Methods to Screen out Bad Tenants

Property owners should do some form of background check before renting to tenants.  Beware that simply asking prospective tenants to list past employers and past landlords, and/or provide references, may not be helpful.  Prospective tenants can easily lie and put their friends’ names and contact information down as past employers and landlords.  So do a little more screening to protect yourself.

There are several background check agencies, such as My Smart Move, and Tenant Background Search, or My Rental, or Rentec Direct, or Tenant Verification, or through American Apartment Owners Association, as well as credit checks through Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion, or — several of the background check services also offer credit checks, for instance My Smart Move. 

There is information about how to do credit checks available from Nolo Press here.

After checking rental history and credit, you would be well advised to check civil and criminal court records in the areas where the prospective tenant has lived, to look for eviction records and/or any criminal history.

There is an organization called “Do Not Rent To” that keeps a bad tenant database. You can find it here:

The sites’ purpose is stated this way:

This site was created to help landlords determine if a potential renter is a suitable candidate for their property. As landlords we always take risks when renting our properties. However, these risks can be minimized by allowing us to see if a potential renter has been added to the do not rent to list of bad tenants. As landlords we’re obligated to inform other landlords of the problems we have encountered when renting our properties to certain tenants.

However, the site charges landlords $29.99 a year, and it’s not clear how useful the site would be for instance if there are a limited number of landlords and the site only contains a few hundred tenant names, or tenants from only certain parts of the world.  But the idea has use if it could catch on and become a large enough database.

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