Testing Perspective Tenants / Covid

29 Replies

I have some questions regarding tightening up my criteria for selecting prospective tenants, and weeding out potential bad eggs.

Does anybody have any thoughts on hiring a professional to administer a polygraph test and/ or a lie detector test to potential tenants? I am not beyond doing this. Maybe even a Criminologist or a Psychological profiler?

If anyone on this form is local to  Metro Atlanta Georgia, and is a professional that can administer these tests, I would welcome hearing from you.

Most people polygraph themselves on social media. Why not just run your standard background check after verifying the kind of person you're dealing with by reading through their social media profiles?

I don't know many people who would agree to have a polygraph test to rent an apartment! I'm sure I wouldn't!  Well, maybe out of curiosity, and if I could get you to ask my husband a few extra questions, maybe!

Thank you everyone for your replies.I agree with many of your comments.

I do run a background check on every perspective tenant that hands in an application. Which includes: criminal, credit, prior eviction (wouldn't help now with Covid,) plus checking their sex offender status and social media.

You would think that those screenings are enough, I know I did. Now I find myself wanting to add more self protection measures to the tenant screening process, so that I don't end up with someone else's problem tenant.

What some tenants are putting their landlords through with the Covid protections that were in place is criminal, in my opinion. 

If they are acting like criminals, why not pull out all the stops to protect yourself and your investments?





If that's a serious suggestion, then I would seriously suggest you get out of the rental business and invest in the stock market. A polygraph takes 1-3 hours to administer, not including scheduling and travel requirements, and costs hundreds of dollars.

And your subject line mentions COVID, but I don't see any question or comment relating to that.

If I were a renter, I would turn and run.

Originally posted by @Nathan G. :

If that's a serious suggestion, then I would seriously suggest you get out of the rental business and invest in the stock market. A polygraph takes 1-3 hours to administer, not including scheduling and travel requirements, and costs hundreds of dollars.

And your subject line mentions COVID, but I don't see any question or comment relating to that.

If I were a renter, I would turn and run.

 Nathan,

You are entitled to your opinion. My purpose with the post was to find some serious answers to my questions and or some points for me to consider going forward. 

I have been in this business well over 10 years. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly concerning tenants. I've had to evict three and hope to never have to do it again as it is emotional for me as well as for them. 

If you have something constructive to add or to suggest I am welcome to hearing that, but otherwise please keep your negative comments to yourself. 

There is no need to be ugly on this forum because we're all on here to become better at our careers. Wouldn't you agree?

Originally posted by Linda A Hawkins:
Originally posted by @Nathan G. :

If that's a serious suggestion, then I would seriously suggest you get out of the rental business and invest in the stock market. A polygraph takes 1-3 hours to administer, not including scheduling and travel requirements, and costs hundreds of dollars.

And your subject line mentions COVID, but I don't see any question or comment relating to that.

If I were a renter, I would turn and run.

 Nathan,

You are entitled to your opinion. My purpose with the post was to find some serious answers to my questions and or some points for me to consider going forward. 

I have been in this business well over 10 years. I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly concerning tenants. I've had to evict three and hope to never have to do it again as it is emotional for me as well as for them. 

If you have something constructive to add or to suggest I am welcome to hearing that, but otherwise please keep your negative comments to yourself. 

There is no need to be ugly on this forum because we're all on here to become better at our careers. Wouldn't you agree?

I am serious and I am sorry you feel insulted.

If you want to polygraph your applicants, you won't have any applicants. That's a pretty simple truth that a dozen or so respondents agree with.

I manage around 400 rentals (I own 33 myself). My last eviction through the court was in 2014. You can start by increasing your standards to higher credit scores, higher rent:income ratio, or even requiring larger deposits. Or you can tighten your policies to nip problems in the bud quickly. Or you an find creative ways to remove problem tenants that don't involve the court, breaking the law, or rewarding bad tenants.

A polygraph is not a realistic option.

That's too much admin work! I post a rental listing in Suwanee on a Thursday and received 15 applications over night. I thought just reviewing all the application on time and respond on a timely manner is already time consuming! LOL. you filter out the one that meet all your criteria. I pick the most qualified on paper, talk to them then call their references. 

Try meet your tenant, talk to them as well. You'll get a sense of who you want to rent to. 

@Linda A Hawkins

I really don't think a polygraph is a reasonable screening tool for tenants. I do far more invasive screening than a lot of the landlords out there. I really go into depth on local court records and social media when I'm looking hard at a candidate. A polygraph can also be beaten. I don't think this is a reasonable alternative method to screen candidates for a house or apartment.

Thank you Nathan G.

I appreciate those of you who gave constructive input and valuable insights to consider. 

Mike Dymski your comment added no value to an educational forum such as Bigger Pockets, nor my post.  Did your comment enrich the readers? Did your comment come from a place of helping a fellow Bigger Pockets poster? Some possible things to consider Mike Dymski before trying to discredit another human being.

