Should you run criminal background checks on potential tenants?

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Should you run criminal background checks on potential tenants?

If you are a landlord or property manager, you are probably screening potential tenants with employment history and credit checks. But are you running criminal background checks?  If not, you may want to consider adding these screenings to your application procedures.

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If you’re ready to start running criminal and sex offender background checks on applicants, here are a few pointers from the article:

1.  Create guidelines for running these background checks, making them a routine process along with the standard credit and employment checks currently processed for all applicants. Be sure to update any documentation such as procedures and policies handbooks to reflect the changes. Managers must also make sure that all employees are trained properly, and adequately informed that criminal background checks and sex offender checks are mandatory for all applicants with no exceptions.


2. Under no circumstances should these background checks be run at the employee or managers discretion or be based on appearances or other criteria. Not only does this violate Fair Housing regulations, opening the property up to potential litigation, you may inadvertently drive away a potentially terrific tenant in favor of one with an extensive criminal history.


3.  Make it clear in your ads and any other marketing materials that all applicants will be subject to a criminal/sex offender background check. This will likely discourage a large percentage of those with a criminal history from applying.

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