudge Report and presumably the whole world is now aware of the situation.   Had the company done nothing the defamation (if real) would have been limited to her twitter followers.  Now with the media falling in love with Twitter and composing non-stop love puff pieces about its technology, this management firm has become a potential worldwide tweet target for an army of  tech-heavy populists.  Some public relations professionals content that even bad news is good news (but they might be just selling their Crisis Management capabilities)   The lawsuit might force the tenant to stop tweeting, but the unintended bad PR might sink the firm.

We all have horror stories about nightmare tenants; sometimes no matter how promptly you provide service and repair, your tenant will continue to complain and complain, etc.  We remember a recent decision by Sprint Wireless to cut off 300 of its own customers.   After a study of their customer relations Sprint realized that these 300 users were responsible for a huge amount of their customer service budget. By cancelling their business relationship with these customers Sprint saved money and was able to provide better customer service to their remaining millions of customer who do not hassle their customer serciceagents.  With this in mind it might be worth considering how much your nightmare tenant is costing you.

More communities discuss tenant screening

Jul 21, 2009 - 11:11 am | By Comments Off on More communities discuss tenant screening

Communities across the United States are starting to discuss the benefits of tenant screening, including how to conduct a tenant screening and how to follow the applicable state, local and federal laws.  Recently, Brainerd MN held a town hall meeting about tenant screening and this week they are getting to together to discuss it.  The original meeting occurred at the Police Department and was presented by the Police Chief.  Local residents received tips on how to collect information from prospective tenants, how to order a criminal background check, and how to read the background check report.  Most landlords and property managers are not criminal lawyers  and don’t know everything after criminal law terminology.  It’s great that the police chief sat down with the populace and explained how to read a background check report, including the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony, an infraction, as well as disposition information, including the difference between a  conviction and a deferral, or suspended imposition of sentence (or SIS)

Keep in my mind that screening a tenant screening report requires some analysis and evaluation of risk.   The paper version of someone might not match who they are: a DUI from ten years ago, doesn’t mean they are currently an alcoholic.  Look at the totality of the person, including conducting an employment verification and reference checks.

The Importance of Tenant Screening

May 27, 2009 - 9:48 am | By Comments Off on The Importance of Tenant Screening

More communities are providing forums to help landlords and property owners understand their rights and help them engage effectively with their tenants.  Champlin Minnesota is the newest community to encourage this behavior, which a forum that occurred on May 14th, the second annual landlord forum

In addition to discussing low interest loans for property repair, using the Internet to link potential tenants and landlords, they also discussed the important of Tenant Screening.  Large multi-occupancy housing complexes are their own communities and landlords are advised to effectively screen all tenants to protect their communities and their local housing reputation.  All it takes is one bad seed to destroy a neighborhood. Landlords can avoid most negligence lawsuits by conducting a tenant screening program that including credit history report, eviction records, criminal records search, as well as employment verification. 

Predicting future tenant behavior

While you cannot foretell the future, awareness of previous eviction records and horrible credit history are a red flag and shows you how your prospective tenant dealt with financial responsibility in the past.   Unless they have newly discovered financial responsibility and are seeking to turn their lives around, what evidence do you have that they will pay rent ever month and not damage the apartment?

Take care of your tenants before it makes the news

Apr 27, 2009 - 5:24 pm | By Comments Off on Take care of your tenants before it makes the news

WLKY.com reports a full story about tenants finding rats in their apartment, complete with photographs of rats and rats droppings.  The tenants claim the problem started in January and they have been trying to resolve it with their landlords, but the problem is still ongoing. They claim the property manager didn’t take them seriously and has been unresponsive. 

The story highlights one of the dangers of not responding to tenant complaints: there is a strong possibility of negative publicity, especially in the down economy, for these types of stories to make the local publications. With the Internet, these local stories turn into nationwide awareness of your firm, in this case, Brookside Properties, in Nashville

We recommend getting out in front of these types of problems before the potential for negative attacks.   Take precautionary measures to ensure a safe living environment for your tenants.  Before winter, work with the utility companies to check out heating equipment and minimize breakdowns.  It will save you money in the long run.  Your tenants will love you, and pay rent faster, stay longer, and recommend your building.

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