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If you own property that you plan on or are renting out, it’s recommended that you invest in tenant screening services. The saying “It’s better to be safe than sorry” is spot on when it comes to dealing with potential tenants. You spent a great deal of time, money, and energy on your property. Thus, you need reliable tenants that will pay their bills on time, take care of your property, and inform you when maintenance is required. The best way to determine if a tenant will be reliable is to run a tenant screening. If you rent your property without first running a tenant screening on potential tenants, it could either be fine or a disaster. Keep reading to learn the dangers of not investing in a tenant screening.

Tenant Rights

As a landlord, there are some tenant rights you need to know. For example, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Act states that landlords cannot deny housing to any person based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. These rights help prevent discrimination against tenants and ensures that people have a fair chance at renting a place.

However, landlords are legally allowed to set their own requirements for tenants, as long as they do not conflict with tenant rights. 

Landlords can require that tenants: 

  • Do not have pets
  • Do not smoke in or around the property
  • Have good credit scores
  • Clean backgrounds
  • No eviction history
  • Sufficient income to pay their rent
  • Not have roommates

While these rules may be strict, landlords do this to protect their investments, finances, and reputation as a business owner. The last thing any landlord wants is to be sued by one of their tenants due to a failure to determine if a potential tenant is a reliable, stable person. This leads us to the dangers of not running background checks on tenants.

Dangers of Not Running Tenant Screenings

If you do not run tenant screenings on potential tenants, this puts you, your property, and other tenants at risk. This is a liability you do not want in any scenario. Let’s take a look at what could and does go wrong.

Eviction Costs

A tenant that has missed one or two rental payments due to job loss or emergencies is most likely a reliable tenant. These things happen and people shouldn’t be punished for these minimal mistakes. However, if a tenant has a history of missing rental payments and being evicted at least once, this is a red flag that they are likely not reliable and/or cannot afford their rent. If you skip running a tenant screening, you may find yourself spending a lot of money on evicting someone that doesn’t pay their rent.

Property Damage

As a landlord, it can be expected that your property will suffer some wear and tear overtime. Of course, you also expect tenants to take care of the property and inform you when something is damaged or needs to be fixed. If you rent your property to a person with a bad history of destroying property, this is going to cost you big with fixing your place and possibly taking the tenant to court for serious property damages they refuse to pay. This can be prevented by running a background check, which can help you determine how reliable a person is. Calling rental references from past landlords is another good idea. Past landlords can give you some insight as to whether this person is responsible and a good fit for your rental property.

Safety Risks

When you hand over the keys to a new tenant, you want to be confident that they are a good person and will not harass or harm your other tenants. This can be a safety risk that can end up with you being sued for failing to know one of your tenants was a sex offender or a criminal with a violent past. Indeed, this is not fair to your other tenants because they trust you to create a safe environment for them to live. 

Of course, there are different types of safety risks. For example, a recent person released from prison for numerous violent attacks or robberies is a big red flag. You probably don’t want to rent your property to this person unless you are prepared for possibly big financial and legal issues down the road. On the other hand, if a parent that went to jail for stealing an item from a store 20 years ago wants to rent your property, this is a different situation. This parent has a family and has held a stable job for several years, which shows that they have learned their lessons and is most likely not a safety or legal risk to your property or other tenants. The key takeaway here is to address each tenant on a case-by-case approach.

As spring begins, it’s a popular time for individuals and families to think about moving to a new place. You can ensure that you rent out your properties to good tenants that are responsible and at a low risk for causing you financial or legal trouble. The experts at PATRIOT Backgrounds and Investigations would love to help ensure you rent to responsible people by running tenant screenings for your business.