Tag Archives: tenant screening report

Portland Oregon Landlord : Tenant destroyed rental as revenge!

PORTLAND – A tenant was believed to be responsible for destroying a home that he rented in SE Portland.  The landlord thinks it is retaliation for her trying to evict him for not paying rent.

Cindy Hiatt told NewsChannel 8 her tenant, William Olietti, wrecked every room of her home on SE Rhone Street.  “I just walked through the house and I was in shock,” she said.  “Every step I took I was in more shock.”

The kitchen cupboards were taken down and burned.  Trash was left in the sink and the faucet was broken.  It looked like Olietti took a jackhammer to the tile floor in the kitchen.

“It’s just like, you’re numb and in shock,” said Hiatt.

Olietti also smashed windows, broke holes in the wall, and trashed the backyard shed.

“I can’t think of anything horrible enough to happen to somebody who could do that,” said Hiatt.

An expert on landlord-tenant rights said there were a few things a landlord could do to avoid similar situations.

“The landlord can ask for references, can ask for a security deposit, can ask for a co-signer,” said clinical professor Mark Peterson.

Olietti was arrested and charged with criminal mischief.  Hiatt does not think the house will be available to prospective renters for several months.

“I can’t begin to think how much it’ll cost,” said Hiatt.  “It’s unbelievable.” 

From KGW.com
by Mike Benner

Find services to help you properly screen your tenant here.

Application to Rent – It’s all in the details

When renting to a tenant or renting to multiple tenants its extremely important to have them fill out a rental application.  Rental application form or application to rent form can sometimes be found at your local stationary store like Staples or Office Depot.  You can also obtain the form from a tenant screening company, find my list here.  Apartment Associations or some may call them landlord associations will also provide the necessary landlord forms.  There are local apartment associations and nationwide associations, you can find my lists for them here.

The Application to Rent is one of the most important pieces of information you can gather from a prospective tenant during the tenant screening process.  Any information they provide assists you with your decision to rent as well as helps you recover lost rent should they skip out (more on this later).

Here is some of the information you should be requesting from your prospective tenant or new renter when they apply for your apartment for rent or home for rent:

  • Tenant full name; include first name, middle name, last name, and any AKA’s
  • Tenant address history; ask for 7-10 years of addresses to assist you in their prior living history
  • Date of Birth; You cannot base your decision to rent on a tenant’s date of birth, however, many tenant screening reports will require this piece of information.  It will also help with the debt collection process should you need to search for them later.  Lastly the tenant’s date of birth also assists should a Jr. vs. Sr. issue ever arise.
  • Social Security Number; This is required to obtain a credit report or tenant screening background report.  The tenant’s social security number can also be used for skip tracing should they leave and owe money.  Many tenant screening companies will also provide Social Security Fraud reports, I recommend you obtain one on your prospective tenant.
  • Phone numbers.  Get their home phone, cell phone, work phone (see below), and any other phone number they will provide.  Why are so many tenant phone numbers needed?  There are 2 main reasons: (1) to let them know you want to rent to them and (2) to chase after them if the tenant leaves owing you money!
  • Work history for 7-10 years.  It’s important to know where your prospective new tenant’s income is coming from.  Do they have a job?  Where is the job?  What is the address of the job?  Their boss’s name?  The phone number to the boss?  The title of their job?  Their previous and current salary?  You want to know all of this information to help in determining if the tenant can afford your rent.  A tenant screening report or tenant background check will provide credit and criminal information as well as insight on their debt/credit,, but their current job should still be verified.  Employment information also will assist in the debt collection process should the tenant skip out owing you money!
  • Banking information is also important.  First you’ll need this information to verify the tenant has the money to pay your rent.  You want to know they can write you a check each month!  (and that it will clear!)  Plus, as I stated with other information above, this will help with the debt collection process.
  • Tenant’s Relatives and Non-Relatives.  This information is helpful for the tenant screening process and the debt collection process.  Relatives will help you confirm the type of person your new tenant is, they will also help you locate the tenant when they leave you owing rent.  Non-relatives are also important because friendships change over years.  Your tenant may list someone that, after moving out, they are no longer friends with.  That person may be more than willing to assist you in your debt collection needs.
  • Additional Occupants in the apartment.  Who else is going to reside in the unit?  What is their name?  What is their social security number and date of birth?  How are they related to your prospective tenant?  Depending on the age of the occupant you may want them to sign the rental lease too.  You should perform a tenant screening background check on every occupant over the age of 18 even if they aren’t signing a lease!
  • Pets.  Do they have any pets?  Do you even want to allow pets?  What kind of pets are they?  Age of pet?  Type of pet?  How big (weight) is the pet?  What’s the name of the pet?  You’d be surprised how often the pet “gets out” and how helpful it can be to know its name.  Or if that dog is parking all night because your tenant is gone and you can yell out to the dog.
  • What type of vehicles does the prospective tenant own or lease?  A tenant screening background check will not always show automobiles.  You should obtain the type of car, color, year, make and model.  Always know whose vehicles are parked on your property.  This includes autos for co-tenants/additional occupants.
  • Ask the hard questions!  Ask the tenant on your rental application form if they have ever been evicted from an apartment or home.  Sure many will lie and you’ll discover an eviction on their tenant screening eviction background check, but others may fear the question and not even apply — saving you time, money, and aggravation.
  • Important:  You must have a signed release from the tenant authorizing you to obtain and investigate information on them such as a tenant screening credit report, criminal background check, eviction records, etc.  The law requires this release, so don’t forget it!
  • Always have the tenant print their name and provide a signature and date.  If the application is more than 1 page, its not a bad idea to have them initial or sign the bottom of each page in the corner.

