Why Checking the Background of Prospective Tenants is Essential

The right tenant can be a joy. They pay on time, have a good relationship with neighbors, and keep your property in good shape. The wrong tenant, however, can be a nightmare. They may trash your place, put you behind with bills, or cause trouble for other tenants or neighbors.

One of the best ways to make sure you get a great tenant for your place is to do a background check. A background check will give you valuable information about who is applying to your property and what kind of person they are.

Find out if they have a record

Just because a tenant has a record doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t rent to them. If a background check turns up an old drug possession charge from young adulthood or a minor drunken escapade, it might not be anything to worry about.

But there are other red flags you need to know about. A lot of your discussions with tenants are going to be about money, and money gets people hot under the collar. You don’t want to end up renting to someone who has trouble controlling their temper and a record to prove it.

If you rent to someone with a criminal record and something happens with a neighbor, you could be liable. If you get a landlord background check and respond according to what you learn there, you can keep yourself safe from liability.

Deal with a hunch

You can’t use a background check as an excuse to discriminate against someone, but it’s possible that you might have a feeling about someone that you just can’t quite place. The background check might give you peace of mind, or it might give you concrete reason to be concerned.

Either way, you can deal with your hunch better if you have a background check done. If nothing turns up, you know things are probably okay. If there is a problem, you have a safe reason to turn someone down.

Narrow down applicants

As soon as applicants find out you want to do a background check, they know you’re serious about who you rent to. If they have something to hide, chances are they’ll stop replying and you won’t have to worry about them any longer.

A tenant with something to hide is a tenant who is likely to cause you trouble later on. By requiring a background check, you automatically weed out troublemakers and invite only those with nothing they’re afraid of you knowing.

Get better long-term tenants

A strong background check attracts only those who aren’t afraid of it: only tenants who are confident that they have nothing to hide in their criminal or financial histories can pass it. These also tend to be the tenants who are serious and driven.

High quality tenants aren’t looking to move on a regular basis. They’re looking for a stable place. They care what it looks like, which means they are motivated to care for your property. They are careful and cautious about what property they choose, which means they aren’t likely to move out quickly.

Find out who tells the truth

In your rental application, you should ask some of the questions that will be investigated in the background check. Compare the way tenants answer to the information you obtain through the background check.

Comparing the application and the background check will let you know how honest your potential tenant is. Just remember to confine your background check and your application questions to things you really have an interest in knowing. If you ask more than you need, it might be considered discriminatory or a violation of privacy.


Ricardo is a freelance writer specialized in politics. He is with foreignspolicyi.org from the beginning and helps it grow. Email: richardorland4[at]gmai.com