Tenant Screening Explained

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Tenant screening is a process that most landlords and property management companies use to verify the credentials of a potential renter. The reports produced from tenant screening can range from a simple credit check to a registered sex offender check. Because a great amount of information is disclosed during the tenant screening process, all potential renters should be aware of what a landlord or management company will be looking for.

The Purpose of Tenant Screening

Landlords and management companies use tenant screening for two main purposes: to verify that the information provided by a potential renter is true and accurate and to help make the determination of entering a lease agreement with a potential renter. A lease agreement is an extremely legal piece of paper which entitles the renter to certain benefits and rights, and likewise retains some rights and benefits held by the landlord or management company.

Once a renter has moved into an apartment, it can be difficult in some states to evict even for issues of non-payment or illegal behavior and there are a whole slew of legal processions that have to occur before eviction can be enforced. So, what most landlords and management companies tend to do is screen their potential tenants prior to entering into a lease agreement with them.

Reports Included in Tenant Screening

The reports produced by the tenant screening process can vary and are usually limited to what information the landlord or management company wants to know. In most cases, the bare minimum of information required will be a basic credit check, a FICO credit score, verification of the social security number and a criminal background history.

However, some landlords and management companies like to obtain a lot of information before they consider renting to anyone. In that case, a landlord or management company can request reports regarding evictions or lawsuits, liens and judgments, bankruptcies, registered sex offender status, collections, full verification of identity and a check of the social security death index.

Landlords and management companies can literally find almost any piece of information about a potential renter if they choose to include it in their tenant screening process.

What Tenant Screening Means to a Renter

If there are no blemishes on a potential renter’s credit report, background check or criminal background check, there is likely nothing to worry about and nothing to prevent them from being able to rent an apartment.

However, when there are some imperfections, such as a bankruptcy or an eviction, the renting process can become a little more difficult. It certainly does not mean that a landlord or management company will not rent to people in this category, but rather it simply means that not all landlords or management companies will be willing to take the risk on a particular individual. Likewise, if the landlord does choose to rent to someone with imperfections on the reports obtained, that renter may be asked for an additional security deposit up-front.

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