How to Check the Rental History of a Prospective Tenant

shutterstock_190317803Whether you screen with us, or you try to do it all on your own, these are the steps that you should take when checking the rental history of a prospective tenant.

Step 1 Check an Incident Reporting Database:

There are incident reporting databases available for landlords to warn each other about tenants that were late on rent, skipped out early on a lease, had to be evicted, etc.  It’s quick and easy to plug in some basic info and see what comes back.  theRRD offers a free database to do just that.  Check this first to catch the worst.  If the incident was bad enough that a landlord felt compelled take the time out of their day and enter it into a database, then you’ll know to steer clear!

shutterstock_290897315Step 2 Call on Previous Landlords:

It’s a good idea to call on previous landlords to see what they have to say about the tenant when they were living in their property.  Don’t rely solely on the tenant providing with you the references.  Look up the landlord’s contact information on your own to avoid any scamming tenants.  It’s ok to collect the contact info from the tenant and then cross reference it to see if it’s the same as the info you have gathered.  That’s a quick and easy way to figure out if the tenant is trying to hide something.

Step 3 Run a Standard Credit Check:

Standard credit reporting agencies such as Transunion or Equifax will allow you to see if there is any outstanding debt to a landlord and for how much.  As an added bonus, you’ll get to see how well the prospective tenant handles their money in general.  A tenant with a credit score of over 700 is excellent.  Did you know that theRRD combines the credit reports of both Transunion and Equifax into one report?  This saves you time and money!

shutterstock_284335064Step 4 Check Court Records:

Checking court records will provide you with important information on the tenant’s evictions, judgments, and liens if there are any to be found.  You should check with your local district/county.  Many courts display the information publically online for free.  Others charge a membership fee to login and view the information.  Along with a standard screening report, you can check the evictions, judgments, and liens on a tenant with theRRD.

** Always be sure to follow all proper procedures when handling a tenant.  Please be sure that any metric you use in review of an application must be applied to all applications to rent.  A comprehensive view of F.C.R.A. law and procedures can be found here.  Also be sure to follow all fair housing laws and not to discriminate based on race, gender, minority group, etc.  Please also observe local ordinances, which may supersede some federal laws. **