Property Management Background Screening
Property management companies have the responsibility not only to make sure that the staff handling the grounds of the property are loyal but the tenants on the property are also going to fulfill the terms of the contract agreed upon. Property management background screening should be conducted on all the individuals staffed or renting from the company. Making sure that the tenants are in a safe environment should be a major concern for the property management company.
If your property management company isn’t conducting a background screening on tenants and grounds staff, you should ask yourself why and look at any issues you may have had in the past years that could have been resolved with a simple property management background screening.
Property managements companies should have a screening process in place when it comes to approving a candidate for any type of rental property. What they write on the application may not always be true, or they could have had problems with past property management companies they rented from.
When trying to determine the type of property management background screening you should conduct on the tenants will depend on the type of search scope and how in-depth you want to go. You want to make sure that you aren’t going to have someone in the rental property that will possibly be a problem down the road.
A simple property management background screening to see if they currently have a job to pay the rent, and checking to see if they have any open or closed cases with property management companies with being evicted, not paying rent, etc. These are a few of the simple searches that can be done to just investigate their financial situation. Running a credit report will also see how they handle their own money financially. Do they have a lot of outstanding debt? Do they pay their bills on time? These are some of the searches that we can screen to just look at them financially.
A great next step in a property management background screening is to make sure that you are managing a safe environment by screening your tenants to see if they have any criminal records. Criminal records may not be as important as getting paid monthly for rent, but to your other tenants, it is important for them. They have valuables in their home and want it to remain that way, possibly having a tenant that has multiple thefts or trespassing charges are something that you would want to be cautious about. Or possibly they have had several drug charges for manufacturing out of their home. A criminal background screening on these tenants will help to make sure that everyone is safe.
Legalities to Tenant Screening
There are always going to be legalities when running any type of property management background screening on tenants when determining if they are fit to rent or lease from you. You always need to make sure that you receive a signed authorization from the tenant(s). You can’t run a background check on an individual when you are making a decision off of that. In April 2016, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued new guide rules when running a criminal background on a tenant and evaluating off of that. Some of the main points include:
- Landlords may not have a blanket ban on prospective tenants with a criminal background.
- Landlords must distinguish between arrests and convictions.
- Potential tenants cannot be denied for an arrest record.
- Landlords will need to evaluate the nature and severity of the crime, when the crime took place, what the person has done since the conviction, and consider each applicant on a case-by-case basis.
- If a potential tenant is denied due to a conviction, the landlord may have to prove that the exclusion is justified.
- The only exception to this guidance is when the conviction was for manufacturing or distributing drugs.
These are great guidelines to make sure that individuals who have not had any criminal activity since their last conviction be able to have a second chance. Even though we want to make sure that the tenants you rent and lease to are going to live a safe environment you also need to make sure that you abide by all the laws and regulations. Here is a link to the Fair Housing Act as well to make sure that you are not discriminating against anyone.
Grounds Staff Screening
Property management background screening isn’t just making sure that the tenants on the property are going to make it a safe environment you also need to make sure your staff who is maintaining the grounds are going to make it safe. Putting together a scope of searches to run on these candidates will all depend on the type of information you would like to know before officially hiring them.
Just like running a background check on a tenant, we can gather the same information as for an individual that will be working the grounds. People may think that ground staff is a minimal job but you have great responsibility and a lot could have access to individuals’ properties.
Being a maintenance worker to fix a problem in someone’s home, you may have access to their personal belongings when that tenant is not home. Being able to make sure you don’t hire someone with a criminal past of theft or burglary will have to be on your radar when you’re conducting a criminal check on them.
In Michigan, we don’t have many state restrictions on time limits when it comes running a criminal report. Governor Snyder passed a new law in September 2018, called “ban-the-box”. This does not allow job applications to ask if you have ever been convicted of a felony. Even though this had to do with just state jobs at this time, it is something to be on the watch out for as cities or counties may start to adopt this law for private employers as well. There are several states, cities, and counties in the US that have adopted this new law and have given candidates the second chance and not immediately negatively react that they have been convicted of a felony.
If you are unsure whether your state, city or county has adopted this law yet, you can check here
When hiring grounds staff, depending on the type of job title they will have, you want to make sure that they have the experience and qualification to handle the job. You wouldn’t want to hire someone who has never worked maintenance before and have them fix a problem in tenants’ home only to have the problem grow. This will cost you money in the long run, as you will need to hire someone else to get the problem fixed.
In the same way, having someone run the accounting department for the properties, you want to make sure that you have a candidate that is qualified and has had experience before. Having some simple checks done when screening your candidates will go along way and ensure that the property will run smoothly.
Whether you are looking to get a property management background screening on a tenant or a grounds staff we are able to put together a custom package to best suit your needs. We have experienced staff able to talk to you in detail that type of information we provide and can build a package for you. Don’t keep asking yourself every time a problem arises what you could have done to avoid this, prevent it now with screening everyone that will have access to your property.