Slum/Landlord filter: Please recommend me sites for running background & credit checks
June 22, 2010 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Slum/Landlord filter: Please recommend me sites for running background & credit checks

I need to rent out my place and I have been trying to line up some websites so I can run credit checks and background checks on any future renters.

Do you have any that you've used in the past & liked?

I don't mind paying for the service since the applicant will pay for the credit check. Just so that they are accurate & easy to work with.

Also I plan on contacting employers to verify their jobs & salaries & their previous landlords. Anything else I should look out for? tips?
posted by cuando to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't mind paying for the service since the applicant will pay for the credit check.

You're making potential renters pay for a background check? I'm sorry, but unless you're in an area where the rental market is highly competitive and/or your place is highly desirable, that's totally going to turn off good renters.

Renters know that you'll be checking them out, but you'll mark yourself as an asshole landlord if you ask them to pay for it.
posted by amyms at 2:10 PM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's actually a pretty standard practice for potential renters to pay an application fee that covers any costs associated with processing their application -- including a credit and criminal background check. That cost should not come out of your pocket.

It also doesn't make you come off as an asshole landlord. You have to know who you are entering into a lease with.

As far as your question, I work for a company that offers this screening service for large apartment communities. It's a great product, but I don't think it's a great deal for someone who only has a single renter at a time. If you're still interested and want more info, just mefi-mail me. I feel weird and spammy recommending a company I work for on the green.
posted by mattybonez at 2:38 PM on June 22, 2010


Having potential tenants pay for background checks is standard. However, I suspect that many employers will not disclose the salaries of their employees. This is why you request paycheck stubs. I'm curious why you included "slum/landlord" in the title. Is this a joke?
posted by proj at 2:51 PM on June 22, 2010


Slum/Landlord was a badly executed joke. I'm obviously new to the property management business and I'm just trying to figure out how to be the best landlord and not end up with my condo in shambles.

As for charging the applicants for a credit check: I'm just doing what I've gone through as a renter and what the application I bought at Staples instructs me to do.
posted by cuando at 2:57 PM on June 22, 2010


I don't think you can get salary information...employment law prohibits HR from telling you pretty much anything except verification that someone does or did work there.
posted by radioamy at 6:30 PM on June 22, 2010


You're making potential renters pay for a background check? I'm sorry, but unless you're in an area where the rental market is highly competitive and/or your place is highly desirable, that's totally going to turn off good renters.

Strongly disagree. Certainly there will be potential applicants who will scoff at paying any sort of application fee, but many landlording books recommend the practice and tenants looking for responsible landlords (versus cheapest places) should recognize that this is how they get to live someplace safe.

Some states actually regulate what can be charged as an application fee, because there are in fact abusively high fees. As a practical matter, applicants who cannot afford a background check fee are more likely to have problems paying the rent eventually (and vice versa), so it provides a very rough metric of affordability.

In Wisconsin:
Credit Check Fees
A landlord may require a prospective tenant to pay a “credit check” fee to cover the
landlord’s actual cost to obtain a credit report on the prospective tenant.
·
The landlord may charge the fee only for a credit report obtained from a national
consumer credit reporting agency.
·
The fee may not exceed $20 or the landlord’s actual cost, whichever is less.
·
The landlord may not charge the fee if the prospective tenant gives the landlord a
credit report, from a national consumer credit reporting agency, that is not more than
30 days old.
·
The fee is not considered an “earnest money” deposit.


Please don't even joke about "slumlord" if you have any self-respect as a landlord. The rest of us suffer from the prejudice, and the neighborhoods suffer by it being treated lightly. It's a serious problem and doing background checks is one small way to address it.
posted by dhartung at 10:52 PM on June 22, 2010


That's terrible. I'm glad this practice is illegal where I live.

The rental market here is very cyclical, and once I had the good fortune to be looking for a place to live during winter (when not many other people are looking). It's standard for real estate agents here to request details of previous property managers or landlords so they can contact them for a reference. One place I went to look at had a form that they wanted applicants to get their current agents/landlords to fill out. I knew that my rental history and employment meant I'd have no trouble finding somewhere else, so that one went straight in the bin.

If this is a common practice where you live, or if the rental market is tight, you'll probably get away with it. If not, you'll risk pissing off the good tenants and ending up with people desperate enough to pay for the privilege of having a landlord assess their application.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:47 AM on June 23, 2010


In case anyone has the same question in the future I went with http://www.citicredit.net/

I had to prove that I was a landlord by providing lots of documentation and follow many rules so that I wasn't breaking any rules or invading anyone's privacy. In the end though I got a nice system for making sure future tenants hadn't skipped out on bills in the past
posted by cuando at 7:22 AM on June 29, 2010


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