How to Perform a Background Check on a Potential Apartment Tenant

In the old days, apartment renting was based on trust, and often times a handshake by the community manager and the prospective renter. These days, it's tough to get away with the same approach when screening tenants to rent apartments due to a variety of reasons. Tenants are not paying their rent on-time, partying too…

In the old days, apartment renting was based on trust, and often times a handshake by the community manager and the prospective renter. These days, it's tough to get away with the same approach when screening tenants to rent apartments due to a variety of reasons. Tenants are not paying their rent on-time, partying too late, or breaking an assortment of other rules that are grounds for eviction. The trick is to use a screening process that weeds out the potential bad renters, and keep only the good ones to move into your apartments.

One of the best approaches is to use a property management software such as Onesite or Yardi to do this for you. Yes, I said, “do this for you.” All an apartment manager has to do is have the potential renter fill out a leasing application and sign at the bottom. Then, the apartment manager is able to plug in the prospect's information into the software program like Onesite, or Yardi, and the computer program will generate an almost instantaneous response that tells the manager to either approve, conditions with conditions, or deny the prospect from moving in. This process can take a matter of seconds to completely perform. These programs will take the information that a renter puts on their application, and tell the manager whether that person is a potential risk to rent to. While this does solve the larger problem of how likely that person is to pay their rent on-time, what about whether they'll cause any problems such as noise distortions or breaking other rules of some kind?

The best approach to see if a potential renter will be a nuisance on your property is to call the references that they listed on their application. The references should be able to answer basic questions and not cause any fair housing issues. You should be able to ask when the renter occupied the apartment, and often short occupancy dates would mean that they had a problem at their last place. Also, you can ask whether or not the last apartment community would rent to them again. If they say “yes,” then it's not likely you'll have a problem with them either.

Using these two approaches concurrently will dramatically reduce your chances for renting to a terrible renter, and increase your chances of success. I would encourage an apartment manager to thoroughly check out references before renting to a person.