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Understanding Tenant Background Checks

As a landlord, it is crucial to know how to effectively screen a tenant before signing an agreement. As a tenant, you should be aware of how these background checks work and the information that landlords consider before coming to a decision. This article discusses what a tenant background check is and what is included in a typical background check.

What is a Tenant Background Check?

Simply put, a tenant background check is the way landlords screen, prospective tenants. Any person filling a rental application will be screened so that the landlord can determine the best tenant for their property. Every landlord has their specific screening criteria, but all background checks typically involve an employment verification, credit background check, and criminal check. We will later discuss in greater detail what goes in a tenant background check.

A residential background check is crucial for landlords since it allows them to identify the red flags, if any. For instance, you would want to know if a potential client has had a history of defaulting on his bills, has been evicted in the past, or has served jail time. Therefore, it is recommended for landlords to not be hasty in signing a rental or lease contract and put pen to paper only after they have ascertained that your chosen applicant is the best fit for your property.

What Does A Tenant Background Check Consist Of?

Credit report assessment:

Although landlords cannot access a potential tenant’s precise credit score, they can check for other crucial credit details, such as any unpaid loans or bankruptcies. Moreover, landlords can even see if the applicant has been involved in a tenant-landlord suit in the past. Credit reports play a crucial role in helping landlords determine the prospective renter’s fiscal responsibility.

Employment verification and income proof:

A landlord would want to know if the tenant will be able to afford the rent they will be charging for their property. This assurance is attained through proof of income, obtained through the applicant’s tenant recent – usually, last three months – payslips. You could also contact their employers and verify the applicant’s employment. However, if the potential tenant is a freelancer or is self-employed, you can ask for their tax returns as income evidence.

Checking for eviction history:

The easiest way to check for a prospective tenant’s eviction history is by contacting their previous landlord(s). However, if you want, you can also assess the county court records for this information.

Criminal background checks:

Typically, there are tenant protection laws that prohibit landlords from discriminating against potential tenants with a criminal history. However, if you think renting to someone who has been convicted of a crime might put your other tenants at risk, you can decline the application or take extra precautions. It is also essential to consider the offense type and severity, and the amount of time elapsed since the eviction.

A tenant background check is not only a vital part of the process for landlords, but also a complex one. We hope that this article will act as a basic guide for tenants and landlords looking to understand the screening process.

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