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4 Tips for Doing a Tenant Criminal Background Check

4 Tips for Doing a Tenant Criminal Background Check

In January of 2021, Floria reached a record low rental vacancy rate of 6.5%. To provide a comparison, this is down from the 2009 record high of 17.8%.

Landlords work to keep rental vacancy rates low, but it should never be at the expense of their business. For example, landlords should avoid accepting the first applicant they find because they are desperate to fill a unit.

To increase cash flow in the long run, complete a tenant criminal background check before accepting any applicant. Keep reading to learn tips on how to do this.

1. Always Ask for Consent

You can't run a tenant criminal background check without written consent from the applicant. Attempting to run one without written permission is illegal because the renter is unaware.

Asking for consent should be clear. You can include a section in a rental application that asks for the signature and consent.

To avoid any confusion, consider creating a separate form asking for permission. In this same form, obtain personal information from the tenant that will allow you to move forward with the tenant screening.

For example, you'll need the applicant's full name and social security number.

2. Find a Background Checking Service

You'll likely find various background check services if you don't already have one. These might be specific to tenant screening or complete background checks for different reasons.

Do your research and compare all of the options you find. Don't choose a service unless it is approved by the Federal Trade Commission.

If you work with a property management company, they'll likely have a background checking service of choice.

3. Plan How to Use the Information

Once the tenant's criminal background check is complete, you'll need to decide to accept or reject the application. Before seeing the results, it's best to decide how your decision will be swayed.

What shows up on the criminal background check will depend on the service you choose. These are the most commonly reported things on a background check:

  • Criminal background
  • Government watchlist notification
  • Identity verification
  • Prior evictions

If you aren't consistent with accepting and rejecting tenant applications based on the background check, you might be held liable for discrimination. Keep things fair by holding all applicants accountable and to the same standards.

4. Know the Laws

Knowing the laws to stay compliant with the Fair Housing Act is perhaps the most important tip to follow. This will help you understand what you can and cannot do when it comes to tenant screening.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on the following:

  • Disability
  • Color
  • Race
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Sex
  • Familial Status

Check the list in Florida to see if there are added protected classes. For example, some states and cities bar discrimination in housing based on marital status, age, and income as well.

Running a Tenant Criminal Background Check Doesn't Have to Be Difficult

If you follow the laws and stay consistent with approving and rejecting tenant applications, the tenant screening process will be easy.

With this guide, you have the information and tips you need to run a successful and legal tenant criminal background check. If you want additional help, reach out to a property management company!

Contact us at Metro Residential LLC to learn more about our tenant placement services.