Background Checks for Tenant Screening: Best Practices

Tenant screening is a crucial process for landlords and property managers to ensure the safety and security of their rental properties and the well-being of other tenants. One essential component of this process is conducting background checks on potential tenants. To maintain a fair and effective screening process, it is essential to follow best practices when conducting criminal background checks.

Establish a Clear and Consistent Policy

First and foremost, it helps to establish a clear and consistent policy for conducting background checks. This policy should be applied uniformly to all applicants, regardless of their race, gender, age, or any other protected characteristic, to avoid potential discrimination issues. The policy should also comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations that govern tenant screening, which may vary depending on your location. By having a transparent and legally compliant policy, you can minimize the risk of lawsuits and discrimination claims.

Focus on Relevant Information

When conducting tenant screenings and background checks, it's important to focus on relevant information. When it comes to criminal background checks, you want to look for convictions rather than simply arrests or charges, as arrests do not necessarily indicate guilt. Typically, you would be interested in criminal offenses related to violence, drugs, property damage, or fraud, as these can directly affect the safety and security of your property and other tenants. However, you should also consider the nature, severity, and recency of the convictions. For example, a minor traffic violation from several years ago may be less relevant than a recent conviction for theft.

Obtain Proper Consent

Additionally, ensure that you obtain proper consent from the prospective tenant before conducting a background check. Written authorization is generally required, and the tenant must be aware of the purpose and implications of the check. Additionally, follow the guidelines set forth by the Fair Credit Reporting Act when using a screening company like Landlord Tenant Screening. This includes notifying the applicant if the information in the report leads to any unfavorable action, such as a denial of tenancy, and provides them with an opportunity to dispute any inaccurate information.

Regular Review and Continuous Improvement

To maintain the effectiveness of your tenant screening process, it's essential to engage in regular review and continuous improvement. Your tenant screening policies and procedures should evolve with changing laws and regulations. Periodic reviews of your screening process can help you stay up to date and ensure you are following any new legal requirements.

In conclusion, conducting tenant screenings, including criminal background checks, can be a vital step in maintaining a safe and secure rental property. To do so effectively and ethically, it's essential to establish a clear and consistent policy, focus on relevant information, and adhere to legal requirements and best practices. By following these guidelines, landlords and property managers can make informed decisions that protect their properties and the well-being of their tenants while minimizing the risk of any legal complications.

Pros and Cons of Co-Signers in Tenant Screening

The Role of Co-Signers in Tenant Screening

Co-signers can play a crucial role in tenant screening, offering both advantages and disadvantages for landlords and property managers. A co-signer is an individual who signs the lease agreement alongside the primary tenant, taking on the responsibility of covering rent payments or other financial obligations if the tenant fails to do so. Parents and students, siblings, domestic partners, and roommates are common examples of co-signers. Understanding the pros and cons of co-signers can help landlords make informed decisions when assessing prospective tenants.

Pros of Co-Signers in Tenant Screening

One of the primary benefits of having a co-signer is increased security for landlords. When a tenant has a co-signer with a strong financial background, it reduces the risk of back rent and property damage. This can give landlords greater peace of mind. Co-signers can also be valuable in cases where tenants have limited credit history or income, making them more likely to meet their financial obligations with the additional support of the co-signer.

Cons of Co-Signers in Tenant Screening

However, there are potential drawbacks to relying on co-signers in tenant screening. One major concern is that it may limit the pool of eligible tenants since not everyone has access to someone willing to co-sign for them. This could lead to discrimination or exclusion of otherwise qualified tenants who lack a co-signer. Additionally, co-signers are not a guaranteed solution, as they may also face financial difficulties, making it challenging to collect owed rent if the primary tenant defaults.

