Tenant Screening Reports Aren't Always About The Bad Stuff

Services for Real Estate Pros with RentPrep Tenant Screening

Tenant Screening Reports Aren't Always About The Bad Stuff

Every time people think about a tenant screening report, their minds quickly jump to the fact that one is carrying out an exercise meant to identify and expose all negative material about a tenant. What people forget is that this exercise is solely designed to help identify tenants whose profiles fit right with what you want.

Consequently, you should not be too obsessed with the negative information you can dig about the past life of the prospective tenant. If you come across positive information, this should not cause you to despair and think that the tenant screening process has been less effective than what you had in mind. 

Results On Tenant Screening Reports

Although the information can differ as much as possible, all the information you are able to dig out through undertaking a tenant background search can be broken down into three main categories namely the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Let’s take a look at each category closely:

The Good

  • Look out for a positive verification obtained from both a current and a previous landlord. 
  • If there isn’t any adverse reporting regarding the tenant’s past in terms of any financial or criminal history, this is a good sign. 
  • If the tenant’s credit score is above 650, this is a good indicator too.

The Bad

  • Look out for any previous cases of Bankruptcy (3 years or older).
  • Look out for past cases of multiple arrest records.
  • If the credit score is around 500 to 649, this is a bad sign.
  • Where past or current landlords offer a bad recommendation, citing cases of late rent and noise complaints among others, this is a bad sign too. 
  • If there are low balance judgments, this is a bad indicator.
  • The presence of State and Federal Tax Liens on the report indicates that this could be a bad tenant.

The Ugly

  • Current Cases of Bankruptcy are very ugly (especially if they were filed within the recent 3 years)
  • Presence of multiple and high balance judgments is ugly
  • Presence of arrest records which resulted into convictions of crimes are ugly
  • Is there proof that the tenant is a sex offender?
  • Are the Credit Scores below 500?
  • Has the tenant faced evictions?
  • Is the Social Security Number invalid?

What to Note About Criminal and Eviction Searches

The tenant screening company you opt for must be one which carries out Nationwide searches. If you perform searches which cover the state the tenant shares with you as the landlord, this will not help you to come up with a detailed tenant screening report. If the tenant has just moved into the state in the last six months or less, you will probably have nothing to learn about his past. The same case applies with evictions as well.

It’s interesting to note that some landlords have no regard for the criminal records and are more focused on the tenant’s ability to pay rent on time. They are also interested in learning whether this tenant has ever been evicted in the past 7 years. Other landlords are interested to learn whether the tenant has ever faced Felony charges, or ended up spending time in jail. 

As an individual landlord, it is your decision as to which information to lay more emphasis on in your applicants, and then look for the suitable tenant screening company which will give you what you need. 

The Most Important Factor to Landlords

We recently carried out a survey of our landlord clients, and realized that they consider evictions to be the most single important factor. This makes sense. 

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Author Bio

Stephen is the co-founder and CEO of RentPrep, which provides tenant screening, background, and credit checks to landlords, property managers, and real estate professionals.

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