Can landlords do periodic background checks on long term tenants?

6 Replies

This question is solely out of curiosity. Let's say I have a tenant for many years who is suddenly being inconsistent with rent payments, or an adult member of the household becomes suspicious, e.g., complaints are received about an adult child's criminal behavior. Would it be legal to require periodic background checks, if needed to check on suspicious behavior, and if so, can you evict someone because their background check no longer meets your requirements?

This is interesting, here's my take on it.

Criminal background checks are public records, so you can run it or search the local public records for the names as often as you like.  It's not like needing their signature to run their credit check.  I would not entertain re-running credit, and it would require permission.  I think any cost should be incurred by you.

If you have a M2M agreement you can give the required notice and end the contract.  If it is a lease you are required to demonstrate that they are no longer meeting the lease requirements, so re-read your lease.  I would focus on the poor payments and crack down on that.  I would also focus on trying to mutually (or one-sided) end the contract rather than eviction, eviction should be a last resort.

Have you checked with your local police to see if there is a landlord program where you get copied on any write-ups/visits that occur at your properties?  That is a great tool.  As is handing out your business cards to all the neighbors and ask them to contact you if they have concerns.  But, you need lease language to back up any action taken as a result.  

Thank you, Michele. I haven't actually faced this problem. It was just a question that entered my head.  I didn't know that landlord programs exist with police departments. I will definitely check on that. That's very good to know. 

In Florida landlords can terminate the lease if the tenants are being a nuisance to the neighbors and I do have that in my lease. 

Suspicious behavior = let the neighbor's call the cops. In my city jail time voids leases.

Late payments = fee. No payments = eviction.

I've never heard of a landlord re-screening long-term tenants. New tenants yes, long-term no. I suppose you could include it in your lease, but it sounds like a lot of effort for low odds and a very rare circumstance.

Would you evict for a misdemeanor or felony? Only after sentencing or before? Most of those things would mean a person finds themselves in jail and jobless, so they'd get evicted for lack of payment anyway.

If someone's been there a month or a decade, if they miss a payment = late fee, if they don't pay= evict. If they bother the neighbors, that violates my lease (quiet enjoyment, etc.) = eviction. 

My lease requires all adult members of the household to be screened no matter when they move in-- if someone has their felon adult child move in a decade later than they moved in, that person must pass my application.

@Christina Dunn you could simply make it a condition of lease renewal that they "re-qualify". With all the stuff going on about how it is discrimination to use a credit score for renting I would let them know that each year their information will be checked again prior to offering a lease extension.

Also, @Michele Fischer is right. Many areas have their criminal information right online. It's like Google for criminal records. I know Idaho is free and Colorado charges $7 (jerks).

First, I would ensure that all occupants over the age of 18 have completed an application passed a background check. If their child has turned 18 since originally qualifying, they need to complete an application. There may be a reason little Johnny can't move out and rent a place on his own. 

I also include a clause in the lease that allows me to re-run the application anytime (not more than 1xyear) during their tenancy. While long term tenants are wonderful, things happen and sometimes impact their decision to NOT move, like a criminal situation. It is good to have the clause in your lease in case you need it. 

@Meghan Martinez, would you share that clause?

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