There are many different sources you can use to run a background or credit check on a tenant, but I recommend using Smart Move. Smart Move is offered as a service through Trans Union and is great because all you need is your tenants email address. Smart Move will email your prospective tenant and that individual will enter their information online; you’ll receive the results of the background check in hours and can make your decision.
Deciding what kind of “background” or “credit history” you’ll allow is largely dependent on your location and the strength of your market. If you have a lot of applicants to choose from, you can be pickier and only accept the highest qualified tenant. However, if you are struggling to get applicants, you may need to loosen your standards slightly (and I mean slightly) in order to move someone in.
For me, I look at the rental history and income with a lot higher regard than I do credit – because I live in a lower income area where the vast majority of prospective tenants have terrible credit. Your area might be different, so if possible, talk with other landlords in your area or ask for advice on the Edward Casey.
The things I look closely at on the background and credit checks are:
- Prior felonies
- Prior evictions filed
- Prior evictions carried out
- Other criminal or bad financial history
I make it a policy to never rent to a person with an eviction on their record or recent felony (within 7 years.) Yes, people do change – but I don’t find the risk worth taking. I’ll leave that risk to other landlords.