When to Consider Co-Signers

When considering co-signers in tenant screening, landlords should weigh the pros and cons and use them judiciously. It's a good idea to consider co-signers when dealing with young or first-time renters who may have limited financial histories but are otherwise promising tenants. Additionally, co-signers can be beneficial in situations where the tenant's income is borderline insufficient to cover the rent or when a roommate arrangement ensures that each tenant is accountable for their share of the rent.

In conclusion, the use of co-signers in tenant screening can be a valuable tool for landlords seeking added security in their rental agreements. Tenant screenings and background checks offer the benefit of reduced financial risk, especially when dealing with tenants who may not have a strong credit history or income. However, landlords should exercise caution and not solely rely on co-signers as a foolproof solution. It's essential to assess each situation individually and consider co-signers when they genuinely enhance the reliability of the tenant without discriminating against potentially qualified renters. Choose Landlord Tenant Screenings for all your background check needs to evaluate future tenants and co-signers.

Tenant Screening for Short-Term Rentals

Unique Challenges and Considerations

Tenant screening for short-term rentals, including those on platforms like Airbnb, can present a distinct set of challenges and considerations for hosts and property managers. Unlike traditional long-term rentals, short-term rentals often result in a higher turnover of guests, making it imperative to ensure the safety and security of the property. Here are some of the unique aspects and challenges of tenant screening when it comes to short-term rentals:

Rapid Turnover

Short-term rentals typically involve a higher frequency of guests compared to long-term leases. Landlords and hosts must be efficient in their screening processes to accommodate quick turnovers, often relying on automated systems and third-party screening services like Landlord Tenant Screening to streamline the vetting of potential tenants. The quick pace of arrivals and departures can also mean that hosts may have a more limited time for thorough background checks, depending on the type of property and length of stay.

Review-Based Systems

Platforms like Airbnb rely heavily on guest and host reviews to establish trust. Hosts may review guests, and guests may review properties, which can offer valuable insights into a guest's behavior and trustworthiness. Hosts should carefully assess these reviews and consider them as part of the screening process since they can offer a personalized and real-time perspective on potential guests. However, it is important to note that review-based systems do not take into consideration the details that a Tenant Background Search would.

Identity Verification

Short-term rentals will typically require guests and renters to provide government-issued identification along with basic background information. Landlords of short-term rentals should ensure that these details match the information provided by renters and take advantage of identity verification tools like Tenant Background Search tools. Verifying guest identities can be a crucial step in minimizing risks associated with short-term rentals.

Security Deposits and Insurance

Some short-term rental websites allow hosts to set security deposits or offer insurance options to protect their property. While these mechanisms do not replace tenant screening, they can provide an extra layer of security for landlords. Hosts should consider setting appropriate security deposit amounts and encouraging guests to purchase insurance coverage, particularly for high-value properties.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Short-term rentals are subject to various legal and regulatory requirements, which may include zoning laws, taxation, and safety standards. Tenants should be aware of and adhere to these regulations to avoid potential legal complications. Screening tenants should also include an understanding of these legal obligations to ensure that potential renters are following local laws.

In conclusion, tenant screening for short-term rentals and online platforms comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. Managing turnover, reliance on review-based systems, identity verification, security deposits, and legal compliance are all key elements in ensuring a safe and secure hosting experience. Property managers and landlords must strike a balance between efficiency and thoroughness in their screening processes to protect their properties and maintain the integrity of their short-term rental business, and Tenant Background Search is here to help.

Credit Checks vs. Background Checks: Which Is Better for Landlords?

Landlords face a crucial decision when it comes to tenant screening: Should they prioritize credit checks or background checks? It's a common dilemma, as both types of checks provide valuable information about prospective tenants. Credit checks reveal an individual's financial history and responsibility, while background checks shed light on their criminal and rental history. But the truth is that neither is more important than the other, as they create a full picture of an applicant that a landlord must understand.

Credit Checks: Assessing Financial Responsibility

Credit checks provide landlords with a glimpse into a potential tenant's financial past and present. Both the score and the factors listed on the report can help a landlord understand things like:

• Financial Responsibility: Credit reports show an applicant's credit history, including their payment history, outstanding debts, and credit utilization. A good credit score suggests financial responsibility, which is a positive indicator for landlords.

