When you make a commitment to allow a stranger to use your investment it is worthwhile to find out how they are going to be a major drain on your time, resources, or the value of your property. A tenant with a habit of not paying rent on time will not suddenly start paying when they move into your building. Tenants with criminal records can cause other, stronger tenants to avoid your building or your neighborhood.
I’ve been background checking tenants for years now, and much of that time was spent working for a company that wanted to spend as little as possible in the process. Fortunately, Chicago residents have some relatively easy routes available to them for checking on a tenant’s history. This method can be time consuming, but if you’re willing to risk your investment on a stranger it is definitely worth the time.
There are many companies out there that offer background checks for a fee. However, I’ve found that their checks are not adequate, especially in the rental history verification area. You owe it to yourself to do your own research, especially when it’s so easy to do so.
First of all, you will need the tenant’s credit report in order to do this the right way. You do not need a score, though. All you need are the actual accounts, and a summary of their payment info. Therefore, you can ask your tenant applicant to provide you with a copy of their credit report, which they can obtain for free from annualcreditreport.com (and nowhere else). It doesn’t matter if they provide you with their Transunion, Equifax or Experian report. Got it? Great. Let’s get started.