Tenant Screening: What Landlords Should Be Watching For

by Chris on March 26, 2018

Most landlords understand the value of screening tenants before handing over possession of an asset worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. But it’s not always clear what, exactly, a landlord should be looking for when running a tenant background check. Here’s an easy way to break it down:

The Big Picture

The first thing to determine is whether the tenant is qualified based on income and rental history. Review the completed rental application in its entirety and evaluate whether, if the information provided proves to be true, the applicant would meet the qualifications required. If not, there is no need to go further into the background check.

The Close-Up

The next phase is to take a closer look at the details and determine if there are any areas of concern. Here, it’s not so much what’s in the application, but what’s not. The rental application and tenant screening reports may offer a glimpse into potential fraud. This part of the process requires cross-referencing data obtained from:

The prequalification interview — the first phone call;
The applicant’s photo ID;
The rental application and supporting documentation;
The credit report; and,
Reference interviews.

Focus on any information that the applicant failed to disclose like:

Alias names;
Unreported addresses; or,
Employment info that doesn’t match the application.

Pay special attention to any efforts to thwart or delay the tenant background check:

Failing to supply current phone numbers for references;
Incomplete addresses or inaccurate dates on the rental application;
No supporting documentation provided; or
Excuses designed to avoid reference checks.

Check for information that throws into question whether the applicant hijacked someone’s identity. For instance:

The credit history is significant, but the applicant is young;
The names, birthdates or addresses don’t match on the rental application, credit report and photo ID; or,
The references describe a different person.

Once a contradictory detail is revealed, a scammer’s story quickly can unravel. People make mistakes and sometimes the inconsistency can be explained. But if not, it’s time to move on to a better prospect.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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