• Risk Assessment: By reviewing credit reports, landlords can assess the risk associated with renting to a particular applicant. A low credit score or a history of unpaid debts may raise concerns about the tenant's ability to pay rent consistently.

• Consistency: Credit checks offer standardized data that can be compared easily among applicants. This consistency can help landlords make fair and informed decisions.

However, it's essential to recognize the limitations of relying solely on credit checks. Some applicants may have a limited credit history or a lower credit score due to various factors, such as medical bills or student loans. This could potentially exclude responsible tenants who would otherwise be a great fit.

Background Checks: Ensuring Safety and Rental History

Background checks delve into an applicant's past beyond their financial aspects. They encompass criminal history, eviction history, and rental references. Background checks are valuable as they provide information like:

• Safety: Criminal background checks help landlords ensure the safety of their property and other tenants. Identifying potential red flags, such as violent offenses, can prevent risky tenant placements.

• Rental History: Background checks reveal an applicant's rental history, including any prior evictions or lease violations. This information can be crucial in determining if a tenant is likely to be a reliable and respectful occupant.

• Tenant Behavior: Past rental references can provide insights into an applicant's behavior as a tenant. Landlords can learn about issues like noise complaints or property damage, helping them make an informed choice.

Despite their benefits, background checks alone may not provide a complete picture of an applicant's suitability as a tenant. Some individuals with a clean criminal and rental history may still struggle with financial responsibilities.

Why You Need Both Credit and Background Checks

In the credit checks vs. background checks debate, the answer is not one or the other; it's both. To make well-rounded and informed decisions when selecting tenants, landlords should combine the strengths of both approaches.

A comprehensive screening process that includes both credit and background checks offers a holistic view of a tenant's qualifications. It allows landlords to assess financial responsibility, evaluate rental history, and ensure the safety and well-being of their property. By using both types of checks, landlords can mitigate risks and increase the likelihood of finding reliable and responsible tenants.

At Tenant Background Search, we offer both background and credit checks to ensure that you have all the information you need to rent your property.

How to Spot a Fake Rental Reference

When it comes to ensuring the success of your landlord-tenant relationship, thorough tenant screening is critical. An essential aspect of this process is checking the rental references provided by applicants. Unfortunately, not all references are genuine, and some individuals may attempt to deceive landlords with fake references. Below are some tricks to catching these fake references that landlords should always keep in mind before moving forward with a tenant.

Verify Contact Information and Details

The initial step in determining the authenticity of a rental reference is to carefully verify the contact information and details provided by the applicant. Pay close attention to elements such as contact information, property details, and dates of tenancy.

Start by confirming the accuracy of the phone number and email address provided for the previous landlord. Make sure they are valid and align with the contact information listed on the rental application. Fake references often supply incorrect or disconnected contact details.

Additionally, scrutinize the property details mentioned in the reference, ensuring they match the information provided in the applicant's rental history. Inconsistencies or vague descriptions may raise suspicions of a fake reference. Lastly, cross-check the dates of the applicant's tenancy with the reference. If the reference cannot provide specific dates or offers conflicting information, it could indicate a fake reference.

Speak with the Previous Landlord

One of the most effective ways to ascertain the validity of a rental reference is to engage in direct communication with the previous landlord. During this conversation, it's crucial to ask detailed questions, listen to the reference's tone and knowledge, and verify their identity.

Ask specific questions about the applicant's tenancy, including their rent payment history, any instances of lease violations, and the condition of the property upon move-out. Genuine landlords will be able to provide precise details regarding these aspects. Pay attention to the tone and knowledge displayed by the reference. A legitimate landlord should possess a good understanding of the tenant's history and can offer specific information about their time as a tenant.

