Property Managers: What type of background screening should you be performing?

While driving into the office this morning and thinking of what to blog about today (this really happened), I was flipping through channels on Sirius Radio, and stopped on Fox News when I heard Elizabeth Hasselbeck on Fox & Friends ask the following question:

“If you are an owner of a rental property and you want to hire a property manager, what important questions should you be asking?”

Bob Massi, the legal consumer analyst for Fox News Channel responded with “the very, very first question is how do you select my tenant, property manager? What kind of background check do you do? What is it that you look for to make sure that I’m not going to get somebody in there that is going to ruin my property?”

Watch the full clip here:

We write a lot about pre-employment applicant background screening programs and advice, but haven’t focused on tenant screening on the blog yet. As the rental industry continues to show extreme growth, out-performing every other housing sector there is, there has subsequently been a huge growth in the tenant screening industry.

A good landlord or property management company will perform a very thorough background screen on prospective tenants before accepting an application and signing a lease agreement. Just as a bad economy has forced a strong growth in those wanting or needing to rent properties out, it has forced an even larger growth of victims on the leasing side, who in desperation, will resort to extreme measures to obtain a lease. Some reasons for background screening your tenants carefully would be:

  1. Identifying Professional Tenants. “Professional Tenants,” are a large concern for property managers, as this worrisome trend continues to grow. What is a Professional Tenant? Professional Tenants scam landlords and the system in general. Once they move in, they instantly stop paying rent, often file a series of complaints about poor living conditions, and then sometimes even tie up cases in court for months on end, all while not paying rent.

  2. Identifying false information submitted on lease applications. As simple as this sounds to avoid, it is seen all too often. Applicants supply false addresses, job history, etc, in hopes that the information will slip through at first glance. Many times unfortunately, this is exactly what happens.

  3. Catching False Identities. Beyond providing false information on applications, some would be tenants will provide completely false identification information, and have the documents to “prove” who they are.

  4. Protecting your property and other tenants. Tenant background checks often can turn up criminal backgrounds including domestic violence, sexual predators, drug dealing, etc.

These checks will include verifying identity, gathering references from employers and former landlords, criminal history, eviction history. This is not the same as the tenant credit check, which will establish whether the applicant is able and willing to pay the rent.

Below is a sampling of what you might expect on both types of reports:

Tenant Background Check

  • SSN Validation
  • Residential History
  • OFAC/Patriot Act Search
  • Evictions and Lawsuits (outside of that which is available on a credit report)
  • Leins and/or judgements
  • Bankruptcies
  • Criminal Records Search
  • Sex Offender Registry Search

Tenant Credit Search

  • Applicant’s Credit Report
  • FICO Score
  • Bankruptcies
  • Judgements
  • Collections

Active Screening can help protect you from fraud and mitigate risk by providing insight into a potential renter’s history. We offer customized and unique solutions based on your application policy.  Through credit reports and criminal records, we can help you identify the tenant who will pay their rent and leave you worry free each month. We even offer applicant entry solutions which give your applicants a simple online paperless form and payment solution.

Remember, the work you put in up front when designing your application process will make all the difference in the world when it comes to weeding out horrible tenants. Your properties are a huge investment, and renting them out can be a great source of income, but each bad experience will be expensive. Contact us today for a free evaluation and demo, and let us help set you up for success.

This entry was posted in Background Screening, General, Tenant Screening and tagged , , , by RJ Frasca. Bookmark the permalink.

RJ Frasca – Director of Marketing & Communications RJ Frasca joined Active Screening in 2013. Mr. Frasca has nearly 20 years of marketing experience and has worked with numerous high profile companies such as Yahoo, Microsoft, Time Warner, and Verizon on various marketing campaigns. Mr. Frasca has extensive experience in digital marketing, public relations and online community management, and is a well-known and respected social media strategist and thought leader. Mr. Frasca is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with Active Screening customers, and continually educating them on best practices within the industry.
Active ScreeningBarbara S.
Healthcare Industry

"Here at Holland Hospital, we have been extremely pleased with Active Screening. The report results come back quickly, usually within 24 hours or less.  The staff at Active Screening is easy accessible, knowledgeable and responds to our questions promptly."