My apartment association provides rental applications for free.  You can also find landlord forms like the application to rent from some tenant screening companies.  Visit my listings to locate an apartment association by state or visit the American Apartment Owners Association, a nationwide landlord association providing larger discounts than local chapters, for the necessary landlord forms.

What to Look for in a Tenant Screening Background Check

Before any landlord leasing property ever considers signing a lease agreement with a prospective tenant, it is vital that the landlord gets a signed rental application from each adult who will be included on the lease agreement. With this information, the landlord now has the ability to conduct an investigation known as a tenant screeningor background check. This application should request key background information including key questions about the potential renter’s past such as the past addresses for the past 5 years, employment record, and criminal history. One of the most important uses of this application is that it provides the landlord with the basic data from which he or she can conduct an effective background screening on the applicant(s). Nealy all tenant screening services require that you have a valid social security number and many require a current or past address as well.

The data your applicant provides for the purpose of obtaining a lease on your property lies the groundwork for you to be able to harvest an enormous amount of information about your prospective tenant. I would highly recommend that you use a good quality service which provides you with nationwide data. Avoid using tenant screeningservices which only provide you with state only data. It is surprising how many of the big name online background check services are severely lacking the vital information that are imperative for you to have as a property manager. It is absolutely necessary that you obtain a nationwide history of any criminal records, court judgments, and previous addresses.

Once you receive the results of the background check, you want to look for any discrepancies contained within the report that differs from what your had applicant stated. For example, if your background check report shows many different previous addresses reported by your applicant, then you most likely have a major issue. Also, if you find previous court judgments, there are usually major issues. Unlawful detainers are especially troublesome because it means that in the past, your rental applicant had to be forcibly removed from a property with a previous landlord. There are plenty of tenants to chose from who are honest and pay their bills on time with a clean record. Don’t gamble your future with people who have a shady past.

Alexis Hughes has worked in the real estate industry for the past 23 years. For the past 14 years, she has been employed as a property manager and currently serves as the president of the local Property Manager’s Rental Association. Tenant ScreeningBackground Check at tenantscreeningbackgroundcheck.com is an excellent resource that I recommend for conducing effectivetenant screening.

This article is from here: http://tinyurl.com/tenant-screening-help-1

I’ve never used the above referenced tenant screening provider. However, I do list providers on my website through the links found in the header and by Help for Landlords by State.  I am currently very satisfied with the tenant screening service I receive from the American Apartment Owners Association.

Tackling the Tenant Screening Background Blacklist With New Legislation

New York Times
By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS
Published: April 7, 2010

If you have ever been in housing court for an eviction proceeding — whether you withheld rent because of the hole in your ceiling or because of the ticket you bought to Maui — your name may be on a list that screening companies sell to landlords to help them spot potentially troublesome tenants.

Even if you won the case.

The list of those named in eviction filings has remained, by and large, relegated to the murky status of urban legend. But in February the City Council passed legislation, introduced by Councilman Daniel R. Garodnick, called the Tenant Fair Chance Act. It requires landlords, property managers and brokers to disclose which screening company, if any, they plan to use for these background checks.

Starting this summer, tenants will have the chance to order their files from the firms in question, and correct any inaccuracies.

“We began to hear from constituents throughout the city that they were getting rejected for apartments and they couldn’t figure out why,” said Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker. “They had an albatross around their necks, and they didn’t even know it.”

As soon as an eviction case is put on the calendar by a clerk or lawyer, New York’s housing court system sells the names of tenants to screening companies. The court has sold case information since 1990.

One pitfall for renters is that because the database is organized by name rather than, say,Social Security number, it is possible that someone with the same, or almost the same, name as a tenant-defendant could be included. But even if the information on the screening report is accurate, there is generally precious little of it. It will not say, for example, whether rent was withheld because the building was falling down, or whether the housing court found in a tenant’s favor.

Screening companies do not coordinate with one another, and there are more than 600 of them nationwide, so it is important to know where a landlord plans to look.

“We can’t stop the practice,” Ms. Quinn said, explaining that any decision to end the practice of selling this information would be made by the State Legislature. “But at least we’ve brought it out in the sunlight, and that’s always the best disinfectant. Tenants will have knowledge, and in these types of situations, knowledge is power.”

