What Is a Tenant Criminal Background Check? A Guide for South Jersey Landlords

What Is a Tenant Criminal Background Check? A Guide for South Jersey Landlords

Here's some landlord advice you should always follow: Always screen tenants for relevant criminal history. A good enough reason is that 77 million Americans, or one in three adults, have a criminal history.

If you don't, you might rent out to someone who can endanger your property, other tenants, and neighbors.

But what exactly is a tenant criminal background check, and what does it reveal? How do you even conduct one?

We've explained the basics in this guide, so read on.

What Is a Tenant Criminal Background Check?

A tenant criminal background check investigates a person's criminal history. It can reveal if an individual committed federal, state, or county criminal offenses.

Depending on the screening methods or platforms you use, a criminal history check may reveal if the subject is:

  • In the FBI's Most Wanted list
  • A registered sex offender
  • Has a criminal record with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
  • Someone with a history of any crime, whether minor or severe

However, as informative as a tenant criminal history check is, it's only one of the tenant screening steps you, as a South Jersey landlord, must do. You must verify each applicant's employment, credit, rental, and eviction histories.

How Do the Results Benefit You?

Using the statistic above, you can assume at least one in every three prospective tenants has a criminal record or history. However, the likelihood is even higher in New Jersey, where the arrest rate is higher than the U.S. average.

That makes it all the more crucial to perform thorough tenant screening.

You can then use the results to determine a person's suitability to become your tenant. For example, you should be wary of applicants with multiple property, drug-related, and violent criminal records.

However, remember that not all criminal activities may be relevant. For example, those that are minor, non-violent, and were the first and last crime committed.

How Do You Conduct Criminal Checks?

First, obtain your prospective tenants' written consent. This is their right and is also a federal law.

Once you have their permission, you can use a screening service to run the checks. You can also request the NJ Division of State Police Criminal Information Unit for help. They provide fingerprint-based criminal record checks for NJ residents.

Alternatively, you can partner with a full-service property management company. They provide comprehensive tenant screening services that check for criminal backgrounds and:

  • Credit histories
  • Rental histories
  • Eviction histories
  • Employment histories
  • Landlord references

So, if you want the simplest yet most efficient way to find qualified tenants, hire a property manager.

Know Who You Rent Out To

A tenant criminal background check lets you determine a prospective tenant's trustworthiness. That makes it vital to keeping your South Jersey rental property, other tenants, and neighbors safe.

Our team here at SoJay Property Management delivers comprehensive tenant screening services. We are a locally owned and run full-service property management company. However, we are also part of PMI, a larger franchise that's been making property management manageable for 20 years and manages over $5 billion of assets.

So, speak with us today! We'll happily discuss how our property management services can benefit you.