Over 70 million people in the United States have a criminal record. While that statistic seems staggering, it encompasses a wide range of crimes. It can be challenging for a person with a criminal record to find employment or stable housing.
As a landlord, conducting a tenant background check in Florida is essential. You don't want to turn down a potential application just because someone has a criminal record. However, you want to ensure that the person wasn't charged and convicted of serious crimes.
A tenant background check can look for more things besides a criminal record. This guide will discuss why getting a background check should be one of the first things you do in the tenant screening process.
Learn About Their Background
As mentioned, a tenant background check will provide you with information on their criminal history. Keep in mind that this doesn't need to be a deal-breaker. An old misdemeanor or traffic violation isn't something that reflects a person's character.
A criminal records check will notify you if the potential tenant is part of the sex offender database or on a watchlist. They'll also let you know if they've previously been evicted. You can use the information you receive in this part of the background check to determine if renting this individual would pose a safety issue for your other tenants.
Protect Your Business
Failing to conduct a tenant background check can make you liable if anything goes wrong. You might be sued for negligence.
Additionally, your reasons for denying or accepting a rental applicant are essential. The Fair Housing Act in Florida states that you can't deny a rental applicant based on the following factors:
- Familial status
- National origin
While you can deny an applicant because of their criminal history, you have to be able to prove your decision. You also have to show that your choice was made to protect your community and property. Landlords have to be clear that they're rejecting an applicant because of a reasonable or presumed risk.
Ensure They'll Pay Their Rent
Paying rent is the backbone of being a landlord. You don't want to waste your energy and time each month staying on top of your renter's payments. You also don't want to have to deal with evicting a tenant.
A tenant background check will give you a better insight into their financial history. They'll show you their credit score and if they have any outstanding debts. You can review their payment history and decide if they pay their bills on time.
Make a Tenant Background Check Part of Your Screening Process
A tenant background check will give you the peace of mind you need when renting your property. Not everything you find in the background check should deter you from renting to someone. Always trust your gut, even if the person looks good on paper.
The experts at Gulf Coast Property Management are here to provide you with tenant screening tips. We also offer property management services in Venice, Sarasota, and beyond. Contact us to schedule a consultation to find the best tenants.