Over the past few months I have been getting a number calls from new landlords looking for tenant screening and asking about TenantMagic’s online rental application and background screening program. Many times they relate stories to me about not doing backgrounds checks on their previous tenants and the predictable bad consequences.
One landlord told me that she recently had a tenant taken away by the police in handcuffs. When she inquired why, the police told her that he was being arrested for bank robbery. She told me how surprised she was and that he “was such a friendly guy.” Tenant screening would have shown that being friendly doesn’t necessarily make for a good tenant.
Many of my discussions involve the benefits of requiring background screenings on all tenants 18 and over. She and many other landlords have told me that they are (or think they are) a good judge of character. Not only is this intuition many times incorrect, it can also cause issues with Fair Housing compliance.
My other recent conversation was with a landlord that had her property used as a meth lab. This can be very serious and dangerous. Meth labs can explode and destroy the property. Meth houses also attract meth addicts which many times are also criminals. Additionally, the chemicals used in meth production are very toxic. Meth house remediation costs can range from $3000 – $25,000 according to this story in the Boston Globe. https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2013/12/28/meth-lab-cleanup-growing-industry/Mvcx3cpnQ6P6wLOE2ejDuJ/story.html
These stories really demonstrate the importance of doing a comprehensive background check on your tenants. Your rental property is a very large investment and landlords need to make every effort to protect that investment by thoroughly checking out prospective tenants. This includes criminal and eviction history in addition to income, credit and payment histories.
Making judgements based on a single meeting with a potential applicant is unreliable and can potentially result in Fair Housing compliance issues.
Using a quick, easy and free screening program such as TenantMagic, can help assure you that you are getting a qualified tenant which goes a long way to protecting your property investment.