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Background Check for Tenants: What You Need to Know

Background Check for Tenants: What You Need to Know
March 12, 2023

In hopes of finding tenants for a long-term relationship, homeowners rent out properties, which is not always an easy process. There have been countless stories of tenants who deceived their landlords, did not pay rent, caused damages to properties, and did many things that resulted in damages. While it does not fully ensure that tenants will be perfect, a tenant background check can help homeowners a great deal. Here we will explain what is a tenant background check, and what you need to know about the process.


What is a tenant background check?


A tenant background check is a screening process that landlords or property managers use to evaluate potential tenants before renting out their property. The purpose of the background check is to assess the applicant's creditworthiness, rental history, and criminal history.


A typical tenant background check may include:


Credit check: This involves checking the applicant's credit report to evaluate their creditworthiness and financial stability.
Rental history check: This involves contacting the applicant's previous landlords to verify their rental history, including whether they paid rent on time and took care of the property.


Employment verification: This involves contacting the applicant's employer to verify their employment status, income, and stability.


Criminal background check: This involves checking the applicant's criminal record to ensure that they do not have a history of violent or criminal behavior.


Eviction history: This involves checking if the applicant has ever been evicted from a previous rental property.
The goal of a tenant background check is to ensure that the tenant is likely to be a responsible, reliable, and trustworthy renter who will respect the property and pay rent on time.

 

House under a magnifying glass on a blue background. Pre-purchase property check


Background check for tenants: the process


here is a general overview of the tenant background check process:

 

Obtain tenant's consent: Before conducting a background check, landlords must obtain the tenant's written consent. This is typically done by having the tenant fill out and sign a rental application form.


Gather information: The landlord or property manager will collect the necessary information from the tenant, including their name, address, Social Security number, and employment information.


Credit check: The landlord will typically use a credit reporting agency to obtain the tenant's credit report. The report will show the tenant's credit score, credit history, outstanding debts, and any bankruptcies or judgments.


Rental history check: The landlord will contact the tenant's previous landlords to verify their rental history, including whether they paid rent on time, took care of the property, and left the property in good condition when they moved out.

 

Employment verification: The landlord will contact the tenant's employer to verify their employment status, income, and stability.
Criminal background check: The landlord will typically use a third-party screening company to conduct a criminal background check on the tenant. This will show if the tenant has a criminal history or has been involved in any legal disputes.


Eviction history: The landlord will check if the tenant has ever been evicted from a previous rental property.


Review results and make a decision: After completing the background check, the landlord will review the results and decide whether to approve the tenant's application, deny it, or request additional information.


It's important to note that the specific steps and requirements of the tenant background check process may vary depending on the landlord, property manager, or state laws.

 

Happy young family couple managing household budget


How long does a tenant background check take?


The time it takes to complete a tenant background check can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the screening, the speed of the screening company, and the availability of the tenant's references and past employers. In general, a tenant background check can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete.


The credit check and rental history check are usually the fastest parts of the process, and may only take a few hours to a few days to complete. However, criminal background checks and employment verifications can take longer, as they may require more time to obtain the necessary information from various sources.


If the landlord is using a third-party screening company to conduct the background check, the time it takes may also depend on the company's turnaround time. Some screening companies offer expedited services for an additional fee, which can speed up the process.


Overall, landlords should aim to complete the background check process as quickly as possible, while still being thorough and following all relevant laws and regulations.


What appears in a tenant background check report?


A tenant background check can include several different types of information, depending on the specific screening process used by the landlord or property manager. Here are some of the most common types of information that may appear in a tenant background check:


Credit history: This may include the tenant's credit score, credit history, outstanding debts, and bankruptcies or judgments.


Rental history: This may include information about the tenant's past rental properties, including whether they paid rent on time, took care of the property, and left the property in good condition when they moved out.


Employment verification: This may include information about the tenant's employment status, income, and stability.

 

Criminal history: This may include information about any criminal convictions, arrests, or charges, as well as any outstanding warrants or legal disputes.


Eviction history: This may include information about any previous evictions or legal disputes related to the tenant's tenancy.
Personal information: This may include the tenant's name, date of birth, Social Security number, and other personal identifying information.


It's important to note that the specific information that appears in a tenant background check may vary depending on the landlord, property manager, or screening company used. Additionally, the types of information that are legally allowed to be used in a tenant background check may be subject to local, state, or federal laws and regulations.

 

An accountant checks the tenant's finances and insures a certain amount.


How to prepare for a tenant background check?


Here are some steps that tenants can take to prepare for a background check:


Check your credit report: Before applying for a rental property, tenants should check their credit report to ensure that all information is accurate and up-to-date. This can help identify any errors or issues that may need to be addressed before the background check is conducted.


Get references ready: Tenants should gather references from previous landlords, employers, and other relevant sources. It's a good idea to notify these references in advance that they may be contacted as part of the background check process.


Be upfront about any issues: If the tenant has a criminal history or has had previous rental or financial issues, it's important to be upfront and honest with the landlord. Being honest may help build trust and demonstrate that the tenant is taking responsibility for past mistakes.


Be prepared to provide documentation: Tenants should have all necessary documentation ready to provide to the landlord or screening company, including proof of employment, pay stubs, and identification.


Be responsive and communicative: It's important to be responsive and communicative with the landlord or property manager throughout the background check process. This may include answering any follow-up questions or providing additional information as requested.


By taking these steps, tenants can help ensure a smooth and efficient background check process, which may increase their chances of being approved for a rental property.

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