Picking responsible tenants is key in keeping your real estate business afloat. But be aware, it takes some sleuth work to get a complete picture of your prospective tenant’s lifestyle and financial responsibility.
It is also important to note that according to the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA), landlords are allowed to collect personal information on tenants without consent from publicly available sources; however these sources are defined in PIPA and are very narrow. They include professional business directories, newspapers and magazines, but they DO NOT include social media. That said, many landlords use social media to glean more information as a way to verify what they’ve been told. The point to take home here, is not to tell an applicant you didn’t choose them because of something you saw on Facebook or an article you read online about them.
Here is some background checking you should be doing for every applicant and while you’re at it, you can also search their references to make sure they are legitimate.
- Google their name. Got to www.google.ca and enter the prospective tenant’s name in quotation marks like this: “Jane Smith” and see what comes up. If it’s a common name, you might have to add the city: “Jane Smith” Kelowna. If they are under 50, they’ll likely have a LinkedIn account that you can use to verify some employment information. Many social media users will also have a Pinterest account that you can use to gain an idea of their interests.
- Check them out on Facebook. Nearly everyone, except for perhaps some older folks, have a Facebook account. Many people do not have their privacy settings very high allowing you to view their photos, their timeline, their page likes, comments and so on. Ask yourself, are they the type of individual you would want to rent to?
- Criminal search. Check the Court Services Online, British Columbia’s electronic court registry. Do a search for the applicant’s name. This will tell you if they have been charged with a criminal offense such as an assault, robbery, possessing a weapon, and so on. Here is the link to the Court Services Online: https://justice.gov.bc.ca/cso/
- The drive-by. Get the address of where they currently live and do a drive-by. What are your first impressions? Is the yard neat or is it a mess? Are there oil leaks? Garbage piling up? You get the picture.
- The vehicle check. After the rental showing, walk them to their vehicle. I know this sounds strange, but it has been said that the inside of one’s vehicle can indicate how they keep a home.
You may also be interested in the post on 9 Sure Fire Ways To Avoid Nightmare Tenants