Landlord Due Diligence – Criminal Record Reports – Credit Reports – Tenant Background Checks – Accurate Credit Bureau

A landlord has a general duty to exercise reasonable care to protect the safety and welfare of his tenants from foreseeable harm. Due care must be exercised in the use, maintenance, and management of rental premises. While a landlord may not be able to eliminate all risk from his business, he can certainly take measures to reduce his exposure to unnecessary risk.

A landlord does not want a tenant using the rental unit as a base for criminal activity, posing a direct threat to the safety of others, and willfully damaging rental property or the property of others. Screening rental applicants for history of criminal conduct and rejecting those applicants with a history of violent crime or property damage may help protect persons and property against possible harm. There may even be an implied duty of care to ensure that tenants and property are protected from foreseeable harm. Landlords of multi-family housing units have a legal duty to warn and protect tenants about known dangers that would pose a current, direct threat to safety.

Many landlords consider their application process including the rental application form itself, the applicant interview, and strong rental policies that are consistently enforced will be sufficient to help identify high risk individuals whose behaviors would pose a potential threat to persons and property. Interviewing previous landlords and personal references; searching public records for court ordered evictions, bankruptcy, liens, and judgments; and contacting current employers may also provide clues to potential risks. A credit report, while containing a wealth of personal and financial information, does not provide information on criminal records. If the landlord feels the need for additional screening, he may consider a criminal history search as part of his due diligence. To do background screening on a potential applicant see Accurate Credit Bureau.

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