Should I screen my applicants in West Palm Beach? – Part 2

In our last article, Should I screen my applicants in West Palm Beach? – Part 1, we identified the importance of screening an applicant and we also discussed some of the key elements of the credit report. In this article we’re going to discuss the criminal background check and it’s part in an effective applicant screening process.

After years of managing properties, this has been an integral part of our screening process. Depending on who you get your reports from can impact the quality of the information you get. One of the items we discovered was that when doing the criminal background, not to be just state specific. It may cost you a little more but in addition to your state report, be sure to add a national background. You never know when their maybe something that occurred in a state outside of where you’re renting the home in.

Why do we perform a criminal background check? How would you like your valuable property tied up in a criminal case for months with no income? When reviewing the report we check for violent convictions for the last 10 years; drug convictions for the last 10 years and score them accordingly. It’s up to you how much weight you want to place on these types of convictions. All other convictions or charges we may not weigh as heavily as the other two. We prefer for no convictions and the scoring system substantiates that fact.

Recently we attended an informational meting hosted by the city to share information about legal-aid and potential violations that could affect an owner directly or indirectly. One of the most eye-opening topics discussed was that of a nuisance property. What’s that, you ask? If a resident is consistently being a nuisance to the neighborhood via loud behavior after certain hours or there is illegal activity conducted at the residence, some municipalities may use their nuisance laws or ordinances to condemn the property for up to a year. Could you imagine having to board your income producing property for a year and all the hassle that comes with it.

One other item you may find on the criminal background check is the applicant may be convicted as a sexual predator. This one is a big deal, depending on how close your property is to a school, park, etc., you may not be able to rent to this applicant. There are some owners that are willing to do so. The applicant understands that anywhere they go, they must post their picture and advise all the neighbors of their status as a sexual offender.

Take the time to obtain and review a thorough criminal background check and establish your criteria as to how you will enforce it every time. Consistency is key.
In our next article we’ll cover the employement and income verification.

Happy Renting,
Juan Restrepo