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Is a Tenant Criminal Background Check Necessary? A Closer Look

Is a Tenant Criminal Background Check Necessary? A Closer Look

As a landlord or property manager, you may wonder, how necessary is doing a tenant criminal background check? It's tempting to go by your gut feelings and skip it, but if you do you'll be taking on risk. Believe it or not, around 70 million people in the U.S. have a criminal record.

Simply having a criminal record is NOT a reason to refuse a person housing. But as a landlord, you're responsible for the safety of your property. And it's not always possible to figure out what someone's really like, from one or two brief conversations.

Here's all you need to know about background checks in the California Bay Area, including why they help you avoid liability, and more.

Why Should Landlords Do a Criminal Background Check?

Most apartment complexes and private renters do background checks. But even if you're looking for a roommate for a room in your house, a criminal background check is something you should never forego. 

Never assume that someone is as nice as they seem. It's possible for a person to convincingly lie to you, then change or relapse into bad habits once they move in.

And if you thought you rented to Dr. Jekkyl but find out that Mr. Hyde signed the lease, you've got a huge problem! You may not be able to get them to move out until you get law enforcement involved or go to court to have them evicted.

Sometimes evictions can lead to lawsuits and accusations of liability. This is not a situation you want to find yourself in, so do that criminal background check before you rent to anyone!

What Does a Tenant Criminal Background Check Cover?

Your average tenant background check includes a credit check and a criminal records check. What matters to most property managers is a history of serious violence or felonies.

Some tenant background checks are state-based, but you can also request a national search if you want to look outside California. A reliable background check will search through court records and addresses in multiple geographical locations.

How to Order Criminal Background Checks

Criminal background checks are nothing new, but today it's easier than ever to get them. You can order them online through several well-known background checking sites or go through one of the major Credit Bureaus.

Some people work with a property management company to rent their house. If this describes you, ask your California Bay Area property management company to screen tenants for you.

Just be sure to use the information as instructed, as some states have rules about what you can and cannot use it for. If you have any questions about what's legal, be sure to ask a landlord-tenant attorney in your area.

Don't Skip This Important Step

It's clear that running a tenant criminal background check on your renters is a step you shouldn't skip. It's better to rule out anyone with a dangerous record before they move in and create problems.

While it costs money to run a background check, it's an investment. It might even prevent you from having to pay much more later, in legal and cleanup costs. 

If you have questions about how to get a reliable background check, feel free to contact us. As property managers in the California Bay Area, we've seen it all and can guide you to your best options.

Feel free to check out our website and give us a call with any background check or property management questions. We look forward to speaking with you soon!