Written Rental policy detailing guidelines on Sreening /Application-no criminal history

11 Replies

 I am trying to create good policies for Screening Applicants -  NO CRIMINAL HISTORY- may be too strict-  It is hard to decide and I would like hear what is your experience or input:

1) speed tickets- how many infractions allowed? Time after infraction a factor? Can an infraction older than 7 years be a denial factor? What the speed or difference in speed allowed?

2) Do you approve DUI in the Criminal Records? How many ? Time elapsed since infraction? Can an infraction older than 7 years be a denial factor?

3) Any suggestions for  online free or paid  reliable  National criminal search or  North Carolina- Charlotte criminal search that you  can disclose to the prospective tenant as source of the denial?

4) What other types of Criminal background do you feel that is safe to allow in your approval applications?

5) Do you have any guidelines or book you recommend about  Screening/Applications?

6) What do have in your application as a factor for denial under the Criminal Background?

Any other questions/inputs  or histories  are welcome!

Thank you!

Alessandra

I don't have any prohibitions concerning driving offenses including DUI even though my only sibling was killed by a drunk driver.  But if they had repeated violations I'd probably still pass.  

@Alessandra C.  

If it was just one occurrence and it has been a while, I would ignore it. I wouldn't care about speeding tickets or something like that. I am looking for domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other big things like robbery. I want to make sure that the neighbors feel safe, and limit my troubles by taking on a bad tenant. I wouldn't want to be responsible for housing a known sex offender next door to a family.

This may have to be a case by case determination on your part, when examining the results of the criminal check.

The big thing about DUI for landlords is actually financial: Can your tenant still get to work if they take their driver's license away? Not a lot of people think about that one.

North Carolina specifically sells its court data to a whole bunch of companies but it cannot be accessed directly AFAIK.

Ari

I submit a written list of requirements to the applicants so there are no questions about any rejections.  I have a no felonies policy as well as a no violent or drug related crimes.  These are mainly because I do not want any of my rentals becoming police magnets.  As far as the other things like DUI or public intoxication I let one slide but if I see a trend of them stringing out for multiple years I usually pass because that tells me that this person has a habit of making poor decisions and it is tough to hold a job or pay rent when they are in jail.

For background screening I recommend National Tenant Network (NTNonline.com) or RentPrep (Rentprep.com).  Both of these services will perform a state and national criminal background search as well as rental history (eviction)/credit check.  For about $35 per person they will do a full background check as well as give you a rating and recommendation.  If they reject the candidate they also provide a notification that you can give to the applicant which is very important because it gets you out of the liability of being the one that rejects the candidate.

Hope this helps.

Here's how we screen for legal history:

LEGAL/CRIMINAL HISTORY

1. Criminal offenses (misdemeanor or felony) of a violent nature against either person or property will result in denial.

2. Applicants with a non-violent criminal misdemeanor that occurred more than two years ago or a non-violent criminal felony that occurred more than five years ago may be considered if restitution for their crime was made in full and all time was served. Also, we would require an additional security deposit and demonstration of good employment history, good credit histiory and good rental history since the time of the crime. Multiple offenders will be denied regardless of what the employment, credit and rental history shows.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

You also have to define what you use to determine a match, since no SSN will be attached to most court records. I state that a match occurs when a court record has the same name and date of birth as the applicant. Think how many John Smith matches there might be. 

Then there are things like pardons, exonerations, cases that did not go to trial yet, cases that have not been tried but have passed the statute of limitations, etc. 

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak:

You also have to define what you use to determine a match, since no SSN will be attached to most court records. I state that a match occurs when a court record has the same name and date of birth as the applicant. Think how many John Smith matches there might be. 

Then there are things like pardons, exonerations, cases that did not go to trial yet, cases that have not been tried but have passed the statute of limitations, etc. 

 Good call! I don't have these definitions on the screening/Application police. I also decide to include policies that when there is a  dispute of information between the prospective tenant and the company that provided the screening (refund application fee and the tenant has a choice to re- apply once the dispute is solved)

Originally posted by @Beth L.:

@Alessandra Czerveny 

If it was just one occurrence and it has been a while, I would ignore it. I wouldn't care about speeding tickets or something like that. I am looking for domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other big things like robbery. I want to make sure that the neighbors feel safe, and limit my troubles by taking on a bad tenant. I wouldn't want to be responsible for housing a known sex offender next door to a family.

This may have to be a case by case determination on your part, when examining the results of the criminal check.

 The problem of case by case is that the rule would not be applied to all and could be opening doors for a lawsuit. 

Originally posted by @Cal C.:

I don't have any prohibitions concerning driving offenses including DUI even though my only sibling was killed by a drunk driver.  But if they had repeated violations I'd probably still pass.  

 Multi- familiy is a problem and  a hard call on DUI. How about an accident in the common area-parking caused by a tenant with previous DUI?

My tenant selection criteria provides as follows:

Denial is warranted if:

1.The applicant or a household member has been convicted of a felony or a Class A or Class B misdemeanor. A conviction under these criteria shall not be considered if a period of more than ten (10) years has elapsed since the date of the conviction or of the release of the applicant or a household member from the confinement imposed for that conviction, whichever is the later date.

2.The applicant or a household member is subject to a registration requirement under a state or Federal Sex Offender Registration Act.