How to check a background for a tenant

How to check a background for a tenant

If you’re Googling, “How do you do a background check on a potential tenant?” you’re already off to a good start.

That’s because not every landlord does a background check on a potential tenant.

Steps: How do you do a background check on a potential tenant?

Here are bullet points on what you’ll need to run a background check on a potential tenant.

The list above is a clickable table of contents that will shoot you down this post to each subject. There you can find more details on each section.

Step 1: Signed Consent – How do you do a background check on a potential tenant?

It is illegal to run a background check on a tenant applicant without their signed consent.

Many (but not all) rental applications have verbiage that the applicant gives permission to a background check.

Here’s what that section looks like on the RentPrep rental application.

How to check a background for a tenant

If you’ve already accepted a rental application, but you do not have a section giving permission to run a background check you’ll want to use a separate release form.

This way your applicant won’t have to fill out an entirely new application to give signed consent.

Once you have signed consent you can move to the next step in running a background check.

Step 2: Understand what you want in the background check

Not every service is equal. Each service has pros and cons and you can read about the differences between background check services.

The most important thing is that the service you use provides solid eviction data.

In our opinion it’s the easiest piece of data to look for to see if your tenant screening service is legit.

A Transunion study shows that a tenant applicant with a reportable eviction on record is more than 2.5 times likely to be evicted compared to a tenant applicant with no evictions on record.

As a landlord, you don’t want to go through an eviction, so make sure your service provides eviction data.

If they don’t provide eviction data in the basic package or they’re trying to up-sell nationwide eviction data you will want to look elsewhere.

At RentPrep we cross-reference multiple eviction databases to make sure our eviction data is as thorough and accurate as possible.

Step 3: Decide on tenant involvement

This is a simple step but worth your consideration.

Some services require tenant involvement and others have zero tenant involvement.

We actually provide both types of services here at RentPrep and that’s because different landlords have different needs.

We offer SmartMove for landlords who want a full credit report and the ability to charge the tenant applicant for the report.

However, this will require tenant involvement.

Here’s a few reasons why tenant involvement can be frustrating:

  • Hurts conversion
  • Slows down process (potentially)
  • Does your applicant have internet access

Our data shows that about 70% of these requested reports are completed. This means 30% of the time the tenant doesn’t complete the background check.

The tenant also will dictate how quickly the report gets turned around. If they take a week to reply the report will take a week to get done.

Lastly, if your applicant doesn’t have an email address, access to the internet, or has poor computer skills than a service with zero tenant involvement might be a better fit.

Here at RentPrep our Basic, Pro, and Platinum reports are zero tenant involvement while our SmartMove package requires tenant involvement.

Step 4: Sign up for a background check service

This step is simple. One thing to be aware of is that some services charge a monthly fee no matter if you use them or not.

We recommend sticking with a service that uses a “pay as you go” model.

Also, you’ll want to make sure your service is using a secure website.

When you’re on the sign up page where you’re entering your information, look at the url bar at the top of the page and make sure there is a secure lock.

On chrome (on our sign up page) it will look something like this.

That green lock lets you know the website is secure and your information is encrypted. This is a small step but always worth a look.

Step 5: Order a report

How to order a report all depends on the service you use.

If you’re interested in ordering a report through RentPrep, this page will show you how to sign up and order a report.

If you need help reading your report or have questions with tenant screening, click our Live Chat button at the bottom of the screen to connect with one of our FCRA Certified Screeners.

How to check a background for a tenant

If you’re Googling, “How do you do a background check on a potential tenant?” you’re already off to a good start.

That’s because not every landlord does a background check on a potential tenant.

Steps: How do you do a background check on a potential tenant?

Here are bullet points on what you’ll need to run a background check on a potential tenant.

The list above is a clickable table of contents that will shoot you down this post to each subject. There you can find more details on each section.

Step 1: Signed Consent – How do you do a background check on a potential tenant?

It is illegal to run a background check on a tenant applicant without their signed consent.

Many (but not all) rental applications have verbiage that the applicant gives permission to a background check.

Here’s what that section looks like on the RentPrep rental application.

How to check a background for a tenant

If you’ve already accepted a rental application, but you do not have a section giving permission to run a background check you’ll want to use a separate release form.

This way your applicant won’t have to fill out an entirely new application to give signed consent.

Once you have signed consent you can move to the next step in running a background check.

Step 2: Understand what you want in the background check

Not every service is equal. Each service has pros and cons and you can read about the differences between background check services.

The most important thing is that the service you use provides solid eviction data.

