Tenant Screening

Tenant Screening: Criminal Records Check

You’ve heard many stories about houses being burned down or damaged by illegal activities that tenants take part in. These include illegal drug sale, meth labs, bomb making, etc. Proper criminal records could help prevent this from happening to you. A good criminal records search will reveal any criminal activity your applicants may have been convicted of.

The question is, “Who’s responsible for the compensating the property owners?” Authorities sometimes even make the decision to destroy the house in the interest of public safety, where does that leave the owners of the home, who rented it to the accused tenant? Should the owners’ insurance company reimburse them for the loss? Or is this a necessary expense of the taxpayers, who are already burdened with the expenses of removing the hazard and the resulting cleanup?

Obviously, the tenant bears the full responsibility for his actions. But it’s doubtful he’ll have the ability to repay the homeowner. Some say the landlords should be responsible for their loss and to the county for all expenses because of negligence-that they should have known of this tenant’s activities. Questions have arisen about whether proper criminal records search and periodic inspections were conducted.

A thorough criminal records search could have revealed any prior convictions and raised red flags about renting to these applicants, thereby diminishing any possible claims of negligence on the landlord part.

Most landlords know that their tenants have the right to peaceful habitation, without harassment or unnecessary inspections. However, landlords who care about their properties schedule periodic maintenance to not only protect the property value, but to ensure that illegal or dangerous activity is not taking place, and of course they conduct the required criminal records search before approving the rental application.

In the meantime, a word to the wise: keep conducting thorough criminal records searches and background checks, and schedule periodic inspections of your rental properties. It’s so much better to be safe than sorry!