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Can I See Your ID Please? Why Landlords Should Card Potential Tenants

Kevin Perk
2 min read

It is an unfortunate fact in today’s world that people lie and steal.

Couple that fact with the rise of the internet and social networking where much of our personal information is out there for the world to see and it becomes clear that someone can very easily claim to be someone else.

And that someone could be applying to rent one of your properties.

Why would someone use another identity to try and rent on of your properties? There are a host of reasons, such as:

  • They could be a petty thief
  • They could be a major thief
  • They might have terrible credit that is preventing them from renting
  • They might be on the run from the law
  • They might be a convicted felon trying to hide their violent past
  • They might be a convicted sex offender trying to hide their perverted past.

None of which I think you generally want in your properties.

Protecting Yourself

So how do you as a landlord protect yourself?

How do you make sure who really is moving into your property?

It’s pretty easy actually. you just ask to see their ID.  Our policy is to ask to see an ID twice, once during the application process and again at the lease signing.

During the application process an ID must be submitted with the application for it to be processed.  We want to be sure we have the legal and correct spelling of the applicant’s name along with other info such as date of birth and past address.

Even if the applicant is applying from somewhere out of town it is not a problem.  Most folks will simply take a picture of their ID with their smart phone and e-mail it to us along with their application.

Ah ha you say!  How do you know then who is really applying from a picture that was e-mailed to you?  Could they not have taken any old ID picture?  They could have yes.  That is way our policy is to require seeing the ID a second time at the lease signing, in person.  The picture had better match who is sitting at the signing table or no sale.

So what types of ID’s are acceptable? Generally any government issued ID with a picture will work.  Driver’s Licenses are the most common.  But passports, military ID’s and even gun permits are acceptable (we have those here in Tennessee).  Just be sure to use one of them during your application process.

Whatever ID you use look at the ID closely as well as the applicant and application.  Does everything match?  Does anything look tampered with?  Is some part of the story not adding up?  If you have any suspicion, no matter how small, listen to it.

Go with your gut feeling and dig deeper.  You could save yourself a ton of trouble later on just by asking for and checking an ID.
Photo Credit: Nicobobinus

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.