The Importance of Screening Residential Tenants

Sep 1, 2009 - 3:00 pm | By

The 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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2 Comments so far
  1. Bill September 7, 2009 6:57 am

    Some great points about screening tenants and you are right about needing to talk to the prior landlord, but it is even more important to talk to the landlord before there current one.
    If your potential tenant is a handful, the current landlord may not provide all the facts in an effort to get rid of them. The previous landlord on the other hand will give you all the information you need and potentially more to make an informed decision.
    I’ve put a whole series of tips together for new (or seasoned landlords who need a refresher!) that are available here,, hopefully they help some landlords out!

  2. Ralph September 19, 2009 10:55 am

    (1) I understand and agree with the idea of getting application information verified. However, I’m getting stonwalled by former rental agencies and employers. Even with a signed request to grant requested imformation handed to them by the prospective tenant.
    Everyone is covering their backsides and refusing to give me basic information on my prospective tenants. I’ve run a credit check that cost $60. for the couple who applied for the rental and although they came through as very low risk/good credit tenants, I don’t have the basic application information verified: Do you have a bank account? Did you have any trouble with your prior landlords? Even; Is your stated income true? etc… My prospective tenants look very good from the information I have been able to gather so far, But they are reasonable hesitant to hand over bank statements.
    How do I get the basic application imformation verified?
    I have just one unit (My former residence) that I am attempting to rent out so I have the time to do the probing for information but I’m stumped with what to do. Help!

    (2) My tenants have agreed to have rent direct-deposited into my checking. What might the pitfalls be with that aggangement?

    Thanks for your help. Ralph~

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