Help me find out if these nice-seeming tenants are actually defaulting murderers.
February 22, 2009 9:04 PM   Subscribe

LandlordFilter: Who's got credit and criminal background checking service recommendations?

So, I have some applicants to rent my place out, and now I need to check out their viability as tenants. I can check on their work and rental histories by calling companies and landlords myself, but I need to pay someone to do credit and criminal background checks. Googling turns up a lot (including this, which appears both tempting and suspicious), so I'd prefer to go with something MeFites have already used without getting burned. Can anyone recommend a service?

In regard to credit, I'm more interested in defaults and bankruptcy than I am in a credit score number.
posted by ignignokt to Work & Money (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Many states have online court records, I don't know why you would pay someone to give you public information.
posted by delmoi at 11:09 PM on February 22, 2009

Credit I don't know, but contact your State Police about background checks. In Illinois there's a simple form, $10 fee. I googled IL state police backgound check and it went straight to a page with a link for the form. (The fee is porbably tax deductible for a landlord.)
posted by nax at 4:14 AM on February 23, 2009

In Minnesota, I use a service Tenant Check of MN. Fees are reasonable and the p-i-t-a factor is much less. They have a package deal where they check credit, verify income, previous rental referrals, and criminal and unlawful detainer search. Well worth hiring someone like that.

When I first got into landlording, I tried it myself. It can be done, but most of my renters worked at grocery stores, or retails where it was tough to find the right person for employment verification. I rarely got a call back from landlords, etc.

Here's a link to their fees (PDF file... dumb website they have). Use it for comparison.
posted by thilmony at 5:17 AM on February 23, 2009

Response by poster: nax, thanks for the info on the state police background check.

thilmony, it does sound like a lot could go wrong or at least take a while. I'll look around for something that includes rental referrals.

One of my friends did once use e-renter and found it satisfactory. I might go with that.
posted by ignignokt at 6:39 AM on February 23, 2009

You can ask your prospective tenants to provide you with a copy of their credit report. I think people can request a printout for themselves at the police station too, but that might only show things in the local area. Keep in mind that your tenants could conceivably fake these documents if they were inclined.
posted by yohko at 8:44 AM on February 23, 2009

I contacted several Private Investigators in my area, and was able to find one who would run background/credit checks for me.
posted by tillei at 10:48 AM on February 23, 2009

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