Tenant Screening

Tenant Screening Options for Property Owners and Managers

Finding a qualified and trustworthy tenant can be a daunting experience. Tenant screening can improve your chances of putting the right renter in your property. Owning a rental property can be a great way to invest your earnings but it can also create an enormous amount of stress. If you don’t find the right tenant, your investment can become a nightmare. Regardless if you’re renting a single family home, or managing a large apartment complex, you want to make sure you are making a responsible and informed decision before the rental application is signed.

Tenant Nightmares

We’ve all heard the horror stories about property rentals. From the tenant who won’t pay the rent to the tenant who destroys the property, property rental can be a scary and frustrating experience.

The Indy Star recently reported on a Cherise Lee, who has been deemed “Indy’s worst renter”. According to the report, Lee has a minimum of 24 eviction lawsuits against her since 2001. Several cases have been decided in small claims courts, but few landlords have received payment on the judgements.

Lee targeted amateur property renters using false references and bad checks. Tenant screening may have saved these property owners thousands of dollars in unpaid rent as well as the headache involved in dealing with a nightmarish tenant.

In Wisconsin, the Quilling family began to suspect that their tenant was involved in criminal activity when the man renting a room from them began receiving mail under several different names. After some amateur sleuthing, Jess Quilling found a wanted poster for Shawn Anderson of Alexandria, Indiana. Anderson was wanted on a felony charge of child molestation and incest.

Protecting Your Investment with Tenant Screening

Tenant screening is one of the best ways to protect your investment. As a property owner, you can be held liable for the actions of your tenant. You can also lose thousands of dollars in unpaid rent, damaged property or lawsuits associated with the criminal actions of your tenant. Tenant screening allows you the ability to professionally check a variety of factors in the prospective renter’s financial history as well as check for criminal charges. It is your responsibility not only for your own protection, but for the protection of those who live in the area of your rental property.

Don’t trust your tenant screening to a simple google search, though. Using a professional background check company like Sentinel Background Checks, can give you the peace of mind that you are choosing a qualified and responsible renter.

For the most complete tenant screening, SB Checks suggests the following screening options:

Person Search – Social Security Trace.  There is a misconception that this search is equivalent to an I9 Verification. In actuality, this search is used to find any additional names or addresses for the applicant that they failed to report on the application.

County and/or Statewide Criminal Record Search. It is up to the property owner or manager to determine if both a county or statewide search criminal record search should be done. Please remember though, if you perform only a county search, you may not be getting all of the facts. This search provides criminal records based on the previous seven years.

Nationwide Criminal Database Search. The nationwide criminal database search is a multi-jurisdictional search tool of aggregate criminal databases that includes millions of records from state repositories, administrative office of the courts, department of corrections and sex offender registries. Database access, coverage and update frequency varies by state.     

National Sex Offender Database Search.  This is probably one of the most important tenant screening services available. If you put a registered sex offender into a property near a school or in an area with many children, you can be liable if the sex offender harms a child while living in the rental property. You will also likely make a lot of enemies from families who are placed in this dangerous position.

Eviction Check. It is easy for tenants to make up references. Friends will lie and say that they rented from them or they may fail to disclose a rental that they were evicted from. An eviction check would have been a useful tool for the landlords in Indiana who rented to Cherise Lee.

Consumer Credit Report.  The credit report is important in determining the likelihood that your tenant will actually pay their rent on time. A tenant with a high amount of debt may not be the best choice when you are counting on timely payments.

Tenant Scorecard. Tenant scorecards combine the applicant’s credit score and credit report history. The history takes into account liens, delinquencies, bankruptcies, judgements and income to debt ratio and then assigns a pass or fail rating based on your preferences.


Remember, for every bad tenant, there is a responsible tenant who will pay on time and take good care of your property. The right tenant can allow you peace of mind while increasing your equity in your property. Tenant screening can eliminate the guesswork and help you find a qualified candidate.

The experts at SB Checks can help with the tenant screening process. Call 888-725-2535 today to property protect your investment.