Tenant screening is a critical part of the rental process for property owners and managers. Tenants must be evaluated to ensure they are financially responsible, have no recent violent criminal history, and will abide by the terms of their lease. Tenant screening services provide landlords with comprehensive background checks on potential tenants in order to make sure that they can trust them to pay rent on time and take care of their property. Screening tenants helps protect both landlords and tenants from costly mistakes or unexpected surprises down the road. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what tenant screening is, why it’s important for property owners and managers, how it works, who should do it, and more!
What is Tenant Screening?
Tenant screening is a process used by landlords and property managers before renting out their properties to prospective renters. It involves conducting background checks on applicants to assess if they would be suitable as a tenant based on information gathered about them such as credit history, rental payment histories, and/or criminal records. Tenant screenings help protect a landlord's investments while also providing peace of mind when looking for reliable renters who won't cause issues later down the line. Landlords may choose to outsource tenant screening services to companies that specialize in providing these types of services.
Tenant Criminal Background Checks
Tenant criminal background checks are an integral part of any tenant screening process. Landlords need to be able to trust that their tenants will not break the law and behave in a manner that is respectful and consistent with the terms of the lease agreement. Tenant criminal background checks can help identify potential risks such as previous convictions or warrants that could put landlord’s investments at risk. Tenant criminal background check reports provide landlords with information on the past behavior of applicants so they can make informed decisions about who they choose to rent their property to.
That said, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has put in place some very specific rules for what landlords are allowed to consider regarding criminal backgrounds. First, arrest records may not be used. Only actual convictions are allowed to be considered. Second, only certain types of felonies are allowed to be considered. Generally, felonies related to violent crimes are allowed to be considered, but non-violent crimes, even if felonies, are not allowed to be used to deny an applicant. Finally, you must use a reasonable timeframe for consideration, with a seven (7) year timeline recommended. If someone committed armed robbery twenty years ago, then even though it was a violent felony, it is not allowed to be used to deny an applicant.
There are some exceptions to these rules. While you can never consider arrest records, you can deny applicants on the basis of drug trafficking offenses, and you can deny applicants who appear on the sexual offender's list, even if the normal timeframe has elapsed.
These kinds of legal restrictions that the average landlord is not aware of are exactly why it is so important to use a professional to manage your property who stays up to date on these requirements.
Credit and Rental Payment History Check
In addition to tenant criminal background checks, landlords also need to be able to trust that their tenants will make timely rental payments. Tenant screening services provide a comprehensive credit and rental payment history check which gives landlords insight into the financial responsibility of their applicants. This type of check helps landlords identify potential risks such as past delinquencies or bankruptcies that could lead to late rent payments or damage to property in the future.
Tenant Screening Report
Tenant screening reports are summaries of all information gathered during tenant screening processes including criminal background checks, credit, rental payment history checks, employment verification, etc. These reports help landlords make informed decisions about who they choose to rent their property to. Tenant screening reports provide landlords with a comprehensive view of an applicant’s rental history, financial responsibility, and criminal background so they can be sure that prospective tenants are suitable for their rental property.
But while these reports are highly valuable, they also bring a lot of liability risk to individual landlords! Because the government has taken so many steps over the past few decades to protect consumer credit and privacy, tenant screening reports are protected by law and by service agreements with the credit bureaus and other providers of information. Generally, a tenant screening report is considered a confidential document that cannot be shared with anyone else. If you get the report, you are responsible for ensuring its security to protect the applicant. For this reason, property managers are generally not able to share the details of the report with the landlord, but we can explain what criteria we are looking for and what would disqualify an applicant.
Protecting Owners and Tenants During the Screening Process
Tenant screening services also protect both parties from potential legal issues by ensuring that all information gathered is done in accordance with Fair Housing laws. Tenant screening services ensure that all prospective tenants are treated equally – regardless of race, religion, sex, etc – when it comes to evaluating their rental history or creditworthiness. Tenant screening companies also make sure that applicants' information is kept secure and confidential throughout the entire process to protect their privacy and ensure a smooth transition.
Screening Tenants, Placing Tenants, and Retaining Tenants is What We Do!
At Revolution Rental Management, we specialize in screening tenants for landlords and placing only quality tenants in your properties. Our comprehensive services include every step of the rental process from initial tenant screening to placing tenants and managing rental properties. From criminal background checks to employment verification, and credit reports to rental payment history checks, our team of experts is dedicated to helping property owners find suitable tenants who will not only protect their investments but also provide a positive experience throughout their tenancy. With Revolution Rental Management on your side, you can rest assured that you have taken all the necessary steps to protect your property and your renters.