Why Tenant Screening Must Include Nationwide Checks

By David Pickron

For the first 100 years of being a country, the United States was comprised of small, rural family or ethnic groups that thrived upon sharing resources to support their entire communities. Over the last 100 years of our history and with the massive population growth in our major cities, many of us have become “strangers” to even our closest neighbors. Being a landlord today requires so much more than in the past. Gone are the days of knowing most of the people in our communities and getting referrals from those same people – trusted friends or family – to fill our properties. In the past a person’s actions might be known town-wide, but now people can live and move anonymously within our neighborhoods. How does that affect you as a property owner? And how does that affect your ability to operate as a “successful, lazy landlord,” a concept I teach and live by? I’ll tell you; it affects both dramatically.

A disclaimer before you read too far: I’m not advising you to never rent to any individual with a criminal history. I am advising you to utilize criminal history checks as just another tool in your landlord “toolbox.”

Criminal Histories

When it comes to understanding criminal behavior, we have to rely on the criminal statistics to give us a true and accurate look at our current situation. Recidivism, the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend, and the rates of reoffending are a powerful indicator for you as a landlord as you analyze a potential tenant. The Bureau of Justice recently released the results of a 10-year study of individuals that were released from prison in 2008.

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