10 top tips for a successful tenant background check

by CRE05 Feb 2015

While searching online, it's important that you cross-reference everything you come across with the rental application and supporting documents provided by the tenant. Is the employer they claim to be working for online the same as the one that appears on their rental application and letter of employment? Does the online photograph match the identity of the tenant you met in person?  

It is also important to check for any past criminal or fraudulent activity associated with their names. Social media platforms are helpful in getting to know the tenants as well. Check their profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.
5. Never use the employer contact number provided

How do you know whether the phone number listed on a rental application is legitimate? It's easy for any tenant to have a friend pretend to be their employer over the phone. To avoid being duped like this, you need to research the company’s phone number online. This should be a regular practice for any tenant background screening. Never make a call using the phone number provided on the application. Most companies can be found on the Internet. If you can't find the company listed anywhere, you should be suspicious.

If you're able to find the number online, call the company’s operator and ask to speak to the tenant. If the operator can't find the tenant’s name listed, this may be an indication that he or she is lying about their employment status. 
6. Verify the landlord’s name using proper channels

How do you know whether the current or previous landlord’s names and phone numbers listed on the rental application are valid? A tenant background check is only as reliable as the information provided. That's why it's important to verify the landlord’s identity. 

A good way to do this is to get your Realtor or lawyer to conduct a land registry check on the addresses belonging to the tenant’s current and previous landlords. If the names provided match with those listed on land registry, the tenant has been honest and forthcoming about this information.
7. Confirm the current rental period

When tenants lie about their current landlord reference, they also lie about the time period in which they rented their current home. A robust tenant background screening will attempt to detect deception on multiple levels so as to lessen the probability of approving a bad tenant.

If a prospective tenant is currently living in a rental home that was leased out through the help of a real estate brokerage, a record of them leasing out this home will exist on a centralized MLS system. As such, you can request that your Realtor check all previous records related to the tenant’s current address. If the property was rented or sold in the past, your job is to cross-reference the dates to see if they match up with the date the tenant claims to have moved in. Any discrepancies with respect to dates will indicate that the tenant is lying to you.  
8. Ensure affordability

Affordability is a critical element in tenant background screening. How do you know whether a tenant can afford to rent from you? You have to consider how much they earn with respect to the rent owing, their current liabilities and their spending habits as reflected by their credit report.  

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