One of the most effective ways to ensure intelligent tenant selection and connecting with high quality tenants is by conducting responsible background checks thorough screening of all applicants. A professional tenant screening service can take much of the guesswork out of this process.
Landlords should adhere to the following four guidelines to ensure they do responsible background checks and enjoy successful results:
- Be Well-Versed in Federal and State Laws
Methods used for screening tenants must be in accordance with both federal and local laws. While state laws can vary, laws under the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and Fair Housing Act Amendments from 1988 apply to landlords renting out property in all states. Landlords should apprise themselves of these laws to ensure all responsible background checks are conducted in a manner that is in compliance.
- Screen all Tenants Equally
One of the principal rules landlords should follow is the screening of all candidates in a consistent manner. Doing more stringent screening for some clients and less for others is unfair and could culminate in a discrimination lawsuit. This is especially true when using screening methods such as examining a candidate’s online presence or social media accounts; such methods are fairly subjective, so guidelines and processes should be established ahead of time and used consistently for each applicant.
- Don’t Leave a Paper (Or Digital) Trail
Landlords should also establish a practice of shredding sensitive documents after the background check is completed and the papers are no longer needed. Digital versions of any of these resources should also be deleted from computer systems.
- Use a Professional Tenant Screening Service
While it is possible for landlords to do responsible background checks themselves, they can be time consuming and difficult to complete. Navigating court websites, pulling credit reports and interpreting the data can involve a learning curve that’s more stressful and labor-intensive than anticipated.
A professional tenant screener is experienced in how to glean the most relevant information efficiently and will provide a concise assessment so that landlords can make a truly informed decision. A professional service will also conduct the search in a manner that’s in accordance with the law, eliminating the risk of performing these checks incorrectly.
Tenant screening is a key component in being a successful landlord, and these four tips can help with performing responsible background checks.