In our opinion it’s the easiest piece of data to look for to see if your tenant screening service is legit.

A Transunion study shows that a tenant applicant with a reportable eviction on record is more than 2.5 times likely to be evicted compared to a tenant applicant with no evictions on record.

As a landlord, you don’t want to go through an eviction, so make sure your service provides eviction data.

If they don’t provide eviction data in the basic package or they’re trying to up-sell nationwide eviction data you will want to look elsewhere.

At RentPrep we cross-reference multiple eviction databases to make sure our eviction data is as thorough and accurate as possible.

Step 3: Decide on tenant involvement

This is a simple step but worth your consideration.

Some services require tenant involvement and others have zero tenant involvement.

We actually provide both types of services here at RentPrep and that’s because different landlords have different needs.

We offer SmartMove for landlords who want a full credit report and the ability to charge the tenant applicant for the report.

However, this will require tenant involvement.

Here’s a few reasons why tenant involvement can be frustrating:

  • Hurts conversion
  • Slows down process (potentially)
  • Does your applicant have internet access

Our data shows that about 70% of these requested reports are completed. This means 30% of the time the tenant doesn’t complete the background check.

The tenant also will dictate how quickly the report gets turned around. If they take a week to reply the report will take a week to get done.

Lastly, if your applicant doesn’t have an email address, access to the internet, or has poor computer skills than a service with zero tenant involvement might be a better fit.

Here at RentPrep our Basic, Pro, and Platinum reports are zero tenant involvement while our SmartMove package requires tenant involvement.

Step 4: Sign up for a background check service

This step is simple. One thing to be aware of is that some services charge a monthly fee no matter if you use them or not.

We recommend sticking with a service that uses a “pay as you go” model.

Also, you’ll want to make sure your service is using a secure website.

When you’re on the sign up page where you’re entering your information, look at the url bar at the top of the page and make sure there is a secure lock.

On chrome (on our sign up page) it will look something like this.

That green lock lets you know the website is secure and your information is encrypted. This is a small step but always worth a look.

Step 5: Order a report

How to order a report all depends on the service you use.

If you’re interested in ordering a report through RentPrep, this page will show you how to sign up and order a report.

If you need help reading your report or have questions with tenant screening, click our Live Chat button at the bottom of the screen to connect with one of our FCRA Certified Screeners.

How to check a background for a tenant

If you’re Googling, “How do you do a background check on a potential tenant?” you’re already off to a good start.

That’s because not every landlord does a background check on a potential tenant.

Steps: How do you do a background check on a potential tenant?

Here are bullet points on what you’ll need to run a background check on a potential tenant.

The list above is a clickable table of contents that will shoot you down this post to each subject. There you can find more details on each section.

Step 1: Signed Consent – How do you do a background check on a potential tenant?

It is illegal to run a background check on a tenant applicant without their signed consent.

Many (but not all) rental applications have verbiage that the applicant gives permission to a background check.

Here’s what that section looks like on the RentPrep rental application.

How to check a background for a tenant

If you’ve already accepted a rental application, but you do not have a section giving permission to run a background check you’ll want to use a separate release form.

This way your applicant won’t have to fill out an entirely new application to give signed consent.

Once you have signed consent you can move to the next step in running a background check.

Step 2: Understand what you want in the background check

Not every service is equal. Each service has pros and cons and you can read about the differences between background check services.

The most important thing is that the service you use provides solid eviction data.

In our opinion it’s the easiest piece of data to look for to see if your tenant screening service is legit.

A Transunion study shows that a tenant applicant with a reportable eviction on record is more than 2.5 times likely to be evicted compared to a tenant applicant with no evictions on record.

As a landlord, you don’t want to go through an eviction, so make sure your service provides eviction data.

If they don’t provide eviction data in the basic package or they’re trying to up-sell nationwide eviction data you will want to look elsewhere.

At RentPrep we cross-reference multiple eviction databases to make sure our eviction data is as thorough and accurate as possible.

Step 3: Decide on tenant involvement

This is a simple step but worth your consideration.

Some services require tenant involvement and others have zero tenant involvement.

We actually provide both types of services here at RentPrep and that’s because different landlords have different needs.

We offer SmartMove for landlords who want a full credit report and the ability to charge the tenant applicant for the report.

However, this will require tenant involvement.

Here’s a few reasons why tenant involvement can be frustrating:

  • Hurts conversion
  • Slows down process (potentially)
  • Does your applicant have internet access

Our data shows that about 70% of these requested reports are completed. This means 30% of the time the tenant doesn’t complete the background check.

