A very common question we hear at RentPrep is should landlords get a background check on the tenants spouse?
The best answer: YES
And while you’re at it, order a background check on any co-applicant as well.
There have been several cases where a landlord will decide to do a background report on just the main applicant applying for an apartment, and then they come back to us saying something just doesn’t feel right.
They screen the spouse/co-applicant, and then we find evictions, judgments, criminal records, etc.
If you don’t ask, they won’t tell
When applying for an apartment, these applicants know their history, and know what is going to show.
In the case of spouses, they will try to keep records against them limited to one person. They will list only the husband’s name on a lease, or open up all of their credit cards under the husband’s name.
They do this so the eviction, or the judgments filed, won’t affect both of their credit. Then when they come to you looking for a place to live, they apply under the wife’s name. When you order the background screening report, it will seem like they pass with flying colors.
No tenant judgments, evictions, liens, when in fact they are swimming in a sea of debt all filed under the husband’s name.
In other cases, one of the applicants has a criminal record that they are trying to keep hidden from you, the landlord. Why admit to committing a felony, when they don’t have to. They know their chances of getting the apartment with their record, and want you to only run one report on the main applicant
The bottom line..
You can never be too careful, and running a background report on all potential applicants is a way to protect yourself from not knowing. Our Character Report can also be useful, as we will speak to current/previous landlords and the employer.
FCRA Screener Lauren says: You want to be confident in who you rent to, and you want to know that the rent will be paid and that you are renting to trustworthy people. Run a background check on every applicant, in the end it will save you time and money.