With social media so prevalent today, it’s easy to see why landlords would turn to these platforms to get an insider’s look at prospective tenants. But social media research has its drawbacks, and landlords may want to rethink changing up their tried-and-true tenant screening policies:
Too Much Information!
While it may seem counterintuitive, one of the major problems with social media research is discovering too much information about the prospective tenant. Questions on the rental application are surgically aimed at tenant qualifications. Social media reveals personal characteristics — likes and dislikes. Posts might include details about race, disability, past alcohol or drug abuse, marital status, religion, or national origin. If a landlord acts on this information, it could amount to discrimination — and that’s a costly mistake.
Perfect Tenant — or Fraudster?
Tenant fraud is a growing problem for landlords, and social media profiles are one of the easiest ways to commit fraud. Fake social media posts may convince a landlord that the prospective tenant is a great person — exactly what these misleading posts are designed to do. In fact, the entire profile may be make-believe. Forming an impression about the applicant based on these lies can lead to significant income loss.
Another drawback of incorporating social media research into tenant screening is the simple fact that not everyone has a social media profile, and some people are far more active than others. That makes it extremely difficult to apply tenant screening policies uniformly to each applicant. Someone who is active on social media could be at a disadvantage over another prospect who is more private. Or the landlord may be more likely to proceed with an applicant who puts it all out there on social media. Either way, the landlord is deviating from the mission: find out if the applicant meets the qualification criteria.
Social media is not a substitute for income verification, references, or a tenant credit check. These tried-and-true methods focus on relevant qualifications without opening the door to discrimination, weed out tenant fraud, and allow the landlord to apply the same tenant screening policies to every applicant.
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.