The tenant also will dictate how quickly the report gets turned around. If they take a week to reply the report will take a week to get done.

Lastly, if your applicant doesn’t have an email address, access to the internet, or has poor computer skills than a service with zero tenant involvement might be a better fit.

Here at RentPrep our Basic, Pro, and Platinum reports are zero tenant involvement while our SmartMove package requires tenant involvement.

Step 4: Sign up for a background check service

This step is simple. One thing to be aware of is that some services charge a monthly fee no matter if you use them or not.

We recommend sticking with a service that uses a “pay as you go” model.

Also, you’ll want to make sure your service is using a secure website.

When you’re on the sign up page where you’re entering your information, look at the url bar at the top of the page and make sure there is a secure lock.

On chrome (on our sign up page) it will look something like this.

That green lock lets you know the website is secure and your information is encrypted. This is a small step but always worth a look.

Step 5: Order a report

How to order a report all depends on the service you use.

If you’re interested in ordering a report through RentPrep, this page will show you how to sign up and order a report.

If you need help reading your report or have questions with tenant screening, click our Live Chat button at the bottom of the screen to connect with one of our FCRA Certified Screeners.

These 10 tips will help you conduct a tenant background check with total confidence.

  1. Ask the right questions.
  2. Get them talking.
  3. Look for troubling signs.
  4. Confirm their identity online.
  5. Never use the employer contact number provided.
  6. Verify the landlord’s name using proper channels.
  7. Confirm the current rental period.

How do you interview a prospective tenant?

Top Tenant Screening Questions

  1. What date would you like to move in?
  2. Do you have pets?
  3. How long have you lived in your current home?
  4. Why are you moving?
  5. How many people will be living in the unit?
  6. How many people living with you smoke?
  7. What is your monthly income?
  8. Have you ever been convicted of a relevant crime?

What should I ask prospective tenants?

Top Tenant Screening Questions

  • What date would you like to move in?
  • Do you have pets?
  • How long have you lived in your current home?
  • Why are you moving?
  • How many people will be living in the unit?
  • How many people living with you smoke?
  • What is your monthly income?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a relevant crime?

How do you reject a prospective tenant?

To deny a tenant application, you need to let the prospective tenant know that you will not be selecting their application by sending them an adverse action letter. This letter informs the tenant why they are being denied, and if there is any way that their application can be reconsidered.

How do you say no to a prospective tenant?

Keep in mind you should only tell tenants that you’ve rented the unit to other applicants if it is true. Prospective tenants could claim you are rejecting them based on discriminating reasons. To avoid this, you can always just say, “We’re sorry but we’ve rejected your application.

How to conduct a tenant background and credit check?

Tenant screening companies that carry out background checks for a fee will tell you if applicants pay their rent on time, have damaged previous rental properties, have criminal records, and how they were rated by previous landlords. Require all prospective tenants to fill in a rental application form.

Do you have to do a background check when renting a house?

Tenant background checks should not be skipped, as they provide many benefits. Here, we’ll outline the reasons landlords should always require tenant background checks. When you’re considering who to rent to, you should think of it as who you are allowing in your building and your community.

How much does it cost to do a tenant background check?

A background check can include a state and national criminal report, a sex offender database search and prior address history verification. Tenant backround checks can cost anything from $20 to $50, depending on the thoroughness of the investigation. Contact your applicant’s current and previous landlords to ask for references.

How can I find out a prospective tenant’s name?

Got to www.google.ca and enter the prospective tenant’s name in quotation marks like this: “Jane Smith” and see what comes up. If it’s a common name, you might have to add the city: “Jane Smith” Kelowna. If they are under 50, they’ll likely have a LinkedIn account that you can use to verify some employment information.

What is the best tenant screening service?

Vertical Rent is one of the best tenant screening services out there. It is also a very good rental property management software which can be used by real estate brokers and property managers conduct detailed background searches on potential tenants.

What is landlord background check?

Learn More →. A landlord running a background check is fundamentally trying to see if you’re able to afford the apartment and won’t otherwise be a liability to have on the premises. One of the most common elements of a background check is a credit check, and landlords may also check out your rental and employment history.

What is tenant background search?

Quite simply, Tenant Background Search is the ultimate landlord tenant screening tool on the market today. As a landlord, your primary goal is to protect your investment. You need to make sure that you rent to responsible tenants who will:

Making sure that you can trust your tenants is important. That’s why we access millions of criminal reports to provide tenant criminal background checks that help property owners steer clear of problem renters. It’s free to sign up for membership and landlords can later pass cost onto the renters who are interested in applying, meaning they never have to pay out of pocket for a background check.

