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Tenant Background Checks

Why property owners and property managers should incorporate tenant background checks into their tenant screening process.

Background checks are one of the most critical parts of the tenant screening process. This helps to answer this main question: Who should you choose to live in your rental property?

While tenant background checks have several benefits, certain cities do not allow property owners to include them during the tenant screening process. 

However, if your local laws do allow for tenant background checks, it’s highly recommended to include a tenant background check during your tenant screening process to finding that quality tenant you’ve been searching for.

Here are a couple reasons why you should consider implementing tenant background checks as a requirement during your tenant screening process. 

Safety Precautions

When considering choosing what tenant you should rent your unit to, you should also be thinking about what type of person someone is, and who you are allowing to live within your building or community.

Property owners must take into consideration the safety of their current tenants along with everyone else who lives within the community. You have the final say in choosing the tenant that will be renting and occupying the unit, and because of that, you take on a certain amount of responsibility to public safety. As a property owner you owe it to your current tenants and other residents of the community, from a public safety standpoint, to complete your due diligence in requiring tenant background checks to be included in all your tenant screenings. 

You have a responsibility in completing your own due diligence to not put anyone’s safety at risk. Simply having a criminal history isnot a valid reason to deny a tenant. Property owners should take into consideration the tenants’ criminal history on a case-by-case basis, making sure tenants do not cause any type of unlawful damages to property, pose problems, or safety concerns to other tenants.

Liability Protection

By requiring tenants to have tenant background checks, you are setting yourself up to know as much valuable information as possible. It is important to note that if you decide to skip the tenant background check, you could potentially be putting yourself at risk, maybe held liable if something was to go wrong, and possibly be sued for negligence. Furthermore, you’re reasoning for accepting or denying a tenant’s application is extremely important too. According to the Fair Housing Act a tenant cannot be denied and prohibits discriminations based on any of the following factors such as: 

  • Race or Color 
  • Religion 
  • Sex 
  • National Origin  
  • Familial Status 
  • Disability  

However, a property owner is allowed to deny the tenants application based upon a criminal history. Property owner(s) must supply evidence proving their policies and showing it is not a form of discrimination and necessary for another legitimate reason. The reason for a policy is to protect the safety of other tenants and their property. Generally, this is considered a legitimate reason to refuse to rent to a tenant with a criminal history. In addition, property owner(s) must supply the specific reason(s) to why the tenant’s specific criminal history threatens the safety of the tenants and or the property. Furthermore, a general claim of someone with a criminal history is more dangerous than someone without a criminal history is Not Acceptable.

Policies must be clear and specific in saying that a property owner will not rent to those with criminal convictions that could endanger the safety of other tenants or the property. In addition, property owners cannot refuse to rent to prospective tenants who have been arrested but not convicted. Finally, property owners must consider how recently a criminal conviction occurred. It will be much harder to justify refusing to rent to a prospective tenant if the crime occurred 20 years ago. It must be clear that you are rejecting him or her because of a presumed, reasonable risk based on your screening criteria that you have applied to all other prospective tenants. 

Requiring your tenants to have criminal background checks conveys you as a higher quality property owner, who has a rigorous tenant screening process and cares about the wellbeing and safety of your tenants. This can help attract a higher quality of prospective tenants who may put a greater effort into meeting your criteria and are more likely to stay for a longer-term or renew their lease, saving you time and money because you won’t have to worry about having a non-occupied unit, spending money advertising the unit or wasting valuable time searching for a new tenant.

Tenants can follow the below links to more information: 

View our background check packages to get started!