What Information is Included in a Background Check for Renters?
Tenant backgrounds checks are commonly used by landlords and property management companies to verify a potential tenant's identity and whether or not anything in past records might indicate a problem (i.e. a history of evictions).
Background checks for renters can vary based on the information each landlord wants to see, but generally it includes the following.
County or State Criminal Record Check
Having a criminal record doesn't automatically prevent you from being able to rent an apartment - the decision is up to the landlord. If a landlord chooses to deny your application based on your tenant background check, the landlord must notify you in writing the reasons why you were denied and provide you with a copy of the report.
Sex Offender Registry Check
In some states, such as California, landlords cannot discriminate against convicted sex offenders. Other states have different laws regarding sex offenders and landlords, so be sure to check the laws in your state. In the states where it's allowed, landlords will use a sex offender search tool to screen for offenses by a person's name or location.
Most landlords will look at a credit report as a way to find out if a potential tenant is financially responsible. Your landlord won't see your credit score, but will be able to see your loan amounts, accounts up for collection, bankruptcies, and if you've been sued in the past for failing to pay rent
Proof of Income
Similar to a credit report, landlords may ask for paycheck stubs or proof of income to ensure that tenants are able to pay the rent.
Previous Landlord References
When performing background checks for renters, landlords will likely ask for references from previous landlords. They may ask reference questions like how long you rented, if you paid your rent on time, if you took care of the property, and if you were clean.
Landlords may also ask your former landlords if you were ever evicted. However, landlords can also check your credit report or county court records to see if you were ever sued for eviction.
A landlord may ask for a tenant's employment history. This allows your landlord to confirm you are currently employed and see if you ever had extensive periods of unemployment. Additionally, a landlord can also speak to your employer to ensure you're responsible and trustworthy.
Keep in mind the tenant screening process falls under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) if a landlord uses a consumer reporting agency. If the screening process is completed by the landlord, FCRA regulations do not apply.
However, all landlords must follow the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits any landlord discriminating against a tenant on the basis of race or color, religion, national origin, marital status, age, disability, gender, or pregnancy.
So, What Does a Tenant Background Check Entail?
Tenant background checks usually review a potential tenants' criminal history, credit report, and proof of income as well as eviction and employment histories. While landlords are unable to discriminate against a tenant based on things such as race, religion, or gender, they may not allow you to rent from them if something negative appears on your background check.
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