How to Check Someone's Credit

Before you approve a potential tenant's rental application, it's important that you do a complete credit check on the applicant. Tenant Background Search offers an easy online option for running a background and credit check so you can verify their identity and confirm they are a suitable renter for your property. Here are 5 steps to checking someone's credit:

Step 1: Meet with Potential Tenant

While many people are looking for the best place to rent, you as the landlord are also looking for the best candidate to be a tenant on your property. Meeting in person is a great way to get the conversation started about what the potential tenant is looking for in a rental property and why they may have chosen to leave another rental opportunity. Additionally, an informal introductory conversation can tell you a lot about a future tenant, from where they work, to their lifestyle interests, to how many friends or family they plan to live with. All these factors affect whether or not a tenant is the right fit for your property.

Step 2: Review the Application

Whether or not you are able to meet in person, it is helpful to have a conversation with a potential tenant before the application process begins. That personal connection can help when they have questions or help you feel more comfortable in asking all the right questions. The application should include the potential tenant's basic information, such as their full name, date of birth, employment history, and living history for at least two years. You may also want to request proof of employment and proof of income, as well as contact information for their most recent rental experience.

Step 3: Request a Credit Check

Part of the application process should include an explanation of the credit check and what type of information you as the landlord are looking for. You will need to seek permission from the applicant before running a background or credit check. Once you receive their permission, use a service like Tenant Background Search to meet all your needs.

Step 4: Credit Check with Tenant Services

Tenant Background Search is a comprehensive screening tool for landlords to easily check someone's credit and receive a report fast. The service is reliable and user-friendly, with no hidden fees or extra hoops to jump through. The process is simple and straightforward, and there are customer service representatives available 24/7 to address any questions or concerns you may have during the process.

Step 5: Review the Report

An accurate and affordable report from Tenant Background Search Standard Plus Tenant Screening package includes a credit report with Fico score, information on the tenant's history of bankruptcies, foreclosures, collections, and other financial information. This information is obviously sensitive, and you can rely on Tenant Background Search to provide a safe and secure service. The comprehensive report offers a thorough assessment of the applicant and helps you assess the feasibility of the applicant as a potential tenant for your property.

Red Flags During Tenant Background Checks

Property Managers and landlords typically understand the importance of having a background check process for potential tenants. Proper background screenings can help to ensure your property is safe, well maintained, and desirable; it can also save money in the long run by ensuring you don't lease to someone without solid financials. Many of these problems can be easily spotted during a routine screening. For example, a tenant with very poor credit or a criminal history may give you immediate pause. Eviction history is also a common warning sign that a tenant is not a good fit for a property. But even before sending off for credit and criminal history, the process of screening can begin. You can take careful notice of behaviors and reactions to gauge if somebody is the optimal tenant starting from your first interaction. Look out for behaviors like the following.

First Contact

When responding to your vacancy ad, a potential tenant should follow any instructions given and know the basic information you provided. If you post a 2 bedroom and ask for email inquiries, and someone calls you to ask about a 3 bedroom, there is already a disconnect there. The worst-case scenario is often somebody showing up and disturbing current tenants in an order to gather information. An applicant who starts off badly may not be worth further conversations.

Application Etiquette

Any qualified tenant understands that an application is part of the process and should be prepared to fill one out. If they do have concerns about what may show up on their background check, they should share those with you beforehand rather than attempt to hide the information. If an applicant pushes back on the required paperwork, there is already a chance something is askew. Once they do fill out an application, it should be treated seriously and professionally. Lots of blank spaces or errors may be simple negligence, but can also be at attempt to mislead you with false information.


Many people are looking to move out after living with family members, and no one should be written off for listing family members as references. However, if these are the only references they can provide or their additional references do not seem legitimate, this could be cause for concern. Family members are sometimes listed to avoid landlord contact, so you should reach out to them and treat the family member like a landlord. Ask all the questions you typically would to gauge if this person truly lived with the family member or not.

Rental History

While eviction history is an obvious worry, you may see other aspects of a tenant's history that can be concerning. If somebody moves often within the same city, you may want to dig into this further. This can indicate someone who is moving out to avoid evictions or is perhaps a difficult tenant. More than 3 addresses in the previous 5 years is usually enough to raise eyebrows during the application process and should lead to further questioning.