Also, ensure you verify the identity of the person you are speaking with. Ask for their name, the property's address, and their relationship to the applicant. Be cautious if the reference hesitates or provides inconsistent information, as these could be indicators of a fake reference.

Search for an Online Presence

In today's digital age, many individuals and businesses leave a digital footprint. To further validate a rental reference, consider conducting a brief online search.

Start by checking if the reference or the property management company has a presence on social media platforms. This can provide additional confirmation of their identity and legitimacy. Additionally, explore online reviews and listings for the property management company or landlord. Legitimate references often have an online reputation that you can find quickly.

Finally, consult online directories or property management databases to see if the reference or the property management company is listed. These sources can be valuable in verifying their existence and credibility.

Spotting a fake rental reference requires a meticulous and detail-oriented approach. By verifying contact information, engaging in meaningful conversations with previous landlords, and conducting online research, landlords can significantly reduce the risk of being deceived by deceptive rental references. It's essential to remember that comprehensive tenant screening, which includes multiple checks such as credit and background checks from Tenant Background Search, remains a fundamental practice in selecting reliable and responsible tenants for your property.

Common Cases of Tenant Fraud and How to Avoid Them

Today, the rental property industry seems to be making a move towards a more fully online process. There are virtual walkthroughs for tenants to view properties and online applications to move forward in the rental process. While the ease of completing everything online is a convenience, it can also be harder to spot fraud. Instances of fraud in the rental industry are on the rise. To avoid being taken advantage of, be aware of these top cases of tenant fraud.

Synthetic Fraud

If someone has failed a background check before, they may be hesitant to use correct information for fear of failing again. With synthetic fraud, an applicant instead uses all false information to fill in the application process. Nothing used is actually correct or valid information. Instead, the application is pieced together with both stolen and fabricated information. For example, the potential renter could be using the social security number of a person that is deceased instead of their own. Hopefully, thorough background checks in place during the application process will alert rental property owners to this issue so that it can be addressed before a property is rented out to someone it shouldn't be.

Identity Manipulation Fraud

Similar to Synthetic Fraud, identity manipulation fraud doesn't use accurate information. However, in this instance, information on the application is only slightly changed and not completely falsified. This could be something as simple as putting down a different birthday or changing just one number in their social security number. The majority of the information is correct, but just a few numbers here or there are changed slightly to manipulate the complete identity of a potential renter.

First-Person Fraud

Not everyone who applies for a rental property under their name is going to be accepted, and if they have filled out applications and been rejected before, they know this. To avoid this problem, as a workaround, some may fill in the application with the name of a family member or friend instead of themselves. The information may all be correct and the application may pass all background checks, but the person who submitted the application is not the person that intends to live at the actual address of the rental property.

Third-Party Fraud

Third-party fraud is when someone attempts to steal another person's identity and use that information on a rental application. If you are familiar with identity theft, then you understand third-party fraud. The person putting down the information on an application has no relationship with the name and information of the person they used to actually fill out the application. This case of fraud is potentially damaging to many, specifically the person whose identity was stolen.

Fraud of any kind can be frustrating for rental property owners or managers. It is important to do a complete background check into potential tenants to make sure there are no suspected cases of fraud. Tenant Background Search can help with this process. We have safety measures in place to help prevent instances of tenant fraud. Contact us today to find more information about our services.

What Potential Tenants Are Looking for in a Landlord

Experienced landlords know that it is in their best interest to do a very thorough screening of prospective tenants. This process involved checking references, doing a background check, looking into places of work or previous addresses, credit checks, and more. But what if it's also the other way around and potential future tenants are also doing their research on you? If this is the case, you want to be the ones that stand out a league above everyone else. So what exactly might prospective tenants be looking for from those they are looking to rent from?

Professional Behavior

First and foremost, professionalism is an important quality to display. Tenants want businesspeople who take their roles as landlords seriously. How you present yourself and the first impression you make could be important to gaining tenants. Being a part of business associations also shows that you are serious about operating a business.


