Re: Sec 8 Tenant background Check - Posted by Sailor
Posted by Sailor on October 20, 2008 at 17:40:16:
I use , but there are a variety of other sites. Check the Archives for other recommendations. Whatever resource you use, do your own check of references & other info on your application. I research property records to verify that the person giving a glowing recommendation is really the current or former landlord. I also do a reverse phone directory search. Often I drive by the current residence, even the places where relatives or references live. I’m in a rural area w/only 12,000 residents, so I have reliable sources who know almost everyone, & I check w/them for a thumbs up or down. Some names I already recognize because I read the weekly arrest & court records. I examine the types of credit problems. I reject applicants who have a utility bill in collections, but disregard medical collections. A video store collection account is a major red flag. If I see a questionable behavior pattern I’ll require a criminal background report. Some of my colleagues require that for all applicants. A fib on the application is an automatic rejection. FICO score is the last thing I take into account.
I can approve some applicants in a matter of minutes, & I research some for 3-4 hours. I reject c. 75% of all applicants. Some I reject just by looking @ the application; if they just don’t qualify because of income, I won’t even run credit, & just refund the application fee ($20 per single; $30 per married couple). However, if I can tell there’s false information, I keep the fee.
Recently I’ve added another arrow to my quiver–MySpace. It is amazing what folks w/post online about themselves. Since I started using this resource I have located pages from almost every applicant, & some of the references & supposed landlords. An applicant swore he didn’t smoke, yet I found several photos of him, cigarette in hand. I don’t take tenants who post pics of themselves holding weapons or playing kissy-face with a pit bull. If drinking or shooting is the favorite pastime, I’ll pass.
A bad tenant can severely impact your life, your property, & your bank account. Those are good reasons to expend some effort in getting an accurate picture of what kind of people w/whom you are entrusting so much. Remember that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, so previous mistakes are likely to be repeated.
Section 8 is a mixed bag. I like the inspections because sometimes they find things I missed & need to correct. I detest working w/my local caseworkers because they are often ignorant, rude & demeaning. They are also lazy & petty.
What you have to understand is that although you can increase your potential tenant pool by offering Section 8, & though you have NO protection from a bad tenant, yet @ the same time you & your property are tied up for a year. If the tenant decides to move, she gets to move. If you want her (& illegal boyfriend) out, you have virtually no recourse, even if there is criminal activity & arrest (yes, your lease says something different, but it really doesn’t work that way.
Section 8 is a very mixed bag. I love the regular checks, but these days the checks can be as little as $100 & you still have to chase the tenant for the balance. I still offer Section 8, but I don’t rely on it, & I do a thorough background check.
I hope others tell you their experiences, so you can get a more well-rounded picture of the situation. Note that HUD varies greatly from one office to another, so I’d also check w/local landlords. Good luck & keep us posted–