There are numerous things that can arise during the tenant background check process, but make sure to always comply with fair housing laws and provide legitimate reasons for rejecting applicants. These guidelines provide a starting point in determining when a tenant is not fit for your vacancy.

Additions to Your Lease Agreement That Might Have Positive Effects On Your Tenant Screening Process

The job of a landlord can be complicated and arduous at times, particularly when there are holes in their screening process for finding quality tenants. Many landlords are motivated by the promise of profit and good investment, but inexperienced in the discipline of screening tenants effectively and having confirmed tenants agree to reasonable terms in their lease agreement. It is our aim at Tenant Background Search to provide the tools to prevent mishaps before they have a chance to damage your community or property for good. If prevention isn't possible, it is at least wise of us to learn from the experiences of others and not pay the "stupid tax."

Establish Timelines for Landlord Entry - Inspections of rental properties are an excellent idea because they can provide a layer of transparency that helps prevent damage to your property and other issues from occurring. These inspections should be outlined in the lease agreement from the onset of your relationship with your tenant. This clarity provision can create an environment in which you as a landlord see the lowest property damages possible because of your involvement. That being said, it is important that other instances that would require landlord entry be outlined as well. In general, tenants should be given 24 hours notice before they can expect to see their landlord or contract workers in their unit or property. The only exception provided for is in the event of an emergency scenario or in the case of a tenant asking to see the landlord on his or her own timeline.

Consider a Reporting Policy for Rent Payments - Newer technology allows landlords to report on-time rent payments to credit bureaus. This is a very helpful tool for both the landlord and the tenant... provided that payments are actually made on time and in full. The landlord can utilize this reporting policy to enforce on-time payments and decrease the burden on their shoulders of hunting down checks from tenants. Knowing that the payments will be reported each month without exception is a strong motivator for tenants to be on time. Tenants will also enjoy the credit benefits of being reported on so often as a positive tenant. Renters don't often enjoy the same benefits as homeowners, but in this case, they can enjoy similar perks.

Guest Policy and Subletting Rules - It is key to establish a guest policy and subletting rules from the beginning of a lease agreement. Guests that are either unwanted or unscreened can really pose a problem to landlords, as well as other tenants. If a guest is going to reside on your property for an extended period of time, they should go through a similar screening process to your tenants who are actually on the lease agreement for the place. Additionally, the potential for sublet conflicts should be headed off and addressed with a policy in the lease agreement. Vacation rentals, such as Airbnb and VRBO should be addressed in this section as well.

3 Ways to Keep Pests Out of Your Rentals & Keep Your Tenants Happy

No one wants pests inside their home, tenants and owners included. Signs of pests such as bedbugs, fleas, rodents, or termites are a sure way to deter tenants from wanting to rent your property. One bad experience from a tenant can lead to bad reviews, making your property less appealing and harder to rent out. Follow these 3 tips to keep pests out of your properties and get the most value out of your rentals.

Identify the Problem Area The most important step is to first identify the type of pest in your home and then what is causing the infestation. Look for small cracks or openings where they could be getting in. Seal up holes or cracks to keep pests from making a home there. If it is fleas, treat any animals in the home to attack the infestation at its source. Pests are also attracted to trash and garbage. Clean up any garbage piles or improperly stored food that could be appealing to flies, rats, mice, or other types of pests.

Call In a Professional If a pest infestation is too much for you to handle yourself, call in a professional pest control company to get control of the problem. Setting traps or putting out baits or poisons can be dangerous to people and animals. Sometimes this type of work is best left up to the experienced professionals. Pest control professionals will know the best way to rid pests and rodents from your rental property once and for all. They can use methods that are safe and efficient in order to be sure pests don't come back, your rental is infestation-free, and your renters are highly satisfied. When you have a pest infestation, don't hesitate to call on the professionals.

Prevent the Problem from Happening Again The best thing you can do to keep pests from returning is to stay on top of the problem. Inspect the property often, repair holes or cracks, ensure garbage gets picked up, and if necessary, schedule professional pest companies to come out on a regular basis. The more you stay on top of the problem, the less likely you or your tenants will have to deal with this again. Your tenants will thank you and will be more willing to recommend an owner who has their best interests in mind.

