A Guide to Conducting a Legal Tenant Criminal Background Check in Phoenix, AZ

A Guide to Conducting a Legal Tenant Criminal Background Check in Phoenix, AZ

Did you know that on average 90% of tenants are good and only 10% might be considered bad renters? Although 10% doesn't sound like a high percentage, these tenants can cause absolute chaos for property owners and investors.

The small cost of running a tenant criminal background check is worth it for landlords who want to avoid bad tenants.

However, if you want to successfully screen tenants, you need to know what is legal and how to develop screening criteria. Keep reading to learn more.

Know the Laws in Phoenix, Arizona

In Arizona, tenant criminal background check laws determine fees and legal procedures.

Landlords can charge an application fee when the tenant turns in their completed application. Arizona puts no limits on what landlords can charge for this fee. For tenants, these fees are non-refundable.

A landlord can return or waive the application fee if they choose to.

It's important to separate the application fee from the security deposit, the two are not the same. The security deposit is paid after the landlord offers a tenant a lease.

Get a Signed Consent Form

Some landlords believe that they can run background checks for tenants without their consent, but this is not the case. If you don't have a signed consent form from the applicant, you can't use tenant screening services.

Make sure your rental application has a section requesting signed consent to run a background check on the tenant. If you don't currently have one, make changes before your next vacancy arises.

A property management company can help you create a consent section on your leasing agreements that abide by the law.

Write a List of Screening Criteria

The best landlord advice we can provide to stay compliant during the tenant screening process is to write a list of screening criteria. Ensuring that you screen all renters with the same criteria is important to follow the law.

Your screening criteria might include the following:

  • Only dogs up to a certain weight
  • No smoking
  • Income has to exceed three times the monthly rent
  • No past evictions
  • No criminal convictions

Your criteria cannot discriminate according to the Fair Housing Act. Staying consistent when screening tenants can prevent you from getting in trouble.

Choose the Best Screening Service

Before you can run background checks on tenants, you need to choose a reliable service. Make sure the company offers:

  • Bankruptcy search
  • Prior address history
  • Eviction history
  • Judgements and liens

The screening service should handle all of the hard work when it comes to digging up an applicant's past.

Always Run a Tenant Criminal Background Check

Every Phoenix, Arizona landlord should run a tenant criminal criminal background check on all applicants. Doing so can help you mitigate the risk of renting to bad tenants and negatively impacting your stream of rental income.

PMI Real Estate Services in Phoenix can help you legally screen your tenants and add a provision in your leasing application if you don't already have one.

Our full-service property management company is dedicated to helping owners like you. Contact us today to learn more about our services.