Ensuring that your rental property is well-maintained and up to code is crucial. One important aspect of maintaining your rental property is conducting renewal screening checks.
These checks help identify any potential issues with your tenants and ensure they are still suitable to rent from you. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of renewal screening checks and provide tips on effectively conducting them.
What are Renewal Screening Checks?
A renewal screening check is a process that landlords undertake to assess whether their existing tenants are still suitable to continue renting their property. These checks are typically conducted when a lease is up for renewal, and they are designed to help landlords identify any potential issues that may have arisen during the tenancy.
Types of Renewal Screening Checks
Landlords may choose to conduct several types of renewal screenings. Here are some of the most common ones:
- Criminal Background Checks: This helps landlords identify tenants who may be a risk to the safety of other tenants or the property.
- Credit Checks: Credit checks assess a tenant’s financial history. They can help landlords determine whether a tenant is likely to pay rent on time and has a history of financial irresponsibility.
- Employment Verification: These are used to confirm a tenant’s employment status and income. They can help landlords to ensure that a tenant has the means to pay rent.
- Reference Checks: Reference checks involve contacting a tenant’s previous landlords or other references to gather information about the tenant’s rental history, behavior, and reliability.
Landlords must be aware of various legal considerations when conducting renewal screening checks to ensure they comply with Idaho state and federal laws. Here are some important legal considerations that landlords should keep in mind:
Compliance with Federal and State Laws
Landlords must adhere to privacy, anti-discrimination, and tenant rights regulations. For example, some states have specific laws governing landlords’ use of criminal background checks or credit reports in their screening process.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The FCRA is a federal law that regulates how consumer reporting agencies can use and share credit information. When landlords use credit reports as part of their renewal screening process, they must comply with FCRA’s regulations, which include obtaining written consent from tenants and providing them with certain disclosures.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Landlords must comply with EEOC guidelines when conducting renewal screening checks. This includes ensuring they don’t discriminate against tenants based on race, gender, age, or other protected characteristics.
Ban the Box Legislation
Ban the Box is a movement to remove questions about criminal history from job and housing applications. Some states have implemented Ban the Box laws that restrict landlords from asking about a tenant’s criminal history until later in the screening process.
Implementation of Renewal Screening Checks
Landlords should follow a structured process to ensure that they conduct a fair and thorough screening process. Here are the steps landlords should take to implement renewal screening checks:
Communication with Tenants
Landlords should communicate with their tenants about the purpose and process of renewal screening checks. This includes explaining why the screening is necessary, what types of checks will be conducted, and how the results will be used.
Establishing Clear Policies
Landlords should establish clear policies and procedures for conducting renewal screening checks. Landlords should also ensure their policies and procedures comply with relevant laws and regulations.
Choosing a Screening Provider
Landlords should choose a screening provider that is reliable, efficient, and compliant with relevant laws and regulations. The screening provider should also provide clear reports, and information landlords can use to make informed decisions.
Obtaining the Tenant’s Consent
Landlords must obtain written consent from tenants before conducting renewal screening checks along with any other relevant information about how it will be carried out.
Handling Adverse Findings
If adverse findings are discovered during the screening process, landlords should follow established procedures for addressing them. This may include contacting the tenant to discuss the findings, taking appropriate action to address any safety or financial risks, or terminating the tenancy by following relevant laws and regulations.
Benefits of Renewal Screening Checks
Here are some of the key benefits of conducting renewal screening checks:
Protecting Assets and Reputation
Renewal screening checks can help landlords protect their assets and reputation by identifying potential risks before they become problematic. By conducting thorough background checks, landlords can ensure that their tenants are reliable, trustworthy, and have a history of paying rent on time.
Mitigating Potential Risks
Renewal screening checks can also help landlords identify potential risks associated with tenants. This includes conducting criminal background checks, credit checks, and employment verification to identify potential issues that could impact the tenancy. By identifying risks early on, landlords can take steps to mitigate them and ensure that the tenancy runs smoothly.
Maintaining a Safe Property
Renewal screening checks can help maintain a safe environment by identifying potential safety risks associated with tenants.
Improving Tenant Retention and Morale
Renewal screening checks can also improve tenant retention and morale by creating a safer and more stable living environment. When tenants know that their landlords are conducting thorough screening checks, they are more likely to feel secure in their tenancy and have greater confidence in their landlord’s ability to maintain a safe and stable living environment.
Conducting renewal screening checks is important for landlords to maintain a safe and secure living environment for tenants while protecting their assets and reputation. By following legal considerations, implementing clear policies and procedures, and working with reliable screening providers, landlords can conduct thorough screening checks that mitigate potential risks.
At Realty Management Associates, Inc., our team is experienced in implementing screening policies and procedures that comply with relevant laws and regulations. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive accurate and timely information. If you’re a landlord looking for a reliable property management company, contact us today to learn more about our services!