For landlords and property owners, troublesome tenants can be just as frustrating as hard-to-get-rid-of bugs, rodents, and other pests. Once you take care of the pests and have the property as perfect as can be, utilize our services at Tenant Background Search to ensure you're only accepting the most ideal occupants for your property. We screen potential tenants thoroughly and quickly, giving you access to credit scores, criminal records, eviction reports, sex offender registries, and more. The time you take to run a tenant background search will be well worth it when you have nothing but responsible, clean, and financially stable tenants in all of your income properties.

Commercial Leasing to a Business and the Added Risk

When it comes to lease agreements and doing a background check on a tenant, most people consider this a need for only residential, or home rental/landlord, agreements. It's true that these situations should necessitate tenant background checks, but this is not the only case where screenings should be utilized. As more and more people are finding success in the residential rental market, they are acquiring more capital to dabble into the commercial side of the real estate industry. Whether it's a boutique, restaurant, or dry cleaners, it is important to not only do a background and credit check on the business, but also on the individual owners. Even though the potential for profit is higher when leasing commercial property, so too are losses and liabilities.

Residential VS Commercial

When dealing with residential property, you are typically dealing with individuals or families that are looking for a place to live such as a house, apartment, or townhome. What is mostly used in these situations are rental agreements, and properties can be leased for one-year periods or less and rent is paid on a monthly basis. A standard screening is sufficient here and only the working adults need to have a tenant background screening done.

Commercial property is different. This is not a place of residence for the lessee; this contract is for the sole purpose of running a business out of the property. This commercial space should only involve the sale of goods or services, or provide a place where goods are manufactured. Even though commercial renters do not have the same legal protection as residential renters, you still have to protect yourself not only with the lease agreement, but also by knowing what type of business and business owners you are allowing to use your property. The last thing you need is for things to go south on one of your commercial properties and be stuck in a legal battle for an extended period of time.

Protect Your Investment

Besides running an adequate credit check on the business itself and the business owners, it is also important to run background checks on them. You cannot just depend on the three credit bureaus' reports when determining if your commercial tenants will be a low- or high-risk partnership because their reports will only give you their credit history and rating. This is assuming that the business is not a startup and has a credit history to begin with. Do not think it is acceptable to only run a report on the business tax identification number and think that will suffice. For a comprehensive report that can list the owner's credit, criminal record, employment history, and any eviction they have ever had, Tenant Background Search is here to help. You are not only forming a partnership with the business, but you are also forming one with the individual owners. Make sure to protect yourself and your investment in your commercial property by running a comprehensive tenant screening on all owners in the business with Tenant Background Search.

Four Ways Tenant Background Screening Benefits Your Tenants

We know that you have a lot of great reasons for doing tenant background screenings. You want to find the best tenants who are respectful of your property and financially responsible. Most tenants are understanding of these things, and a lot of them may even appreciate your thoughtfulness in selecting tenants. But you're bound to have some prospective tenants who are frustrated at your requirement to complete a background screening. While some people don't want their potential landlords to know their entire financial history (which is probably a red flag), others may just think it's an unnecessary extra step and additional expense. However, when you choose to require tenants to complete a background screening prior to them moving into your property, you actually bring great benefits to your current and future tenants.

It Weeds Out High-Risk Tenants

While tenants may think this doesn't affect them, it actually does. When they're confident that none of their neighbors are criminals or sex offenders, they will sleep easier at night and feel more comfortable in and around the rental property. Tenants don't have to worry that their neighbor is untrustworthy or irresponsible, and they don't have to stress about their car being broken into at night or their apartment being ransacked during the day. Tenant background searches allow residents to trust that you, as a landlord, take pride in your rental property and are committed to serving your responsible tenants to the best of your ability.

It Keeps the Rental Property Safer

Knowing the criminal background of tenants will help you ensure that your property is as safe as possible. It will give your tenants peace of mind to know that their neighbors are good citizens, but it will also keep your property safer all around. Minimizing theft of all kinds, both big and small, will make your property safer and your current tenants happier. At the same time, knowing that your residents have substantial income will help reduce the threat or risk of minor theft. When you're confident that your tenants can pay their bills, they are less likely to resort to thievery in and around the rental property.

