Anyone who rents their house or apartments knows that having a tenant who does not pay their rent or has loud parties that disrupt other tenants can cause a lot of trouble for you. To eliminate the possibility of these problems, having a tenant background check before renting is of utmost importance. Background checks can cost anywhere from $20 to $200, depending on where they are done and how much information you are looking for about your prospective tenant. Some landlords charge an application fee to cover this background check, and it is nonrefundable if you do not rent to an applicant.
A tenant background check is based on facts on personal information about the prospective renter. These include rental history and employment history. A basic report will verify an applicant’s social security number and address. These are very important to have because if you are given a false social security number, the applicant could potentially hide their true background from you. Besides getting these verifications, a basic report will also provide a Social Security death index check to ensure that the applicant is not using the social security number of a deceased person. It will tell you whether or not a person is on a terrorist list in the U.S. or in other parts of the world through a USA Patriot Act Search – Terrorist Check. You will also receive information about any evictions, liens and judgments, bankruptcies that the applicant has had. In addition, a criminal records search will be done to notify you if the applicant has had any convictions in your state or elsewhere. Finally, a sex offender check is done to ensure that the prospective renter is not a convicted sex offender.
Most landlords and property managers have applicants complete an application to rent which requires their social security number, address, and the histories of rentals and other information. The person is required to sign the application which usually has a notification to the applicant that their application will undergo a background check. This is often in the small print that most people do not read, but it makes it legal for the landlord or property manager to do the tenant background check once the person has signed the application. All that the background check company needs to begin the check is the name, address, and social security number of the person. The rest of the information is available in huge data banks that these companies have access to in order to locate information about renters.
There are also more detailed background checks available. These may include a credit check, along with the applicant’s FICO score plus validation of the applicant’s name, address, and complete identity. This deluxe tenant background check can help a landlord avoid renting to someone who has made up a false name or who has stolen someone else’s identity. These more expensive reports also find the applicant’s previous addresses, previous phone numbers, and previous employers. This gives the landlord the option to check with previous landlords that the applicant may have omitted, perhaps due to breaking a lease or moving without paying rent.
Even if you have always gone on your gut feeling when renting your property, it is hard to judge people on this basis. It is much better to judge them on the basis of their credit score or on nonbiased information. Besides, a poor credit score may be cause to not rent to someone that cannot be argued with, but not renting because of other discriminatory reasons could cost a landlord a lot of money in a discrimination lawsuit. Paying for a tenant background check is a very good investment that costs very little money.