Active ScreeningLynn C. Staffing Industry

"Benton Mobley has been and remains my Main point of contact at Active Screening from the beginning; so aside from the comfort of dealing with the same person all these years, there is the most important fact of all;  customer satisfaction. Benton knows the business like the back of his hand; and that is what we need in our fast paced industry of staffing. He is the all-time BEST!  MY employer, Leslie, believes in the notion that great service deserves to be rewarded, so we are here for the duration.We get immediate and personalized attention for any and all concerns we need addressed, and in the staffing industry, this is vital."

Active ScreeningCayce R. Education Industry

"My experience working with Active Screening for our background check process has been very positive.  The reports are almost always completed in a very timely fashion. The information reported appears to be very thorough and accurate.  On the rare occasions that we have questions or problems, the customer service team is always very quick to respond and resolve the issue.  Overall, I am very pleased with the service I receive from Active Screening."

Active ScreeningCraig H. Staffing Industry

"Your customer service is excellent.  The turn around time on background checks is quite fast.  Excellent work.  I haven't had a single problem."

Active ScreeningJackie C. Education Industry

"I wanted to thank you and your staff for being so patient and working so diligently with the Human Resources staff during our recent endeavor to process all of our work study students through background screenings.  We have never had to process so many requests within such a short period of time before, but thanks to you and your staff we made it. Again thank you, we made a good choice in selecting Active Screening."

Active ScreeningLindsey W.  Financial Industry

"I wanted to share my appreciation for your wonderful service...switching background screening companies could have been a stressful task, but your company made the transition seamless. Your website was extremely easy to navigate and the turn around time has been great. I appreciate when information is missing or entered incorrectly during ordering, your company notifies me right away to ensure that my error does not hold the reports results, causing us a delay in hiring an individual...Active Screening has been great to us and I would definitely refer them to others."

Active ScreeningTerry S. Property Management

"Working with Active Screening over the last year and half has been a wonderful experience. They deliver fast and informative results at the best price. Their level of professionalism and the speed they respond to our issues is a benefit that any company can value from. I would highly recommend using Active Screening and their amazing team."

Active ScreeningYulesis D.  Staffing Industry

“Interactive Response Technologies (IRT) has more than 2,000 employees at multiple locations across the United States. IRT has been using Active Screening to conduct criminal background checks since 2006. During this time, Active Screening has consistently returned accurate reports, usually with less than 48 hours turnaround. If there are any problems or inconsistencies with the reports, their staff has called to notify us so that we can attempt to rectify the situation. The staff at Active Screening is always courteous and congenial over the phone. In our opinion, Active Screening is outstanding.”

Active ScreeningAndy N. Software Provider

 "Active Screening has helped us screen our applicants in record time for more than two years.... we are very impressed with the professionalism and speed with which their service team responds to our questions. They understand our needs and are a pleasure to work with. I highly recommend them."

Active ScreeningCassie J. Staffing Industry

"The Active Screening team is very informative; they provided a complete consultation on all the services, so I understood what I needed, and saved me hours and hours of my time learning the various services. Their reputation, as being on the cutting edge of employment screening best practices, certainly held true in this instance. The expertise they brought to the table was invaluable to our understanding of our applicants backgrounds. I highly recommend Active Screening to anyone with the task of screening large numbers of applicants and needing reliable customer support."

Active Screening

With over 20 years of law enforcement experience I can attest to the fact that the strongest predictor of future criminal behavior is a person’s criminal history. As the manager of campus safety at my church, I depend on Active Screening to provide a thorough assessment of every criminal history background check we request. For more than 3 years, Active Screening has been faithful to this task with timely, accurate and reliable service.

Active Screening

We have benefited from knowing that we are not exposing the communities we work with or ourselves to unnecessary risk. We continue to have a perfect record in that we have never had a serious incident with a trip participant causing harm or acting inappropriately with any community member or fellow team member- thank goodness!

Active Screening

I would highly recommend any association or organization who conducts background checks to use Active Screening. In addition to my involvement with WAHA, I am an officer in a corporation with over 500 employees who provide treatment, mental health, and correctional services for children and adolescents. Our company is mandated by law to do comprehensive background searches and I can say with the utmost sincerity that Active Screening product rivals that of any government or other private sector process.

Active Screening

We have used Active Screening and their solution VERITY to screen all our coaches and volunteers working with youth. The online system gives us an easy and cost-effective solution to collecting forms and payments from our applicants...and we simply login to view the results of who passed or failed. It's so easy....thank you Active Screening.