Get Smart: Trust Your Judgment – Being A Landlord Today

Written by: David Wilkening

Let me put it this way so there is no misunderstanding: if you suspect your tenants are criminals among the FBI’s “most wanted,” hire one of those services to check them out. Otherwise, forget it.

Oops. I don’t really mean “forget it,” because you can’t but should you as a landlord hire an outside service provider to check out your potential tenants?

This came up when a provider called SmartMove offered me the chance to ”make smarter leasing decisions.”

I will readily admit the biggest worry of any landlord is being sure to get your rent. Nothing else makes for more sleepless nights than the thought that your income will not be coming and this all escalates when a landlord can’t then pay his own holding costs, etc.

So it’s understandable that landlords want some sort of guarantee of getting paid. So do you lease to the gentleman wearing a three-piece suit or the guy with name “Buddy”” on his shirt?

Tenant verification services say they take the guesswork out of how they look by:

—Investigating credit scores.

—Checking criminal records.

Some of these services promise no hidden fees and are as cheap as $20.

However, I would be dubious that the cost (even with computers) will really be that low.

But whatever the price, isn’t it worth it for peace of mind?

Some of these services claim they benefit both landlord and tenants. Why? Tenants don’t have to worry about their credit score while landlords get reduced paperwork and a far shorter approval process.

Most programs seem to offer instant information on whether would-be tenants are good bill-payers (at least in the past) but also promise to customize leasing and deposit recommendations based on what they find.

So what’s not to like about this type of service?

Nothing, actually. It probably works to weed out poor credit risks (at least by past performance).

In addition, if someone is really wanted by the FBI, you probably can’t expect much in long-term guaranteed rents (the FBI’s record in capturing the “most wanted” is generally very high). But the real question here is whether you need the service.

You can check would-be tenants yourself via computer. And remember what it was like to use some of your own judgment, BC (Before Computers)?

Remember that in the more ancient world (before there were computers to check credit, I mean), there were still security deposits and first and last month’s rent, payable at the time of the lease. And you, presumably the landlord, had to use something known as judgment (sorry to repeat it but no other word really applies), which includes such information as “custom” deposits.

No, that’s no guarantee your tenants won’t simply stop paying but there’s also no guarantee they also won’t lose their jobs or get a promotion prompting them to quickly leave town (you can always ask for your credit provider to pay the rent but needless to say, they are not likely to comply).



Get Smart: Trust Your Judgment – Being A...

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