How to Spot an Applicant With a Previous Eviction

by Chris on September 23, 2013

One of the worst nightmares for any landlord is suffering through a “Tenant from Hell” experience, with months of unpaid rent, damages, and finally, an eviction.

tenant screeningBut what adds insult to injury? Finding out somewhere down the road (oftentimes in court) that your tenant had been evicted before. It’s even worse to discover they had been evicted multiple times.

The problem is that it is far too easy for rental applicants with eviction histories to pull the wool over the eyes of an unsuspecting landlord. Even if you run them through a tenant screening process, complete with a credit check, an eviction can slip through if you don’t do your homework effectively.

Here is a simple yet effective process that will help you to flag tenants with “holes”in their rental history — the ones most likely to be hiding a prior eviction:

Step 1: Make sure your rental application has space for at least three previous landlords (more is better). IMPORTANT: Make sure your application lists the start date and end date for each rental time period.

Step 2: Make it a point to call each landlord listed and talk to them personally, verifying the tenant actually lived at their property.Verify the start date and end date for each landlord.

Step 3: Quickly research each landlord to the point that you are assured they really do own (or manage) the rental property listed on the application. The intent here is to confirm this is a legitimate landlord and not someone who is posing as a landlord to help a bad tenant defraud you.

Step 4: Compare the information you gathered from landlords, and any previous addresses listed in the credit report, to what was provided to you by the applicant.

If the rental dates do not match (especially by a wide margin), your applicant may be hiding something. If you cannot confirm the landlord listed on the application is, in fact, a landlord, your tenant may be hiding something.

Simple discrepancies, like transposed numbers, are not unusual. But gaps of a few weeks or months  in rental history, addresses kept from the rental application, or the inability to confirm the information on the rental application should be red flags to any discerning landlord that screening this applicant requires a little more scrutiny before you let a potential tenant from hell move into your rental.

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 in 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.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Andrew September 25, 2013 at 5:06 am

The post was excellent advice. But I would like to make a couple of points. The TVS rental applications I have used only allow a tenant to list the current and prior landlord (not 3 or more landlords as the TVS post recommends). Perhaps the TVS application could be amended to include the 3rd landlord. Additionally even good tenants seldom have the contact information of their last landlord, let alone their last two landlords. This makes it difficult for small landlords such as myself, to confirm past tenancies.

Having said that…………I think that cross checking the listed addresses on a prospective tenant’s credit report with the listed addresses on the tenant’s rental application is an excellent tool when screening an applicant. I have found red flags using this method.

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