Properties Are Better Maintained

As stated above, properties are going to be in better condition when tenants are responsible, respectful individuals. But from a financial standpoint, this is true as well. When tenants pay rent on time, landlords don't have to spend time, energy, and resources tracking residents down to collect the money they are owed. This leaves more time for landlords to address any maintenance issues you may have or take care of any landscaping or trash issues that may arise. Additionally, when landlords receive all the money they're owed, they have more money to spend on keeping the property well maintained.

What Goes Into a Tenant Background Search?

If you're a landlord who is regularly looking for new tenants, you need to know that the tenants you are allowing to live on your property are responsible individuals who are going to treat your property well and pay their rent on time. Obviously, some people will rent your property and may not turn out the exact way you expected, or they may run into an unexpected financial situation that disrupts their ability to pay you on time. However, running a tenant background search will help give you peace of mind that the tenants you're selecting are quality individuals who will be ideal tenants.

Here at Tenant Background Search, we know you want tenants who pay their rent on time each month, who will not break their lease either by moving out early or breaking rules on the lease, and who will respect your property and not damage it in any way. We know you want to avoid evictions at all costs, and you want to avoid having to deal with an unpleasant and irresponsible tenant, so we've created a fast, easy, and affordable tenant screening program that allows you to look at a number of factors to make the best tenant decisions for your property.

Credit Score
While a credit score doesn't tell the whole story, it's a good indication of how responsible a person is with his or her money. Two of our three tenant screening packages include the potential tenant's FICO score so you can see where they stand with the credit bureaus and how reliable of a tenant they may be.

Criminal Records
You want your property to be safe, and you want to know who exactly is living there, so we've included a nationwide criminal records search on all three of our tenant screening packages. They also all include a sex offender search, so you'll know if your applicant has any sort of criminal history anywhere in the United States.

Financial History
Our Standard Plus and Comprehensive Tenant Screening packages both include financial history reports, including bankruptcies, foreclosures, and medical collections information. Regardless of your applicant's credit score, being able to see their financial history is incredibly beneficial in getting a better overall idea of their financial situation.

An employment summary is available in two of our three screening packages. Take a look at your applicant's current and past employment and confirm that what they put on their application is correct and reliable.

Eviction Histories
An eviction history for judgments is available on two of the three packages, and a full nationwide eviction report is available on our top-tier tenant background search.

Background Check Report Details for New Tenants You Shouldn’t Ignore

Renting apartments and homes is a job that requires a lot of attention and detail. When you have new tenants coming on board, then you want to ensure that you're protected. There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you have someone renting from you that doesn't take the responsibility seriously. While there are many types of background checks out there to help you make decisions through the process, there are a few report details that you shouldn't ignore. Here are a few background check reports that you shouldn't ignore and how the information is useful for finding responsible tenants.

Credit Report

One of the most important background check reports you should run is a credit report to ensure that they are paying their bills on time, or at least in the process of resolving issues in a timely manner. While it will be up to you as to how clean you want the credit report to be before renting, make sure you have the information, so you know what to expect from their payment patterns.

Sex Offender Search For some landlords, being a registered sex offender isn't going to be a reason to deny the application. However, it's still a good idea to know if the person renting the space is going to show up for this. Some tenants will do their own search before signing a lease to ensure there aren't sex offenders living in the apartment or surrounding homes.

Employment Summary An employment summary is helpful because it gives you a glimpse into the work pattern of the individual that is trying to rent a home or apartment. If they have held a steady job for a long period of time, you'll have a better chance of locating them if needed, and it shows that they are dependable. Even if they have had multiple jobs, you can gain a better understanding of their financial flow through the year.

Eviction History While some landlords believe in second chances and aren't worried if the tenant has a history of being evicted, others are going to take this seriously, especially if you've been through this before. An eviction can be time-consuming and costly, and when tenants understand the process, they can take advantage of it. Many first-time landlords will make the mistake of not asking for enough information before renting, and eviction history is one of those reports you should not ignore.

Past Address History

Past address history is helpful when you want to know if the person is putting the same address on the application versus what shows up on the report. If they use a different address than what is listed, you should learn more about this to find out why. In some cases, there could be a simple explanation, and in others, it could have to do with a poor relationship with a previous landlord. Either way, knowing this information can be useful when making the best decision when choosing tenants.

