Dorothy Or The Wicked Witch: Do You Really Know Your Tenants?

Last Updated: June 15, 2015By

free-property-valIt’s a little known fact that Dorothy’s Aunty Emm was renting the old farm house that blew away, and that poor landlord never received his insurance money!

Okay, so maybe we’ve made that up.

It’s no joke, however, when landlords end up with bad tenants who refuse to pay their rent, cause extensive damage to the property, and participate in illegal activities on the premises. Before renting to that promising looking applicant, it will pay you to find out if she will be a renter like Dorothy, or the Wicked Witch.

The best way to gain a complete picture of the potential tenant is with a thorough background screening process. Let’s talk about a few ways to learn more about your potential renters.

Will she let those flying monkeys damage your property? Renters who trash or have friends who trash your place can rack up thousands of dollars in damages that end up coming out of your pocket. Mitigate the chance of this happening by taking the time to do a landlord reference check. Hire a professional third party tenant screening company to obtain the important answers concerning how the tenant maintained their previous residence, and if the current landlord would feel comfortable renting to her again. A landlord reference check can also ask the question…..

Did she melt away, leaving a bunch of unpaid rent at her last place? The last sort of tenant you want to deal with is one who skips out on her rent. By conducting a thorough landlord reference check, you can review how well she paid her rent in the past. And it’s a fact, folks, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. If there is a pattern of late payments and non-payment, don’t take her on as a renter.

Does she have criminal convictions from throwing fire balls at people? One critical piece of information that should be used when deciding on a tenant is her criminal records history. A search of the applicant’s criminal convictions, which will be included in a criminal records history search, will allow you to gain insight into whether or not she is the type of person you are interested in having as a tenant. Important factors to review in an applicant’s criminal records history is the nature of the crime (how serious) and the date of the crime (recent or in the past). Be sure to send a declination letter if you choose not to rent to her based on something found in her criminal records history.

A criminal records history can also answer the question…..

Will she bring an illegal poppy field onto your property? Smart landlords will avoid renters who are involved with drugs. This will most likely not be evident by merely meeting the applicant. A criminal records history search will also uncover drug charges, and if so, heed the warning. If she is addicted to drugs, or sells drugs, minimize the risk to your property and your other renters and choose not to rent to her.

Did she bail on her last job to chase the red ruby slippers? Renters without jobs tend to struggle with paying the rent on time. This is why you should hire a professional third party screening company to conduct a thorough employment verification search. A solid best practice is to verify the last 5 years of employment history, whether at one or multiple jobs. Her employment history will allow you to better gauge if she is financially stable and likely to pay her rent.

Professional landlords must take all of these factors into consideration when choosing their newest renter. Spending the time to investigate the applicant’s background and review the findings will go a long way toward gaining a tenant who will pay her rent on time, respect your property, and not endanger your other tenants.

And then, your tenants can feel safe and happy to live there, because after all, ‘there’s no place like home”.

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At the American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA), our mission is to serve the interests of landlords, real estate brokers, property managers, real estate owners and apartment building owners nationally. Visit for more information about membership details!


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