If you’ve just recently become a landlord, you’re probably a little overwhelmed by the entirety of the position you’ve taken on. Maybe you’re wondering if you really have to perform a background check on your prospective clients – After all, if you get a good vibe from someone, they must be good people right?


The nicest, most genuine person on the planet could be a complete slob. What you consider to be an honest smile could actually be the dishonest smirk of someone that never intends to pay you rent. And you don’t know that the sweet couple in their fifties that applied to be a part or your ‘quiet community’ doesn’t have twenty grandkids that they let run wild every weekend.

That’s why it’s so important to do a background check. Ideally you want to do this check before you even meet your prospective renters to ensure that both you and they waste as little time as possible.

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Questions To Ask During The Tenant Background Check

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There are a few different things that you’ll want to ask to get a feeling for the renter’s background. Think of simple, straightforward things such as:

– What do you do for work?

– How many bedrooms do you need?

– Do you have pets?

– How many other people do you intend to share the unit with?

– What is your maximum budget?

If all of the prospective tenant’s answers appeal to you, you can delve into these more personal questions:

– How is your credit?

– When do you need the place by?

– Have you already given notice to your existing landlord?

– How many references can you provide me with?

Keep the conversation flowing as naturally as possible (regardless of your method of communication) – While the general feeling you get from someone isn’t quite enough to go on alone, it’s certainly not something that you should ignore.

Things To Look Out For

Obviously anyone is capable of lying through their teeth, and if they need a place bad enough they’ll be more than willing to do just that. ‘Professional tenants’ exist: These folks make a living out of lying about their identities to get their rental applications approved (which is rather easy to do if the landlord simply looks at the paperwork instead of doing the background check). They move in, neglect to pay any rent, destroy your unit most of the time, and then vanish without a trace before you get the chance to take them to court. Be cautious of anyone that sounds a little too excited and wants to move in ASAP – A good tenant usually wants at least 4-8 weeks leeway to get everything situated.


Of course, there are always extenuating circumstances such as emergencies and job relocations. That’s why you’ll want to dig a little further still. Here’s how to do that:

– Contact old landlords (three’s a pretty golden number, but do as many as you need to in order to feel comfortable).

– Check social media (many people leave their info public).

– Google full names (not foolproof, but can sometimes help you spot a fraud).

Not only will performing a tenant background check help you weed out the bad renters, it could also help you find the perfect tenant.

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Remember: Someone that’s genuinely looking for a new place to live won’t have anything to hide.