Renting out rooms and dealing with troublesome tenants can be a hassle. However, it becomes a much larger headache if a crime is committed in or around your property. To ensure you never have to deal with the legal mess of criminal activity, it’s important to take precautions before renting out your space to new tenants.

The Application Process

If you recall when we strategized methods for setting up a digital room for home security, we concluded that investing in cyber safeguards was worth the time, effort, and money when compared to the possible ramifications of identity theft. In the same way, when you are interviewing potential tenants, it is vital that you consider who it is you will be allowing into your building or your community.
It is your duty as a citizen, neighbor, and landlord to find tenants who will not put the community at risk of harm. That starts with the application process. To thwart potential criminals from renting your space, consider taking the following steps during your application process.

Search for High-Quality Tenants with Your Online Rental Listing

Since it is your property, you can be selective about who you allow to rent your place out. You have the final say as long as you are not discriminating based on race, nationality, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. You are within your right to include in your rental description “No college students,” or “Looking for young professionals,” or “Must show proof of income and job status.” By setting some requirements, you will automatically filter out some possible criminals.

Meet Prospective Tenants in Person

By handling this yourself, you get an initial opportunity to see if they pass the eye test. Similar to our interviewing cleaning services article, this is a chance to ask questions and gauge who they are as a person. Although this is not a foolproof prevention model, you should be able to trust your gut and get a good feeling about someone’s trustworthiness in mere minutes. If you do rent to them and something bad ends up happening in your property, you can legally prove that you took steps to prevent crime from occurring.

Have Them Fill Out a Detailed Rental Application

Have your potential tenants fill out detailed rental applications. Such applications provide you with plenty of screening information that you can verify with the proper services. Although it might take longer, this process is another screening method that will inevitably filter out potential criminals who have no means of authenticating income or past work.

Require Tenants Agree to a Credit Report and Criminal Background Check

These prior steps will sift out many, but not all potential criminals. Even if a person seems great up front, a background check during the application process may reveal a criminal hit on their record. A SmartMove criminal report will give you a thorough look into the potential tenant’s employment, criminal history, and credit. If they have issues with any of these categories, it might be wise to consider renting to someone else.

Include an Eviction Clause for Drug Dealing

It is essential that you have an explicit clause in your rental agreement which grants you the option of evicting the tenant if they are creating or dealing drugs on the property or committing other related crimes. If you catch a tenant violating this clause, do not give them a second chance—evict them and involve the authorities if necessary.

Refuse Cash Payments

Since many criminals deal exclusively in cash, it would be wise to avoid allowing a tenant to pay in cash. Although it may be nice for tax purposes, if it comes out that you were accepting cash payment from a criminal, you could be held partially liable for knowingly aiding their illicit actions.
Once the agreement is signed, it is smart for you to stay involved and keep an eye on things. Speak with neighbors and drop by on occasion (with 24-hour notice, of course). If you are suspicious, perhaps invest in an outdoor nest cam or other type of security system in entryways to the apartment building so that you can monitor comings and goings. For landlords that witness or hear of crime occurring, do not hesitate to reach out to authorities to see what other steps you can take to help prevent it. By taking these wise steps, you protect yourself and your community from the perils of illegal activity.

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