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How to Run a Credit Check on a Prospective Tenant

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What Landlords Must Do Before Running a Credit Check
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YOU Must Be Approved Before You Can Run a Credit Check on Prospective Tenants

To verify that you are an actual landlord who is using their service to run credit checks on tenants, most companies will require you to submit information to confirm this. The required forms will vary by company, but can include:

  • A document verifying your current address (telephone bill or similar).
  • Proof of identification (driver’s license or passport).
  • Proof that you own the rental property (deed, insurance document, mortgage statement, proof of title, utility bills, purchase agreement).

It can take from 2 to 10 days to get approved, but once approved, it will be a much quicker turnaround time to run credit checks on prospective tenants. Checks can sometimes be done in a matter of seconds.

Decide if You Will Charge a Fee to Run a Credit Check

This is a matter of personal preference. Some landlords find that charging an application fee, such as $15, to run a credit check saves them money in the long run because prospective tenants with poor credit will usually not consent to pay a fee. Other landlords are afraid that charging a fee will deter even good tenants from applying to rent their property.

Another option is to charge the fee, but if the tenant rents the apartment, you will deduct the fee from the first month’s rent or will add it to their security deposit. A final option is to only perform credit checks on applicants that first leave a deposit for the apartment and have completely filled out your application, so that you know they are truly interested in the apartment.

Verify Items Before Running a Credit Check

To save yourself time and money, you can verify certain things on your own.

  • Prospective Tenant's Name: Ask to see an ID so you can verify that the name and the face are one in the same. Make a copy of the ID to keep with the application.
  • Employment History: You can call their current employer to verify their salary and employment status.
  • Prospective Tenant's Current Address and Landlord: Find out if they do live there, and if so, what type of tenant they are.

If they have lied about any of these things, there is really no sense in proceeding with a credit check because they are most likely not someone you will want to rent to.

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