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A Houston Landlord's Guide on How to Conduct a Tenant Criminal Background Check

A Houston Landlord's Guide on How to Conduct a Tenant Criminal Background Check

63% of tenants say they have an excellent/good relationship with their landlords, which should provide you with some peace of mind. However, this can only happen if you carefully screen your renters. Otherwise, it's very likely you'll get tenants who don't respect you or your properties.

The rental process can be a more positive one if you know how to run a tenant criminal background check. This enables you to weed out the good from the bad, and it'll facilitate better landlord-tenant relationships.

Read on to see how to conduct tenant screening in Houston, TX.

Understand the Laws First

Performing a tenant background check is important for protecting yourself. However, there are laws surrounding the process, such as the Fair Housing Act. In addition, if you're getting credit or consumer reports, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires you to tell applicants if their rejection's due to something you saw on their credit report.

Having a solid grasp on what is and isn't legally allowed will help you avoid trouble.

Get Written Consent

To run a background check on tenants, you'll have to get written consent. You can easily include it as part of the rental application, or you can create a separate form.

Either way, make sure that the consent is clear and specific about what you'll be checking. You should get their:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Current address

Select a Screening Company

There are several choices available online; conduct research to pick a reputable one. They should comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other relevant regulations.

You can also have a property management company do the screening for you. They'll provide other services too, such as property marketing, rent collection, lease enforcement, and evictions.

Review the Results

After submitting the collected information to the screening company, they'll search their criminal databases for any relevant records. They'll then send you a complete report detailing the potential tenant's criminal history.

Review the results carefully to understand the nature and severity of any criminal records. You can determine their relevance to your rental decision. For instance, minor offenses probably won't disqualify someone, while serious crimes are red flags.

Follow Legal Procedures for Rejections

You need to follow legal procedures if you reject a tenant's application based on their criminal history.

Typically, you'll send an adverse action notice. This informs them of your decision and gives them information about their rights to dispute the accuracy of the information you found.

Perform a Thorough Tenant Criminal Background Check

Make sure you perform a thorough tenant criminal background check for all applicants. Consider it a type of eviction protection, as you'll be less likely to sign renters who are irresponsible and unreliable.

This may be a tedious and draining process for some landlords, so getting rental property management can be a solution. Reputable property managers can conduct the checks for you to take the burden off your shoulders.

For fantastic property management services in Houston, contact us today.