Last week I saw a sign on the front door of my gym that said, “If you do not check-in on Facebook, were you ever really here?” Not only was it a clever marketing approach to guilt gym-goers into checking in, thus promoting the facility to each individual’s hundreds of Facebook friends, but it also got me thinking.
If I do not take a picture of the meal I cooked did I ever really eat it? If I do not take a “selfie” in my new outfit did I ever really wear it?
So far gone are the days when social media just meant posting pictures of your family and friends, or a quick update on where you might be going Friday night. You could now almost follow a person’s day-to-day life from the moment they wake up, to the second they go to bed; everything from what they ate, who they hung out with, where they work, even how much money they made.
So how can you use this over-indulgence of information to your advantage?

Social Media is a Great Supplement to Your Current Tenant Screening Process

While social media outlets are great for growing your business, they can also be extremely helpful to aid you in keeping out negligent tenants – the key is to be careful and only use it for the right reasons. Sites like Facebook and Twitter can be telling of how frequently they throw parties, if they have unapproved or unaccounted for pets, and even how they have treated properties in the past.
“I am flabbergasted at what information, pictures and behavior some people post for the world to see,” a writer for www.theLPA.com said. “I’ve even seen pictures of people wrecking their landlord’s house! I am glad we have another source to check.”
However helpful social sites may be, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind:

  • You may be accused of violating a tenant’s privacy if they found out you conducted a little social media research. But if their accounts are public, that information is fair game.
  • Make sure if you do it for one tenant, you do it for all.
  • Once you learn something about another person, you cannot unlearn it. You may disagree with a person’s political, religious, or life decisions, but that has nothing to do with whether or not that individual is a good renter. Think long and hard about whether or not you will be affected by this information.
  • Make sure your methods for selecting tenants are fair, nondiscriminatory, well documented and applied uniformly to protect yourself from fair housing complaints.

Taking the precautionary measures to make sure your property is being rented out to a responsible and reliable individual is never a bad idea. Just make sure you operate in an ethical manner.
Do you use social media when screening rental applicants? Share your stories or comments below!

Photo credit: kdonovangaddy

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