Tenant Background Checks Are on The Rise – What You Need to Know

The housing rental industry is booming. “From 31 percent in 2004, the renter share of all US households climbed to 35 percent in 2012, bringing the total number to 43 million by early 2013,” reports this study from Harvard University.

As the rental industry continues its extreme growth – out-performing every other housing sector there is – the tenant screening industry has exploded, too. With that explosion, though, comes two very important lessons for property managers and would-be tenants.

Re-verify Leases

The first lesson comes courtesy of an investigative report conducted by a local television news station in Austin, Texas. The report uncovered an alarming trend among criminals who are finding ways to circumvent the typical background check requirement of renting an apartment.

Most legitimate – and safe – apartment complexes, condominium buildings and even single-family-home neighborhoods have strict screening requirements and policies against renting to people with certain criminal convictions. Felony convictions will get you eliminated from consideration, as will any violent, sex, or personal or property crimes.

Still, it seems some criminals have found a way to by-pass those background checks. The report from Austin shows at least two men with serious criminal pasts have found apartment rentals by simply not adding their names to the lease – they let their girlfriend put it in her name.

How did property managers uncover the deception? The criminals allegedly tried to rob their own neighbors.

The loophole obviously is something that needs to be closed. One of the options at your disposal is to require a re-verification of background checks of everyone living at the apartment, not just those whose names are on the lease, when your tenant’s lease expires.

For more information on how to implement this, please contact one of our knowledgeable team members at (800) 319-5580.

You Get What You Pay For

We all know that 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.

But many landlords and/or property managers appear to be confused at what constitutes a thorough background check and what type of screening agency should be performing it.

This lesson comes to us from a situation in Virginia, where a mom found out she was ‘flagged’ as a bad tenant after a data-mining company sent incorrect information to prospective landlords. The problem stemmed from a damage claim made by a previous tenant for some property damage the woman’s developmentally-disabled son made. She paid for the damage but the data-mining company made the incorrect assumption that she had been evicted.

Data-mining companies often purport themselves to offer thorough background checks, but often their information is inaccurate, untimely, and incomplete.

Attorney Janet Portman, author of “Every Tenant’s Legal Guide” gives advice on background-check policies, as reported by Trulia. She says, “These companies purport to have access to criminal conviction databases, but often are inaccurate and incomplete. They depend on local courthouses reporting the data regularly and accurately – they can’t ensure it; all they can do is regularly upload data.”

The only way to get a truly thorough background check is to partner with a nationally-accredited screening agency like Active Screening. We have cultivated an industry-leading program to assist landlords and property managers in getting the most accurate background check reports available for prospective tenants.

Our background checks include verifying identity, gathering references from employers and former landlords, criminal history, eviction history. Our tenant credit check establishes 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

We know you’re bound to have more questions about this complicated topic. Lucky for you, our talented team of experts have the answers. Leave us a comment below, shoot us an email or give us a call at 1 (800) 319-5580.

We’d love to help you make an informed and educated decision about your background check options.

This entry was posted in Background Screening, Criminal Records, General, Identity & Credit, Industry Solutions, News, References & Credentialing, Tenant Screening and tagged , , , , by Patricia Carlson. Bookmark the permalink.

Patricia Carlson is a content writer who specializes in B2C and B2B inbound marketing. She blogs regularly for clients about the background screening and finance industries, and generates newsletters, white papers and email campaigns for a variety of businesses. Patricia also produces a heavy rotation of editorial material for home design, law enforcement, and family magazines. She’s been writing professionally for more than a dozen years, and for Active Screening for more than two of those. Check out LinkedIn for a roster of Patricia's clients and links to published works. When she’s not interviewing sources or researching trends, she’s living a fast-paced Florida life questioning the antics of her two young children, partner and mischievous cat. Patricia loves to talk tennis and TV on Twitter - give her a shout @pattycfreelance.
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."

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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

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Active ScreeningCassie J. Staffing Industry

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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

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