The housing rental industry is booming. “From 31 percent in 2004, the renter share of all US households climbed to 35 percent in 2012, bringing the total number to 43 million by early 2013,” reports this study from Harvard University.
As the rental industry continues its extreme growth – out-performing every other housing sector there is – the tenant screening industry has exploded, too. With that explosion, though, comes two very important lessons for property managers and would-be tenants.
The first lesson comes courtesy of an investigative report conducted by a local television news station in Austin, Texas. The report uncovered an alarming trend among criminals who are finding ways to circumvent the typical background check requirement of renting an apartment.
Most legitimate – and safe – apartment complexes, condominium buildings and even single-family-home neighborhoods have strict screening requirements and policies against renting to people with certain criminal convictions. Felony convictions will get you eliminated from consideration, as will any violent, sex, or personal or property crimes.
Still, it seems some criminals have found a way to by-pass those background checks. The report from Austin shows at least two men with serious criminal pasts have found apartment rentals by simply not adding their names to the lease – they let their girlfriend put it in her name.
How did property managers uncover the deception? The criminals allegedly tried to rob their own neighbors.
The loophole obviously is something that needs to be closed. One of the options at your disposal is to require a re-verification of background checks of everyone living at the apartment, not just those whose names are on the lease, when your tenant’s lease expires.
For more information on how to implement this, please contact one of our knowledgeable team members at (800) 319-5580.
You Get What You Pay For
We all know that a good landlord or property management company will perform a very thorough background screen on prospective tenants before accepting an application and signing a lease agreement.
But many landlords and/or property managers appear to be confused at what constitutes a thorough background check and what type of screening agency should be performing it.
This lesson comes to us from a situation in Virginia, where a mom found out she was ‘flagged’ as a bad tenant after a data-mining company sent incorrect information to prospective landlords. The problem stemmed from a damage claim made by a previous tenant for some property damage the woman’s developmentally-disabled son made. She paid for the damage but the data-mining company made the incorrect assumption that she had been evicted.
Data-mining companies often purport themselves to offer thorough background checks, but often their information is inaccurate, untimely, and incomplete.
Attorney Janet Portman, author of “Every Tenant’s Legal Guide” gives advice on background-check policies, as reported by Trulia. She says, “These companies purport to have access to criminal conviction databases, but often are inaccurate and incomplete. They depend on local courthouses reporting the data regularly and accurately – they can’t ensure it; all they can do is regularly upload data.”
The only way to get a truly thorough background check is to partner with a nationally-accredited screening agency like Active Screening. We have cultivated an industry-leading program to assist landlords and property managers in getting the most accurate background check reports available for prospective tenants.
Our background checks include verifying identity, gathering references from employers and former landlords, criminal history, eviction history. Our tenant credit check establishes whether the applicant is able and willing to pay the rent.
Below is a sampling of what you might expect on both types of reports:
Tenant Background Check
• SSN Validation
• Residential History
• OFAC/Patriot Act Search
• Evictions and Lawsuits (outside of that which is available on a credit report)
• Leins and/or judgements
• Criminal Records Search
• Sex Offender Registry Search
Tenant Credit Search
• Applicant’s Credit Report
• FICO Score
We know you’re bound to have more questions about this complicated topic. Lucky for you, our talented team of experts have the answers. Leave us a comment below, shoot us an email or give us a call at 1 (800) 319-5580.
We’d love to help you make an informed and educated decision about your background check options.