The popular song "I Fought the Law" by The Clash makes one thing clear: you won't get away with crime. Statistics seem to back up that fact. About 80 million of your fellow Americans have criminal records.
As a landlord, this is a concerning statistic when going through the process of tenant screening in Boulder, CO. How do you know the person on the application is trustworthy? The answer is a tenant background check.
A background check for landlords helps weed out the good tenants from the bad. Before you conduct one, though, read this guide for three things you should know about them.
1. A Tenant Background Check Requires Consent
You can't just choose the best tenant background check service and run it. You need the express permission of the prospective tenant to do so. It is illegal to proceed without it in the majority of cases.
So, play it safe. Let applicants know that you're going to conduct a background check and ask for their permission. Have your lawyer draft a form that they can fill out and keep on file.
It's a hassle, but a worthy one. You wouldn't want to discover a tenant was a criminal after renewing them for another year.
2. Applicants Can Pay for Their Checks
Another thing you'll learn during Boulder tenant screening is that it's expensive. Just a handful of applicants can add up in cost faster than you may realize. Luckily, it's legal and standard practice to charge them for a background check.
You can include it in the application fee, or keep it separate. Just make sure, as before, to inform them of the cost and what it's for. No one likes hidden fees, just as landlords sometimes don't like pets.
The benefit is that you never have to shoulder the burden of a background check for a tenant you choose not to consider.
3. Be Wary of Discrimination
Discrimination is a very real societal issue, especially when it comes to renting a property. Landlords may choose not to rent to minorities, which brings up obvious concerns of prejudice. To combat this, the federal government passed the Fair Housing Act.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against someone in the tenant selection process. This includes conducting background checks against minorities, but not against other applicants. Applicants may feel you've targeted them based on their minority status and take you to court.
It's important to realize that you can suffer real penalties even if you didn't discriminate on purpose. The solution here is easy. Conduct a background check on everyone, regardless of who they are.
Manage Your Rentals with PMI
A tenant background check is a necessary tool to weed out the bad tenants from the good. Just make sure you ask for consent before carrying them out and stay aware of the potential for accidental discrimination. Consider charging more for your application fee to cover the cost of the background check.
PMI Flatirons Group gives you second-to-none property management services in Boulder. Begin your journey as a landlord by using our free rental analysis.