Next to professionalism, a great reputation is also key. It's sometimes through word of mouth that tenants may hear about rental properties opening up. If you have a reputation for being a business that is great to rent from, it's more likely tenants will come seeking you out. People will talk, and if they do, what will be said about you?


When it comes to finding a place to live, tenants want to know that the person they are dealing with is dependable. Will they do what they say they will do? Will they follow through? This plays a large part in whether or not they choose to live at one property or another. Phone calls should be answered or returned promptly. Be available when you say you will. If tenants know you are reliable, they will appreciate the gesture and know they can depend on you when needed.


It never looks good to a future tenant to appear disorganized. Organization when running any type of business is a crucial component to being successful. It gives tenants peace of mind when they see papers are ready to be signed right away and processes are documented properly. All renter forms such as background checks, lease agreements, emergency contacts, and more should be readily available and within reach, as needed.

Communication and Honesty

Being on the same page is only achieved through communication. A tenant appreciates honest communication. Be truthful about pointing out all aspects of the rental property. Communicate any upfront issues the renter may need to be aware of. Give them all the appropriate information so they can make an informed decision that suits their needs. Start out all tenant and landlord or business relationships on a positive and respectful note. A positive working relationship goes a long way in any type of business.

While you may not realize a tenant is also checking you out, it is still good to be prepared should it happen. Have all your bases covered and be prepared at all times. For more information about being prepared with tenant background searches, reach out to us today.

Top Four Warning Signs of a Bad Tenant

Performing a background and credit check are both great ways to get an initial overall impression of a potential tenant, but they don't tell you everything you need to know to find a great tenant. Observation during the initial interview, as well as following your initial instincts, can also help determine if a tenant is the right fit. Watch for these top 4 red flags that may be an indication that unwanted issues could potentially arise.

Frequent Moving

If on a tenant application, several frequent moves are listed, that could be a red flag for landlords. Unless a tenant has a reason for multiple moves, such as working in the military, moving often could be a warning sign that a potential renter either didn't pay rent on time or disregarded lease terms that led to termination. This could mean added time and expense for you as the landlord if you move forward with the application. Including reasons on the application for why renters left previous addresses could help you determine if the renter is a risk or not.

Questioning the Background Check

If, during the application process, an applicant seems to over-question the application and background process or states that going through this process is a "sham" or "waste of time," it could clue landlords into possible problems. Tenants have a right to a copy of their background checks, but if they try to pass off these checks as meaningless or invalid, chances are they are covering up for something. Responsible tenants expect to be screened and are prepared to move forward with the process in a timely manner.

Short Moving Period

It's always a good idea to look more closely at potential tenants that seem in a rush to move in. This could be a sign that they are looking to move into a place quickly before dealing with an issue with their current landlord. Rushing into another unit or place could be meant to avoid paying for damage to a previous rental unit, trying to get out of a lease early, or trying to avoid an impending eviction. Tenants that are responsible will leave themselves ample time to find a lease and a place that is right for them.


Possible tenants that are constantly late to showings or appointments or don't seem to call back when they say they will could raise a red flag. If a renter always has excuses and doesn't seem to want to take responsibility for any tardiness or mistakes, it could transfer over into them as a tenant as well. They may try to make excuses for damage to the unit or may not want to own their part in anything that comes up over their time living there. Although mistakes do happen, a potential tenant's character, even during the application process, can show a lot about them.

Keep these potential problems in mind when choosing your next tenant. While first impressions say a lot about someone, be sure to be observant and listen to your instincts. It could save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

3 Tips for Choosing the Best Tenant Screening Company

Tenant screening is a vital part of protecting rentals. Whether you have rentals for a business, retirement plant, or simply to add to your assets and portfolio, it's imperative that you do what you can to protect your income. Choosing the right tenant is key to doing just that. Don't take any chances when it comes to choosing renters. Choose a screening company that can help you make the right choices. Consider these tips for selecting a screening company.

