Evictions are major red flags on your tenant's credit and background reports, but they don't always appear on these reports. Most rental applications ask tenants about previous evictions, but it's rare for a previously evicted tenant to admit this information willingly. An eviction on record makes it more difficult to receive a rental application approval, so many tenants avoid disclosing this information upfront. You rely on your tenant reports to tell you whether there has been a previous eviction, but you should know why eviction records may fail to appear on a report.
You Only Pulled One Report
If you only pull a single credit report, or you fail to look at a background check alongside the credit report, you may not get the full picture of your prospective tenant. Credit reporting accuracy is not always 100 percent. Credit reporting bureaus look at different information sources, and some bureaus may access and report information quicker than others. The nature of the eviction ruling also dictates whether it shows up on your tenant's credit report at all.
If the previous landlord filed for an order of possession, but was not seeking any monetary damages associated with the eviction suit, this record will not appear on the credit report. If there's a monetary judgment, it appears in the public record section of the report. A background check would have information on an eviction case without a monetary judgment. However, court clerks in smaller jurisdictions may not have the resources on hand to post the public record quickly. If the court doesn't get around to handling the paperwork or it slips through the cracks, you would have to physically go to the courthouse to find eviction proof.
It takes time for a public record or a judgment to get recorded and sent to credit reporting bureaus and other reporting agencies. In this time span, the tenant may try to get a rental prior to the eviction showing up on reports. This time span could be over the course of a few months, depending on the speed of the specific courthouse, which leaves plenty of time for the tenant to find another place to live without this eviction red flag popping up. If a tenant has a significant gap in landlord references without a reasonable explanation, or the explanation seems implausible, it could be a red flag indicating a hidden eviction.
You won't see a tenant's eviction if he gives you falsified information, such as an incorrect Social Security Number stolen from someone else, or if he uses a family member's SSN. One way to mitigate the risk of a falsified identity is to double check information for anything that's out of place. Does the address on the tenant's photo ID match previous address records on his credit report? Are the birth dates indicated on reports mismatched to other identification provided? Information discrepancies could indicate identity theft or accuracy errors from the credit reporting bureau.
Not all tenants with eviction records end up being bad tenants, but you want the choice to make that decision for yourself. Evictions don't always show up on all tenant reports for several reasons, so understanding these circumstances can help you look deeper into a tenant's history and make an educated decision.
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