We use advanced filters and industry best practices to search:

  • 44 state criminal background checks*
  • Most Wanted Databases
  • National Sex Offender Public Registry

Benefits to Landlords:

  • 370+ million criminal records searched, from both state and national databases
  • Results available within minutes
  • Available 24/7, from anywhere online
  • More detailed results
  • Credit bureau strength record matching delivers fewer false positives

*The Criminal Report is subject to federal, state and local laws which may limit or restrict SmartMove’s ability to return some records. Instant criminal results not available for Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

How to check a background for a tenant

Key Points

  • Millions of criminal records searched, from both state and national databases
  • Credit bureau strength record matching delivers fewer false positives
  • Results delivered in minutes

Get a tenant’s criminal background check with TransUnion SmartMove’s resident screening report

SmartMove offers free membership and provides a comprehensive tenant background check so that you get the whole story, including any criminal report that an applicant may have. With more detailed criminal reports, online in minutes from SmartMove’s credit and criminal background check service, you’ll make better leasing decisions and find renters for your property that are acceptable to you.

Don’t put your renters or your rental property at risk

Having an accessible, affordable tenant screening service with a detailed background check is important when you’re looking for tenants for your rental property. Without conducting thorough renter screening, there’s no true way to know whether or not they’re going to respect your property and other residents.

Why we’re different

We make it easy to get a landlord criminal background check. SmartMove’s criminal reports and background checks are quick and efficient, getting you the results you need in a hurry—available 24/7 for viewing, allowing you to access the information whenever it’s most convenient for you.

Making sure that you can trust your tenants is important. That’s why we access millions of criminal reports to provide tenant criminal background checks that help property owners steer clear of problem renters. It’s free to sign up for membership and landlords can later pass cost onto the renters who are interested in applying, meaning they never have to pay out of pocket for a background check.

We use advanced filters and industry best practices to search:

  • 44 state criminal background checks*
  • Most Wanted Databases
  • National Sex Offender Public Registry

Benefits to Landlords:

  • 370+ million criminal records searched, from both state and national databases
  • Results available within minutes
  • Available 24/7, from anywhere online
  • More detailed results
  • Credit bureau strength record matching delivers fewer false positives

*The Criminal Report is subject to federal, state and local laws which may limit or restrict SmartMove’s ability to return some records. Instant criminal results not available for Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

How to check a background for a tenant

Key Points

  • Millions of criminal records searched, from both state and national databases
  • Credit bureau strength record matching delivers fewer false positives
  • Results delivered in minutes

Get a tenant’s criminal background check with TransUnion SmartMove’s resident screening report

SmartMove offers free membership and provides a comprehensive tenant background check so that you get the whole story, including any criminal report that an applicant may have. With more detailed criminal reports, online in minutes from SmartMove’s credit and criminal background check service, you’ll make better leasing decisions and find renters for your property that are acceptable to you.

Don’t put your renters or your rental property at risk

Having an accessible, affordable tenant screening service with a detailed background check is important when you’re looking for tenants for your rental property. Without conducting thorough renter screening, there’s no true way to know whether or not they’re going to respect your property and other residents.

Why we’re different

We make it easy to get a landlord criminal background check. SmartMove’s criminal reports and background checks are quick and efficient, getting you the results you need in a hurry—available 24/7 for viewing, allowing you to access the information whenever it’s most convenient for you.

How to check a background for a tenant

January 9th, 2020

As a landlord, you want to ensure you’re leasing your rental properties to tenants who will pay the rent on time and who are reliable and trustworthy. While it would be great if you could trust everyone, unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

People can put on a show and pretend to be the perfect neighbor, when in reality, they are hiding things from their past that may be a red flag to future property managers. The tenant screening process is the perfect time to fully assess who your potential renters really are and make sure they are a good fit. In addition to online rental application forms and credit checks, it’s crucial to run a background check on prospective renters.

So, how do you run a background check on a tenant? Here’s everything you need to know about background checks and tenant screenings.

What is a background check and why is it important?

Before we dive into how to run a background check on tenants, let’s briefly define what it actually is. Simply put, a background check is an extensive overview that shows a person’s criminal, eviction, education and employment history and can be used to verify and screen prospective tenants. Background checks show:

  • Eviction history
  • Criminal records
  • Public records
  • Verification of identity
  • Government watch list status

As a landlord, it’s in your best interest to lease your rental properties to people who will pay the rent on time, contribute to the rental community and keep your property clean and in mint condition. While you can’t guarantee anything, background checks can help you learn more about future renters and give you a detailed insight into their past. If a prospective tenant failed to mention something from their past, like a past eviction, it’ll likely show up on their background check, giving you more information before you decide if you’ll allow them to sign the lease or not.

