Landlords may screen potential tenants for evictions through background searches, credit reports and past landlord references. Landlords may also purchase tenant screening reports, and some states allow landlords to charge application fees to cover the screening costs. Landlords should require all prospective tenants to complete the same application, including questions about past evictions, and request the contact names and phone numbers of past landlords.
The landlord needs to get written consent to run or purchase credit reports and contact references, which can be part of the application or signed as a separate permission form. To run credit reports, the landlord needs the applicant's name, Social Security number, date of birth and addresses for the preceding two years. Credit reports typically include data for the past seven years or more. Additionally, the landlord may check county court records where the applicant previously lived, as eviction rulings are public records.
Contacting former landlords can reveal eviction details and outcomes that should corroborate the prospective tenant's answers on the application. The landlord should interview the applicant after reviewing collected information to give him a chance to explain the eviction reports. Questions about possible evictions should be direct, and the landlord should let the applicant know when to expect a decision.