Tenant screening can be done in-house or outsourced with a background and credit check company. Outsourcing tenant screening to a third party provides consistency across an office with many agents, while an in-house screening may provide additional details.
Lindsay Leasing – Tenant Screening
Lindsay Leasing conducts tenant screening in-house. We gain first hand knowledge by communicating directly with landlords and employers. In-house tenant screening provides you with an advantage as to whether or not an applicant is a good or bad risk. We also have direct access to all background and credit information versus a summary report. Because we pull credit reports directly, our office must take and pass a periodic Fair Credit Reporting Act exam to ensure we understand and follow appropriate regulations. When reviewing the information we are looking for many facets to determine if the applicant is qualified.
We call the applicant’s current/previous landlords and ask about the applicant’s payment history, whether there were bounced checks, late payments, unauthorized roommates, pets, noise, damage, etc. If the former landlord is a private homeowner (instead of a professional property manager), we may pull County tax records to verify that the person listed as the landlord is in fact the owner. We may also run a MLS search on the tenant’s former addresses to see if there were any MLS sales or rental activity that contradicts the rental time frame listed on the application. These two additional cross-checks can screen out applicants providing inaccurate information.
To verify an applicant’s identity, the information provided by the applicant is compared to several data sources. We use a product called ID Verify together with these databases as part of an ID verification and scoring algorithm. The Social Security Administration’s Death Master File is checked, SSN Validation is performed, the applicant’s address is validated, and the applicant is checked against the OFAC WatchList. This ID verification product also produces a score that ranges from 400 to 800. The closer the score is to 400, the more likely the risk of fraud.
As part of our tenant screening process, we contact the employer to verify employment and/or ask the applicant for a recent check stub. If the applicant is self-employed we request other documentation to satisfy proof of income. We recommend that income be at least three times the monthly rent to qualify.
Criminal Background, Eviction and Terrorist Database Search
We perform a criminal background check on each applicant as well as an eviction history search and federal terrorist database search. Most good applicants will sail through the tenant screening process and be approved. Otherwise, the tenant screening process may reveal “red flags” which we look into further. Commonly, an applicant may qualify based on income and rental history, but have poor credit. In some instances, if the applicant is a reasonable risk the additional security deposit equal to at least one month’s rent is required to take the property off the market. In all instances we are very thorough with our tenant screening and will never let an urgency to rent diminish our screening requirements.
Declined Rental Applications
After concluding our tenant screening, occasionally an applicant is declined for credit, income, or other background reasons. As licensed Florida real estate agents, we follow all governmental regulations as it pertains to tenant screening. The Federal Fair Housing Law prohibits us from discriminating against applicants because of their race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin. More information can be found at HUD.GOV. Applicants who are denied for credit reasons receive a denial letter from Lindsay Leasing. More information about consumer rights can be found here Fair Reporting Act (FCRA). More information about consumer credit reporting can be found at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) website as well.