How to Run a Background Check on a Potential Tenant


Background checks are an essential part of the tenant vetting process. Without a proper background check, it’s simply impossible to know who you are dealing with. Fortunately, there are tons of tools at your disposition that you can use to run a thorough background check on potential tenants. Here are a few tips on how to run a proper background check.


Ask for an Application

Not many people do this, but you should request an application from every potential tenant, just like a job. The application should have everything you need, name, previous addresses, financial and employment information. You should also ask for references as well.

Make sure that you double check the application. If you’re living in California, for instance, you should run the number given on white pages California residential listings. If the name doesn’t correspond with the name on the application, that is a direct red flag right there. The more information you can get on the application, the better picture you’ll be able to paint of the tenant.


Do a Credit Check

A credit check will give you a picture of your tenant in a way an application won’t. By performing a credit check, you’ll be able to tell how financially responsible the person is. If you see missing payments from four years ago, don’t need to panic. Most people don’t have a pristine credit record. Recent issues are what you should be worried about.

Please note that some states will allow you to charge the tenant for the credit check while others will require the landlord to pay.  


Run an Actual Background Check

Only a background check will give you the full picture of a particular tenant. There are many services out there that will allow you to perform a check on a tenant’s criminal history, former evictions, and a variety of other public records. All you will usually need is the prospective tenant’s SSI number.

Public records will allow you to check if the person is in the middle of a legal battle of some sort. That should be something to look for, especially if it’s with a former landlord. Criminal history will give you a clearer picture of the person’s criminal past. If you see some sort of youthful indiscretion, that shouldn’t be a make or break issue, but if it’s something recent of if the tenant has a lengthy criminal history, then you should think twice. Records on recent evictions are also very helpful. Make sure that you ask the tenant more details about the eviction to see if they could be a liability.




Running a background check is essential if you’re a landlord trying to protect his or her property. A proper background check will allow you to get a full profile of the potential tenant, from their payment history to criminal history and possible litigation. So, don’t skip this important part if you want to avoid ending up with a tenant from hell.




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