Tenant Screening Roommates

Tenant Screening Spotlight: Roommates

Your tenant, Steve, just got his hours cut at work. To help make rent he’s invited his friend Bob to stay in the spare room.

Another tenant, Julie, has opened her door to her sister Dana, who’s going through a divorce.

Molly and Tim are very much in love. They’re moving in.

Do Bob, Dana, and Tim belong on the lease? And should they be subject to a tenant credit and criminal background check?

Yes, yes, yes.

This is as much for your tenants’ protection as it is for yours, of course. Love is blind, friends are forgiving, and the chance to share bills is often all a tenant considers when choosing a roommate. But your financial and property concerns are paramount, and your tenants should never take on a roommate lightly.

We’re not talking about the potential for sleepless nights and dirty dishes, either. Tenants on the lease are jointly and separately responsible for upholding the agreement — if Tim decides to move to Oregon next week, Molly is still liable for his share of the rent. Only when every permanent resident is on the lease do you retain the legal and financial authority necessary to protect your business.

Friends who crash on the couch for a few weeks don’t matter much, of course. But if you suddenly find yourself with a new tenant, sit down with the current leaseholder and explain the situation. Run a tenant credit and criminal background check, just as you would when filling an empty apartment.

You can testify to your tenant’s good judgment, of course, so chances are things will be fine. But a comprehensive tenant screening including a criminal background check means peace of mind.

And that means everything.


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