As any seasoned landlord knows, it is important to perform tenant background checks before signing a lease. This will inevitably prevent you from having to deal with a hardened criminal, sex offender or, for lack of a better term, a problem child who is now an adult.
Typically I like to “size-up” potential tenants visually first. Now I know appearance isn’t everything but on the other hand, if it walks like a duck……
Usually I insist that before the lease is executed, I meet with everyone who will be living in the house, including pets to make sure that none of them are one of these.
In one instance, a couple was trying to rent one of our houses and a parent was the primary contact. This guy, the father of one of them, wasted two hours of my time yakking about this and that in an effort to establish a rapport with me.
Upon further investigation, one of the potential tenants had an impressively long prison record for his age and a wonderful array of white supremacist tattoos as described on the state department of corrections web site. Now, I have nothing against tattoos, I have some myself, but I’m not trying to scare the neighbors either.
So here’s my general research path:
- Using information from the rental application, I check the driver’s license number against the local clerk of courts criminal and civil database on the web. If they’ve exclusively lived locally, you get to see everything from previous evictions to traffic violations to attempted murder charges.
- I check the name and date of birth against the state’s department of corrections database on the web. This will tell me if the attempted murder charges stuck.
- I check with The Almighty Google to see if they’ve pissed anyone else off.
- I check with their previous landlord mostly to make sure that they pay on-time.
- I check with their employers to verify income. If they list their employment as “cocktail waitress” at a known strip club, they’re more often than not “strippers” in which case, I tell them, “Thanks for playing, buh-bye.”
- If I can’t verify their income, I ask to see check stubs or bank statements.
- Then and only then do I run an electronic credit and background check (usually using E-Renter.com but I’m looking for a better service.)
Usually if they check-out on all of the above, the landlord-tenant relationship may work out well.