Application Process: The Criminal Background Check

Why Run a Criminal Background Check At All?

In searching for the tenant who will occupy your rental property, you have a right to know whether or not that tenant will be a danger to you, your tenants, or your property. While there is no way to be certain of the future, your prospective tenant’s past may provide some insight into their habits. A criminal history does not define a person; however, it is important to take your financial risk into consideration.

How Do I Run a Criminal History Report?

You will not need to gather this information yourself! There are plenty of companies that bundle criminal background checks with credit reports and eviction histories. These paid services make this task as simple as it is necessary. Some state laws allow the landlord to charge a prospective tenant for the cost of ordering a credit or background check. In any case, make sure the application plainly states that a background check, criminal history report, or credit check will be ordered if appropriate and that the prospective tenant is granting authorization for a check into his or her financial, employment, and personal history.

Who Should I Run a Background Check On?

Everyone. Every applicant (18 years of age or older) must be submitted to the exact same screening process. Regardless of if you “have a feeling” about a person, if you require a background check of one applicant, then every applicant must also be held to the same standard. This will keep you in compliance with the Fair Housing Act.

What Do I Look for in the Report?


A key red flag to be on the lookout for is prior evictions. An eviction within the last five to seven years could be an indicator of a tenant’s inability to pay rent. Multiple evictions raise an even bigger red flag – you will not want to risk being another landlord in a string of unpaid landlords. If the eviction is two or more years in the past, a frank conversation with your applicant (and their previous landlord) may help you better understand the circumstances under which they were evicted. 

Criminal Convictions

Applicants with felony or misdemeanor criminal convictions, those serving deferred adjudication (either felony or misdemeanor) or who have pending cases for:

  • Violence
  • Sexual Offenses
  • Theft
  • Injury to persons, or
  • Damage to property

– or attempted felony or misdemeanor offenses related to the above – will be screened out of your applicant pool. Some landlords take part in “second chance” renting, in which case the above results are not an immediate disqualification and you may take the circumstances, frequency and date of the conviction into consideration. However, you are obligated to provide the safest and most secure environment possible for any other tenants you rent to, as well as the neighbors of your properties.

Be the most informed landlord you can be by obtaining and interpreting a criminal background check!

You will not know what you do not ask for. Securing a tenant with a reasonably clear criminal and eviction history increases your odds that you will have steady rent payments and few (if any) issues from neighbors or other tenants!

A Property Management company with a Tenant Coordination Department – such as Frontline Property Management, Inc. – has years of experience running these reports. Our standards are the same for all applicants and our methods take the pressure off you to decide what is and isn’t acceptable from an applicant. Working with Frontline means that you will not be ensnared by a direct plea from an applicant who has a lengthy history of criminal behavior or is a high risk for eviction. We have implemented a very accessible online application with clearly stated qualifying criteria. Our suite of services include lease-writing once your application pool has been screened and your next tenant selected. Our streamlined process and the diligent work of our Property Managers and Tenant Coordinators works every day to serve your needs!

Find out more about how Frontline Property Management, Inc. can save you time and effort in every step of the process!

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