What Does a Landlord Look for When Running a Background Check?

by Michael Wolfe ; Updated July 27, 2017

Often, before renting a unit to a particular tenant, a landlord will choose to run a background check on the person. This background check can vary widely in terms of scope and thoroughness, with some checks being merely cursory examinations of a person's references and others being intensive investigations. While the sources consulted by the landlord may vary, there are a number of common things that the landlord will look out for.

Relationship With Landlord

Many landlords will demand that the applicant provide a list of previous buildings where he has lived. The landlord may choose to check with previous landlords to determine whether the tenant abided by the rules of his previous residences. If the tenant failed to follow the rules set forth in his previous leases -- for example, he was noisy or didn't pay his rent on time -- the new landlord may be hesitant to rent to him.

Credit History

Many landlords also run credit checks on individuals. These credit checks, which allow the landlord to examine the person's credit report, are designed to give the landlord some sense of the individual's financial responsibility. If the person has failed to meet her previous debt obligations, the landlord may not choose to rent to her, as the landlord may believe she stands a greater chance of not paying her rent.

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Landlords also tend to make sure that the current tenant is in a financial position that will allow him to pay his rent on time and in full. A landlord may ask a prospective tenant to provide a statement attesting to his current income and current employer. The landlord may choose to contact this employer to make sure that the tenant is indeed employed where he says he is and is earning a salary.

Criminal Conviction

Many landlords choose to ask tenants whether they have a criminal conviction on their background. Landlords may merely ask about felonies or they may be interested in misdemeanors, too. Sometimes, landlords will not rent to felons or will not rent to a person who has been convicted of a particular kind of crime, such as a violent or a sexual crime. Background checks often include checks of public criminal records.

About the Author

Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.

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