How to run a background check on a tenant

Now that you’ve decided to include a background check as part of your tenant screening process, let’s look at everything you need to do to get started:

1. Get signed consent

Before you can run a background check on a tenant, you must obtain written consent and approval from the tenant. It is illegal to run a background check if the renter is unaware you’re doing so. You can include a section in your rental application that explicitly asks for their signature and consent. Or, you can create a separate form for them to sign asking for permission.

2. Obtain tenant information

To run a background check, you need the renter’s name and social security number. Obtain the necessary personal information so you can move forward with the tenant screening process.

3. Choose an approved background check service

There are a variety of background check services to choose from when screening a tenant. Compare your options and make sure it’s approved by the Federal Trade Commission. Once you’ve received consent, you can pick your background service company and run the report.

4. Decide how you’ll pay for the background check

Background checks can cost anywhere from $15 to $40, depending on the service you use. You’ll need to decide if you’ll foot the bill for this or if you’ll require the prospective renter to pay the fee. One way to get this covered is to include this fee as part of the rental application cost.

5. Make a plan ahead of time on how you’ll use the information

Before you see the results of a background check, it’s smart to have a game plan in mind on what you’ll do with the information and how it’ll affect your decision. For example, will teenage misdemeanors be a deal-breaker? Or, will you only reject sex offenders, people who’ve been evicted, or hardened criminals? To be a fair landlord, you’ll want to know your boundaries and hold everyone accountable to the same standards, otherwise, you can face discrimination issues in the future.

6. Know the laws

To avoid discrimination and be compliant with the Fair Housing Act, it’s crucial to know the laws and understand what you can and cannot do. For example, you cannot run a background check simply because of someone’s race or gender. Also, you cannot run a background check and use it as a cover for rejecting someone based on sexual orientation or age.

Final Thoughts

Background checks typically will have results back to you within one day. However, in some instances, it’ll take longer. By understanding how to run a background check on tenants, you’ll have more information about potential renters, keep your rental community safer, and give yourself total peace of mind.

It is unfortunate that every tenant is not an ideal tenant and extra measures such as extensive tenant screening is crucial. You want to make sure that your tenant is not a convicted felon or prone to destroying property during every tenancy. When you properly screen prospective tenants, you get the peace-of-mind that you are taking necessary steps to rent to the best tenants and that protects you as the owner or manager of the property. The Texas Tenant Screening Forms and packages to meet all your needs in screening tenants for residential properties. It is imperative to use more than just a generalized tenant screening form that verifies credit and current address or employment. That is why the AAOA provides extensive Texas Tenant Screening tools. Screen for previous evictions, criminal history, including convictions for serious offenses such as sex offender or terrorism. Expand the scope of the screening beyond Texas to other states and even to the national screening and federal search level.

AAOA Offers the Best Texas Tenant Screening Background Checks!

Bad tenants do not only tarnish their own reputation; they can tarnish yours as a trusted Texas landlord. With appropriate Texas tenant screening, you can better protect your Texas properties and your reputation as a property owner or property manager who takes steps to carefully screen applicants.

Texas Property Code Sec. 92.3515 provides that at the time of application, the landlord must “make available to the applicant printed notice of the landlord’s tenant selection criteria and the grounds for which the rental application may be denied, including the applicant’s:

  1. Criminal history;
  2. Previous rental history;
  3. Current income;
  4. Credit history; or
  5. Failure to provide accurate or complete information on the application form.

The prospective tenant then signs that the information was made available by the landlord. It is important to get the tenant to sign that the screening exclusion information was made available; otherwise this could render a potential rebuttal to refusing to rent to a prospective tenant in the State of Texas. This pre-screening information is permitted to be included in an application for rental of a particular rental property. It must state:

“Signing this acknowledgment indicates that you have had the opportunity to review the landlord’s tenant selection criteria. The tenant selection criteria may include factors such as criminal history, credit history, current income, and rental history. If you do not meet the selection criteria, or if you provide inaccurate or incomplete information, your application may be rejected and your application fee will not be refunded.”

Reminder: This information is a general summary of Texas Landlord Tenant Laws and is not meant to substitute for the legal advice, nor is it meant to encompass all laws and statutes governing Texas Property Codes.

The American Apartment Owners Association provides tenant screening background checks nationwide. Looking for a tenant screening report in a state other than Texas? Visit our tenant background checks page to learn more.