How to Evaluate Tenant Background Screening Companies

Today, it has become increasingly important for landlords to ensure they are properly screening their tenants. According to The New York Times, evictions are on the rise around the country, often for nonpayment of rent.

  • Tuesday, January 20, 2015

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Today, it has become increasingly important for landlords to ensure they are properly screening their tenants. According to The New York Times, evictions are on the rise around the country, often for nonpayment of rent. From 2010 to 2013, there was a 21 percent increase in eviction filings in Maine. Eviction filings increased by 11 percent during the same time period in Massachusetts and rose by 8 percent in Kentucky. Last year, there was one eviction filing for every six rentals in New Jersey, a state that boasts some of the most stringent tenant protections in the nation. While an eviction can be difficult for both the landlord and the renter, it is sometimes a necessity.

Reasons for Evictions

Nonpayment of rent is often one of the primary factors leading to an eviction, but it is certainly not the only reason why a landlord may find it necessary to evict a tenant. Other common reasons include criminal activity, including drug-related crimes.

What can you do to protect your property in advance and ensure that you do not rent to a tenant who may default on the rent or engage in criminal activity on your property? The best course of action is to screen your tenants carefully prior to making a rental decision. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all screening services are the same. As a result, even if you think you are doing the right thing by screening your tenant, you could be leaving your business open to liability.

A Comprehensive Criminal Background Report

Take into consideration what is actually included in a criminal report issued by a screening service provider to ensure it is comprehensive enough for your needs. The chart below can be used to help you compare criminal reports issued by various providers, including VerticalRent. It is important to ensure that the criminal report you obtain when checking the background of a prospective tenant includes each of the following criteria.

Evaluation CriteriaVerticalRentOther ProviderOther ProviderOther Provider
FBI’s Most Wanted List ScanYes
National Sex Offender Registry ScanYes
Terrorist Watch List ScanYes
Over 600 Million Criminal Records and CountingYes
OffenderScan Across All 50 StatesYes
Probability Scoring Method to Ensure AccuracyYes
Over 1,400 Different Government MunicipalitiesYes
CDIA FCRA Certified Review StaffYes
Historical Address TraceYes
Social Security Number VerificationYes
Landlord-Tenant Dispute RecordsYes

Renting to criminals, sex offenders, and prostitutes not only puts a landlord's investment and property value at risk, but it also places the safety of neighbors at jeopardy. LegalMatch points out that landlords typically have a duty to protect the neighborhood in which their rental property is located from the criminal acts of their tenants. Potential penalties could include fines, potential criminal penalties for knowingly permitting illegal activity to occur on the property, and possibly even having the property confiscated by the government.

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to ensure that your property as well as your tenants and neighbors are kept safe. Taking care to run a comprehensive criminal background report can help you to do precisely that.


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