What I am hearing is that I need to be more stealth in my approach, so it sounds like I need to be more of a private investigator! I can do that too.

Originally posted by Linda A Hawkins:

Thank you Nathan G.

I appreciate those of you who gave constructive input and valuable insights to consider. 

Mike Dymski your comment added no value to an educational forum such as Bigger Pockets, nor my post.  Did your comment enrich the readers? Did your comment come from a place of helping a fellow Bigger Pockets poster? Some possible things to consider Mike Dymski before trying to discredit another human being.

What I am hearing is that I need to be more stealth in my approach, so it sounds like I need to be more of a private investigator! I can do that too.

@Linda A Hawkins I realize you are new here, so I will share with you that @Mike Dymski and @Nathan G. are both regular posters in these forums and both provide high value. What Mike provided here was humor, something that the world actually needs more of. I assure you Mike made a joke and Nathan knows it is a joke. 

I honestly sense that your tone is very serious. Maybe too serious, indicating some stress. I actually thought your suggestion of a polygraph was a joke originally. Having been in these forums daily for years, I have never once heard any of the thousands of landlords suggest a polygraph. No professional property manager or apartment operator would every consider such extreme measures. It is not even logical to believe a potential tenant would agree to this. They would think the landlord was crazy. 

Before you tell me to stop my negativity, I will clarify that being honest with you is not being negative. Just because you don't want to hear something, doesn't mean it isn't true. That requires unbiased self reflection to acknowledge your thinking may be "off the tracks."

In my experience the best indicator or tenant responsibility is good credit. If a tenant has a clean and responsible credit report, they will pay on time and keep the property relatively clean. Another indicator of responsibility is employment history. Requiring 2 years at current company or in current profession shows they can consistently hold a job. Crazy people who don't pay rent generally can't hold jobs and have bad credit. It is really that simple. All this nonsense about polygraphs comes off sounding crazy. I get that you are frustrated, but abandoning logic isn't the solution to your problem.

If a landlord wanted me to take a covid test , or show proof of having the shots and then wanted a lie detector test , I would run for the hills while laughing my *** off . Credit score , employment history , criminal background check and social media give more than enough info . 

@Linda A Hawkins - No one was insulting you or being mean. A sense of humor would go a long way towards solving some of your issues. Mike and Nathan are smart guys. You are another poster who comes on here asking for advice, but doesn't really want any unless it agrees with your already formed viewpoint.

But if you want more advice, here it is....forget Polygraph testing. Increase your screening standards if you are having problems with tenants. Forget Covid testing too....I don't know anyone who would agree to that....

Joe Splitrock, 

You are right I am new to posting on here. You are also right that my post has a serious tone. I am not on this forum for joking. Whether or not you believe the discussion needed to lighten up, you are welcome to your own opinion.

What I am not privey to is the prior joking relationship between Mike D and Nathan, and it doesn't even matter to me. 

Nor does it matter to me if they bring value to the site. All I know is the experience I have had with this post.If either of them were joking at my expense, I take issue with that. 

With some of of the answers I received, I doubt I will even post again. I thought this forum was to help each other out in our prospective careers not to be bullied by the good ole boys if they don't agree with my stance. That includes you Joe.

In the past, I have spoke highly of this site. Now, if someone asks me about creating a post on here to answer a question, I will tell them to forget it unless they want to possibly be the butt of someone's joke and or not taken seriously. I was on here to learn. 

I have thanked the people that gave different points of view, if done respectfully. The last post I received was a man that I reported for talking to me about porn.

What a horrible experience this has been. 

Linda Hawkins CPS                            CEO and Founder Haven Manor Inc 

@Linda A Hawkins I can tell you are frustrated.  And if you are having a bad run of tenants I can certainly understand.  I'm sure you put in a great deal of effort in getting your places ready for the new tenant and all you are asking for in return is for them to pay their rent on time and respect the property.  I know that's what I expect.  But I would surprised if anyone were to agree to anyhting beyond the background checks we all do.  We have certain criteria we us beyond the background checks.   One of the most telling things is when you verify employment and previous rental history.  When you get a business phone number or a rental office phone number, confirm it for yourself.  You may actually be calling Uncle Bob who is going to tell you the person is a great tenant.  When in reality if you actually got through to the true rental office you might find out they were routinely late or to the actual employer and find out they were just fired or quit.  I noticed a few people suggest looking at social media.  And to the best of my knowledge there isn't any law keeping from doing this.  But this can be a slippery slope.  Despite the fact that this wouldn't be the case it could be misconstrued that a decision was based on something that could be considered discriminatory.  So be very careful if you go down this road.  Here's a good site for more thoughts. https://www.apartmentlist.com/...  But as others have said, once you narrow it down go with your gut.  If you get a bad feeling then keep looking.  Just remember to keep it consistent and bove board.

Thank you, Jim Kalish. Your well thought out answers, and respectful tone is refreshing. You have made some very valid points to consider. 

Respectfully,

Linda Hawkins CPS                         CEO and Founder Haven Manor Inc