Louise Seeley, the executive director of the City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court, a nonprofit agency that helps people navigate the housing court system, said her organization received 5 to 10 calls a week from potential tenants whose names were on the list. Names are meant to be expunged after seven years, she said, but some companies are not careful about purging their records.

The prospect of being added to the list can have a chilling effect on tenants, advocates for renters said.

For the rest of this article please visit: http://tinyurl.com/tenant-screening-help
Looking for tenant screening resources?  Click here


Youtube Tips and Help for Landlords

This isn’t the worlds best YouTube video, but sometimes its helpful to hear someone provide some simple tips and not just read it.  In this video the speaker is discussing how to properly screen a tenant.  This is a topic that I write about frequently.  The better your tenant screening service is, the better chance your tenant will pay their rent.

As I’ve stated many times before, I used to use ClearScreening. Then I moved to TenantAlert.com and now I’m with the American Apartment Owners Association because they provide me with more services than TenantAlert and their prices were cheaper.

I’ve tried to embed the YouTube video but for some reason its not working with WordPress.  Here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/help-for-landlords-5

In this economy you have to screen your tenants!

As everyone knows the economy is drastically effecting the economy and cash flow.  But now is not the time to cut back on costs associated with proper property mangement practices.  I like to think of my property mangement practicies like Goldlocks and the 3 Bears.

If your expectations are too high (too hot!) you may limit yourself from finding qualified tenants for a vacancy.

If your expectations are too low (too cold!) or vague you may find plenty of tenants but the quality of those tenants will most likely be poor.

If your expectations are reasonable (mmm…just right!) your property mangement practicies will assist in protecting your investment and keeping your cash flow, well, flowing.

One of these good property mangement practices is getting in the habit of doing a thorough background check on a prospective tenant.  Tenant screening background checks are important and the reports included in them can vary.  Generally a tenant screening background check or tenant screening report will consist of the prospective tenant’s credit report or credit history, rental history, and any criminal activity.

Right now many tenant screening providers provide 2 different options to access tenant screening credit reports.  The first option is to receive a rental recommendation based on the prospective tenant’s credit report.  The second is to make your own decision by examining the credit report yourself.

For the first option, a rental recommendation based on the prospective tenant’s credit report, is an extremely valuable and quick way to decide if a tenant is “move in ready”.  The tenant screening provider will run the credit report and provide you with an instant decision based on the applicant’s credit. 

The second option requires a onsite or physical inspection.  Its more work on your part and costs more money.  While it does allow you to make your own decision, I’m not convinced it’s all that necessary. 

When selecting a tenant screening provider make sure they have an assortment of reports to choose from, like:

  • A Credit Report Decision or Credit Report
  • Criminal History
  • Statewide Criminal History
  • Nationwide Criminal History
  • Countywide Criminal History
  • Telecheck – a great source to check if a tenant wrote a bad check
  • Sex Offender Searches
  • Eviction History – I almost forgot that one!  Checking the Eviction history of your tenant is very important!!!
  • SSN History – this will provide you with all addresses associated with the Social Security Number.  It can be really helpful with evaluating some of the reports above
  • Fraud Checks
  • and many more

In addition to running the above reports for a reputable tenant screening provider, you’ll also want to obtain documenation from the prospective tenant.  Not only are these documents great for the tenant screening process but they will help in the recovery your money should the tenant skip out owing you money!  So keep these in mind:

  • Driver’s License
  • Social Security Card
  • United States Passport
  • United States Birth Certificate
  • United States Military Identification Card
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Permenant Resident Card
  • Foreign Passport with United States Visa and valid I-94 form
  • United States Military Discharge or Separation Documentation
  • Medical Insurance Identification Card
  • Marriage Certificates
  • Divorce Decrees
  • Concealed Weapons Permit
  • Employee Identification Badge (with photo!)

Important!  You should be viewing originals only!  Do not accept photocopies!  It’s bad enough fraudlent documents are created to trick a landlord but its even easier to create a photocopied one.  Only accept originals.

Thanks for listening!

Tenant Background Checks: What Every Landlord Needs to Know

Tenant background checks are critical every time you rent, not only to avoid unpaid rent, but to avoid renting to a sex offender or other at-risk tenant. While a credit check in important, it is not enough.

These are the reports available for your tenant background check:

Credit Report. This paints a picture of the prospect’s ability, and willingness, to pay.

Previous Address History. This report melds the SSN with previous addresses, and includes date ranges. This information provides locations for criminal and eviction reports, and can flag SSN violations.

Statewide or National Criminal History. Used to avoid bringing an at-risk tenant onto your premises.

Sex Offender List

Terrorist List

Eviction History. This is a statewide report. Cross-check against the Previous Address History.

In addition to these reports, it is critical that you demand a completed application from every prospect, and interview them face-to-face. If something seems “fishy” with this new prospect, it probably is. Don’t discount your instincts!

Did you know that your chances of collecting tenant debt may depend on what information you collect before the tenant ever moves in. Read our series,Seven Vital Tips to Help Collect Tenant Debt featuring collection expert Bill Gray of Fidelity Information Corporation.