The Importance of Tenant Background Checks
You wouldn’t let a total stranger spend the night in your home. Nor should you allow just anyone to live in one of your rental properties.
While you probably won’t become best friends with tenants before they move in, you should take the time to collect some personal information about potential renters. Obtaining a tenant history and performing a background check is the best way to get clarity about a prospective tenant. Taking time to assess these documents could identify problematic tenants before they’ve moved in, potentially saving you lots of headaches and money in the long run.
What’s included in a Background Check?
Rental applications will ask for the tenant’s name, demographic information, identifying information like social security and driver license numbers. You will use this information to run background checks on applicants. Not only will you be looking for evidence of criminal activity, but you’ll want to assess a potential tenant’s credit history. Credit checks help determine if a tenant is likely to pay rent in a timely manner.
Credit checks provide information from the three major credit reporting bureaus and provide a look at the potential renter’s past behavior. Are there delinquent accounts? Are any in collections? Do they possess the money management skills to pay rent consistently? These are potential red flags that a landlord must know about before renting a property.
Criminal background checks should also be conducted on renters. You’ll need to decide if you want to run a statewide background check or a national background check. State checks will include misdemeanors and felonies in Arizona. If you expand to a national search, you’ll find out a person’s criminal history in Arizona, as well as other states. A few black marks on a record may not dissuade some landlords from offering a home rental. Each landlord will need to determine his or her tolerance for an applicant’s past behavior. Weigh how long ago the offense occurred and the severity of the crime when making a decision.
How much does it cost?
Background checks are generally quite affordable, especially when weighed against the damage a bad tenant can do. Credit checks from all three reporting bureaus usually cost less than $20. State background checks typically cost between $10-20; national criminal background checks are slightly more at $25-45. Some landlords ask applicants to pay for the cost of a background check as part of the application process. Many landlords charge a general application fee that covers the cost of all pertinent background checks.
The importance of tenant background checks cannot be overstated. Bancroft & Associates is Tucson’s premier rental property management firm. As such, we routinely screen tenants for suitability. We have years of experience identifying factors that could determine problematic tenants on the front end. Contact us today to learn how we can help you conduct background checks on potential tenants.