Tenant Consent For Background Checks in SC

7 Replies

I am reevaluating the background check process for a mobile home park. Instead of using a site such as Cozy, I'd rather perform the background check myself. In South Carolina, is consent for background checks required? So far I have only found sites that require applications to authorize the background check being performed on them. I'd like to eliminate this step if I can, specifically because it just adds another step for the applicant to go through and puts up another roadblock to them finally signing a lease - we've found that our extensive application process is deterring applicants and we're trying to cut it down. 

@Theresa P. Depends on what you mean by "background check".  You can check public records without consent.  In my state, that would include things like court records, criminal convictions, sex offender registration, etc.  However, to actually pull their credit, you will need their consent regardless of what state you're in.

I pull credit reports myself on applicants once they apply and I much prefer it over sending them through a third party site because there's no delay or extra step in me getting the information I need to make a decision.

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@Theresa P. I'm pretty sure you need consent for any information and/or background checks you perform on prospective applicants. This should be reflected on the application with their signature for approval. Hope that helps! 

@Theresa P. , you definitely need their consent for private information.  If it's public, have at it.

Also, sites like Cozy and even us do not actually perform the background check.  We are simply a platform provider that allows you to order screening reports.  It is your responsibility to still perform due diligence on the tenant.  Consider it a tool among your process of the macro screening process.  Anyways I personally use our site for my screening reports, I still have more tasks to fully screen a tenant besides only the report.

If you would like additional information on screenings, please feel free to contact me and I'd be happy to address.

A lot of landlord software services have established partnerships with one of the major credit bureaus, but as part of that application process, there still is an area where applicants must authorize the request/consent to the request. 

Usually, it can make things easier if you go that route simply for the fact that there's not as much push back because it feels very automated. Still, those reports are being pulled via the partner so consent is 100% necessary. Public information - good to go, but in order to ascertain their credit history/score, you'll definitely need their approval. 

Having said that, some platforms help you to keep everything in one place and offer fully comprehensive background checks which include the basic application information (job history, rental history, and requires that the applicant provides some supporting documentation, ie. valid form of government ID, most recent paystubs, and contact information for prior landlords etc) - but in addition to the basic information, it includes the information pulled from TransUnion (one of the three major credit bureaus). This can include credit score, nationwide criminal background check, sex-offender list check, international criminal check, and eviction history (so any public records or information that might be connected to legal court proceedings would be pulled back as well). You have the ability to auto-request applications (keeps everything easy and in one place - so listing, tenant screening applications, leases and other tools like rent collection and maintenance tracking are all available, just to keep the process seamless). Let me know if you have any questions. Would be more than happy to help! @Theresa P.

@Theresa P. I recommend always having your applicant fill out and consent to have their background check ran on them.  You can run into legal issues down the road if you do not obtain their consent to run their background.  There are services out there where you can enter your applicant's information without your applicant being involved in the process at all.  I would suggest checking out landlord resources tab, I think you will find this beneficial for doing background checks on your applicants. 

remember - if you pull the prospective tenants credit, you have the responsibility of providing them a copy of their report. Fair credit reporting laws.

Cozy and the other providers do this for you.