Bare Minimum Isn't Enough

Some tenant screening programs can tell you basic facts. Of course, you want to make sure that your tenants have a decent credit score. Yes, you probably would want to know that you aren't renting to a known violent criminal. But random pieces of information aren't always enough to get the full picture of a potential renter. The bare minimum isn't enough. You will want a comprehensive report that validates the full identity of a future tenant. Comprehensive reports should Include information such as background checks, credit reports, bankruptcies, checking account history, total debt, monthly debt, in addition to criminal history. This is the best way to ensure you are selecting the right applicant.

Nothing Is Truly Free

Many screening sites will advertise a $0 screening cost to the landlord. While this seems like a great deal, nothing is really ever free. All these sites are doing is passing the cost of screening off from you as the landlord to your tenant. And remember, your tenants are falling on hard times as well. High application fees can turn potentially respectable tenants away, especially those renters who are more financially conservative.

Support Is a Must

When considering a tenant screening site, it is crucial to consider the amount of support offered to customers. When you have a question about the screening process, you don't want to sit on hold for hours to get the help you need, nor do you want to be given the runaround until you can find the answers you are looking for. While you are waiting for support, good tenants will go fast. Choose a screening company that will answer your phone calls in a timely manner to provide you with the necessary support when you need it. Avoid screening sites that will buy you calls in queues. Also, try to find support that can also take after-hours calls when you are in a pinch. The more support you have when needed, the better your chances of finding quality tenants.

Just as it is important that you choose the right tenants for your rental properties, it is equally important that you choose the right screening services to find those tenants. Evaluate your priorities and choose the screening service company that is the best fit for your needs. After all, screening is the best option you have as a landlord to protect your property and your future.

How Tenant Background Checks Can Save You Money

Performing background checks can help you find tenants that are reliable, responsible, and upstanding, which can help you save money in the long run. Tenants who are reliable are more likely to pay their rent on time and a background check can provide you with information about a potential tenant to help you make the best choice for your property. Before establishing a rental agreement with a potential tenant, invest in tenant background checks to help you save time, money, and energy in the process.

When renters are looking for a place to live, there are many aspects of the search that affect their choices, including monthly rental prices and location relative to work, family, and friends. Most of the time, renters want to find a place that feels like home, and you as a landlord want them to treat their home with respect. Similarly, you as a landlord have certain qualifications in mind for the type of renter you want to trust on your property. A thorough rental application should include a tenant background check that allows you to pre-screen candidates and collect additional information that helps you make the best decision.

Tenant background checks provide you with the following information so you can make an informed decision.

Employment History

Perhaps the most important factor in selecting a prospective tenant is whether or not they will be able to make their rent payments. A tenant background check provides landlords with the employment history, which can help inform you of whether or not this person has a reliable and consistent income. An appealing prospective tenant may not have significant gaps of time without employment or a history of frequent job loss. It helps to get a picture of a prospective tenant's current and past employment for a more comprehensive understanding of their financial reliability and responsibility.

Criminal History

A criminal past doesn't need to automatically disqualify someone from a rental agreement, though a tenant background check will provide you with more context so a discussion can be had about any criminal history. There are certain red flags you want to look out for, though, when it comes to criminal record history, especially those that involve money. A criminal history of fraud or tax evasion can be a red flag that this person may not be a reliable tenant or they may not demonstrate the level of fiscal responsibility you are looking for in a future tenant.

Rental History

One of the most helpful ways to find out whether a potential tenant will be a reliable and trustworthy renter is their rental history. A tenant background check will provide you with a detailed rental history, which will show their history of rental agreements, as well as any history of eviction or other red flags that might make you wary, like frequent moves or large gaps in reported residence. A potential tenant who has lived under one rental agreement for a long period of time can be a positive sign that they are able to maintain the requirements of a responsible tenant.

More Entries