LeaseRunner Blog

How to Read a Tenant Screening Report

Posted December 13th, 2012 No Comments

Tenant screening as we know it today is a fashion of the most recent decade. Credit score, payment history, criminal and eviction records were not easily accessible before this millennium started. Now, that there is a secure technology for both the tenant and landlord to retrieve these records do you know what to look for?

Have your past tenants been defaulting on rent? You are probably most interested in their credit score and loan payment history. Have they been a part of illegal activities or got arrested? Your priority will be reviewing applicants’ criminal records. If you got burned by a tenant who looked great on paper but ended up being the worse tenant ever, your eyes will be all over the eviction report. But to cover your assets in the best possible way, you know you will be reading between the lines of the rental application and all of the above.

What to Look For:

Credit Check– If the credit score is below fair rating, understand that it takes time to repair ones credit. Look for collection records within the last 12 months. Look for credit inquires within that year. Are there any? You applicant is probably still scrambling for money and planning purchases that she or he cannot afford.  For the last year, have they been paying their lines of credit as agreed? OK means yes, “?” means no

Criminal Check – Not all courts are collecting records with a social security number. Therefore, the criminal check is matched based on person’s first and last name, and date of birth. Luckily, most criminal records include a mug shot if the crime was severe so you can quickly spot or eliminate your applicant. You have met your applicant, right? If this is a long distance deal, have your applicant to email you a picture of his or her driver’s license. The criminal records sometimes do contain disputed driving records, DUIs, etc. While you can paint a clear picture of your applicant as a person, they still might make the perfect tenant.

Eviction Check – Personally, I put the least weight on the eviction check. The only think I look for, is a serial renter, and whether my applicant has been evicted within the last year. People do change and learn from previous mistakes and if they don’t, you will get a gut feeling.

Rental Application – Did the applicant go above and beyond to provide you with a lot of information for at least 3-5 last years of their lives? Does the address provided on the background check match at least one of their previous addresses? How long did they stay at each of their previous addresses? You will come up with your own questions to learn about your applicants. The rental application should make sense.

If you are still on the fence, interview your applicants. Try establishing rapport with them so they warm up and reveal their true personality. Are they someone easy to work with if they lose their job and are not able to pay rent? Did they communicate with you during the application process? Ultimately, you want a tenant who feels like your partner in your landlording business.

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