4 Mistakes to Avoid if You Are a Landlord

Being a landlord can be a very lucrative and rewarding business, but in order to make a profit, you have to make smart choices. On top of making a profit, you also want to ensure you bring in quality tenants so that you have a less stressful experience and they have a positive one. Even if you already have strategies and systems in place, here are a few common mistakes that are made by landlords so you can avoid them, or stop doing them, so you see the return on your investment.

#1: Not Getting Maintenance Issues Resolved Quickly

If you want to get quality tenants, you are going to have work on building a solid reputation, and the fastest way to get poor reviews and for people to spread negative things about the properties you lease is to ignore maintenance trouble. Make sure that you are proactive when it comes to these issues because not only will tenants appreciate it, but you will save money when you take care of small repairs and keep them from turning into larger issues.

#2: Not Doing a Professional Tenant Screening

Having one good referral or looking at the social media page of a potential tenant is not going to give you the information that will lead to making a wise choice when it comes to selecting tenants. Getting background data such as criminal records, credit scores, sex offender searches, and employee summaries will be leave you confident when leasing. You can even go one step further and get a nationwide eviction report to learn even more about the tenant and if they will be a good fit for you.

#3: Not Focusing on the Bottom Line

When you are renting out a space, you need to focus on the bottom line. Being a landlord is an investment both financially and in terms of time, and can be turned into a lucrative career if you focus on the right things. Make sure you are setting rent at a rate that makes sense for the neighborhood and property, but also generates cash flow. When you set the rent too high, you will find yourself sitting on a vacancy for some time, but when you set it too low, you will not be making as much of a profit, if any. You will need to adjust your numbers depending on the market and reevaluate every so often, so make sure you are crunching those numbers and keeping your bottom line in mind.

#4: Not Taking Location into Consideration

Whether you are deciding to add more homes to your rental portfolio or you are just getting started on your journey, make sure you take into account the location because it will be a significant factor in your success. Find a location that is in-demand and you will have a larger pool of potential tenants to pull from. Find areas that have a draw for renters such as close proximity to public transportation, amenities like shopping and dining, and if you are near colleges and universities, this can also provide a big group of people that are looking for a rental space to live.

Should Landlords Pursue Military Members as Tenants?

Savvy landlords are proactive in choosing and purchasing the right properties for their clients. In order to do that, they must have a particular client in mind. One such group is made up of military members and their dependents who can offer a steady stream of rental occupancy in the vicinity of every military base in the country. But is soliciting their tenancy a good business plan?

A 2012 military demographic study military demographic study points out that almost half of the American military forces who reside in the US live in one of five states: California, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. Active military personnel in these states (not including dependents) is estimated to be about 591,000. The other side of that comparison includes the states of Iowa, Maine and Vermont, which represent a combined number of 436 active duty members. Obviously, the presence of the military in the state where your properties are located will be a major factor in deciding to attract military tenants.

The military hierarchy always advises its members to ensure there is a clause in any lease that allows for early exit from the contract without penalty when the military member is reassigned to another location. If landlords are operating in a military community, they can expect to have many leases terminated prior to fulfillment. That can be a negative because of time invested in re-renting properties as well as the cost of cleaning and preparing them for new tenants.

On the other hand, if military members are being shipped elsewhere, that also means new members are being shipped in. It follows that new prospects would be plentiful and, if the landlord has a high reputation among its military tenants, referral business would almost be a lock. By doing a cost analysis of average tenancy, cost of preparing for new tenants, etc., the landlord could build a revenue factor into the rent to cover leases that terminate early along with associated costs.

Will having access to the military member's commanding officer ensure prompt and full rent payment? Be careful with this one. There was a time that reporting a delinquent service member to his/her superior officer had more teeth to 'encourage' financial responsibility. However, this may be base-dependent regarding how those matters are handled. Some will argue that commanding officers are less willing to get involved in such disputes. Also, according to, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act "...Expands current law that protects servicemembers and their families from eviction from housing while on active duty due to nonpayment of rents that are $3,329.84 per month or less for 2015. This amount changes every year. (

Probably the most consistent method for ensuring good tenants remains an accurate and diligent background check prior to moving forward with the rental. The stock market always proclaims, "Past performance is not a guarantee of future results." In the rental business, the opposite is often true. Just as savvy landlords research and strategically purchase their properties, they also know that the best way to protect their investments is to investigate their clients' backgrounds prior to signing on the dotted line, no matter what their tenants' profession.

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