Creating Safer Neighborhoods by Screening Rental Applicants

Screening Rental ApplicantsMost landlords want to make sure the neighborhoods where their properties are located remain good, safe neighborhoods. Even though many do not live there themselves, they still have a responsibility to be a good landlord and keep up property values. One of the best ways that landlords can do this is to make sure they only put the best quality tenants in their properties by screening rental applicants. These are people who will be good neighbors in their stead, keep up the property, and treat it as if it were their own. To get these tenants, landlords need to engage in careful and detailed rental screening for all the applicants.

The Basics

At a minimum, landlords should be screening rental applicants for criminal backgrounds and previous evictions. While not every criminal record is serious enough to warrant excluding someone from renting a property, diligent landlords should check and make the decision for themselves as to whether a criminal record is a warning as to how someone will treat a property and whether they will be safe for the neighbors to be around.

People with previous evictions may or may not be excluded based on the circumstances of their eviction and what condition they left the property in when they left. Anyone can fall on hard times temporarily and have to leave a rental property; it is the way they treated the property upon leaving that is the most telling of what kind of renter they will be, assuming they now have the appropriate steady income to keep up the rent.

Violent sex offenders have to register their dwelling place, and it will be easy for neighbors to look online and discover they are living in your property. A sex offender registry check should always be included when screening rental applicants.

Why Tenant Screening Credit Reports are Important

Some landlords screen for credit history, while others do not. It is in the best interest of most landlords to do this screening and to rent to those with good credit histories. This is because someone with a good credit history will naturally want to protect it. They’ve probably worked very hard to get it, and are not likely to risk losing their good credit history by not paying rent or by trashing the place when they leave. People with good credit histories generally make more responsible tenants.

Other Things to Consider When Screening Rental Applicants

To really get to know potential renters and make a reasonable deduction as to how they will treat the property and whether they will be reliable with rent, a landlord might look into other things. Obtaining references from previous landlords, references from previous neighbors, and even looking at pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns are all things that can give a landlord a better idea of a tenant’s prospects in their property.


The Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discrimination in renting on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, familial status or disability. Additionally, landlords must know their State and Local laws. Landlords are allowed to use other factors to determine if a rental applicant will make a good tenant. These include consumer credit, previous rental history, income, and rental references.

One of the best ways to find out if someone is going to be a good tenant is to do a thorough screening and use a company that specializes in screening rental applicants for landlords.

Disclaimer: The information presented is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.