Tenant Screening 101 – A Review

What is tenant screening?

Tenant screening is a form of background screening utilized by landlords and property managers to vet applicants of rental property.  A rental property could be a room, house, or apartment.  Often times tenant screening is conducted on vacation rental properties for periods longer than a week or two.

Tenant screening utilizes information gathered from public reports.

What is a public report or record?

Any time a person interacts with a public agency information is obtained and stored.  The criminal justice system is one such source as is the department of motor vehicles.  Further, credit information drawn from one of the three major credit reporting agencies can be used in tenant screening under specific and special circumstances.

Which public records are being used in tenant screening?

Of the many different reports there are three key documents.

  1.      Consumer credit report
  2.      Evictions
  3.      Criminal History/Sex Offender Registry

A Consumer Credit report – This report is provided by a credit bureau and contains information on an applicant’s credit worthiness or ability to pay.  A credit report contains information on loans and credit arrangements, including contracts and revolving credit plans.  It will also contain critical payment information as well as action taken by issuers of credit.  Consumer credit reports can only be created after an applicant provides explicit written permission and has been informed of individual rights regarding the ability to correct any information and acquire a copy of the report used during the tenant background check.

Evictions – This report provides information on a potential tenant’s rental history.  Just as the name suggests an eviction report shows any history of eviction from previous landlords or property managers.

Criminal History/Sex Offender RegistryCriminal background checks will provide any recordable interaction with the justice system, primary the police or sheriff departments.  This may include minor misdemeanors or major felonies.  It should be noted that recent actions by the Department of Housing and Urban Development may restrict the use of criminal history.

Are there other reports available to a landlord?

A landlord can gain access to any public record.  Other records that may be of interest include:  Civil Records, Nationwide Criminal, Liens and Judgments, and Verifications. A best practice for a landlord would be to let a renter know exactly what information is being requested and used.

Should the owner of a small apartment building or single family dwelling use a tenant screening company?

Regardless of property size a landlord or property manager should use a third-party tenant screening company.

A well-qualified tenant screening company maintains compliance and understanding of all rules, regulations, and laws governing the use of public records.  Further, a tenant screening company will have the security and systems in place that can maintain, control and store all the sensitive information used during the tenant screening process.

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party background screening company that provides tenant checks to landlords and property managers for all sizes and types of rental complexes.  From the single-unit to the large community, TenantScreeningUSA.com has the ability to customize a tenant screening package specific to a managers unique requirements.

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