How to be a P.I. when Accepting Applicants

Property managers like you take protecting their rental communities very seriously, and investigating their future tenants is a huge part of the leasing process. While some use shady (and potentially illegal) Facebook research as well as other social media accounts to vet potential residents, ultimately, you are your own Detective Gadget, and resident screening is your primary tool. With your applicant’s background screening report in hand, you can easily look for clues of potential “red flags.”

  1. Cross-Reference with the Source of your Information

First, you’re going to want to double check that the information on the background report matches the information given on the rental application. This includes the names, descriptors (to check against their photo identification), date of birth, SSN, and driver’s license number. Mistakes happen, and sometimes applicants make typos or (if they’re applying online with their phone or tablet) their mobile device autocorrects information. If they mistyped their name, date of birth, or SSN, then, to be safe, request that they complete a second background check.

  1. Be Skeptical of the “Pink Panther” of Criminal Hits

When you’re investigating applicants, it can be easy to get caught up in trying to find the “Pink Panther” of criminal hits. It’s a moment where you see a criminal history and think that you’ve caught them; case closed. However, in some cases this isn’t necessarily true. If your applicant has a very common name and happens to have the exact date of birth as a former convict, it’s likely the record will appear. CIC™ provides a photo with most sex offender registry hits so that you can determine if they are the same person. Otherwise talk to your applicant about the conviction. If he or she denies it, they have the right to dispute it through your screening provider’s consumer relations dept, who will investigate and inform you if the record is removed from the screening report.

You will also want to look at what the conviction was for. Most property management companies’ written rental criteria will deny an applicant for specific types of criminal charges relating to drug manufacturing, sex offense, violent crimes against a person, property damage or theft,  and financial fraud. Traffic offenses and misdemeanors may not negatively affect the person’s ability to pay the rent, so consider that before making a decision.  Keep in mind that marijuana convictions could have been a felony 4 years ago, but now is a legal activity in your current state.

  1. Be wary of Fraudulent Paystubs

While you may have seen fake rental references in the past, be aware that fraudulent paystub generators exist. Under the guise that it can help independent contractors, business owners and students report income, companies that produce paystubs conduct no 3rd party verification that the information input into the generator is true. To enable these groups of applicants to apply to your vacancy, accept alternative proof of income like bank statements or student grant or VA benefit documents. To protect yourself from counterfeit paystubs, cross-reference the employment section on your report and perform a verbal verification with the employer.

With a resident screening provider like CIC™, you don’t need to resort to questionable practices to protect your property. As long as you take a thorough look into the tenant’s background screening report, you’ll pick up on enough clues to be your own private investigator.

How do you investigate your potential renters? How does your company handle applicants with a criminal history? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe.


Check Out These Other Great Articles!

Avoid Rental Liabilities with these Simple Steps

The Difference between Millennial and Gen X Renters (Infographic)

Protect yourself from Fraud with Credit Monitoring


Spread the word. Share this post!

Becky Bower is the Content Strategist here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.