The Ins and Outs of Criminal Background Checks


The Ins and Outs of Criminal Background Checks

As a matter of company policy, we run a criminal background check on all applicants.  Once we have done due diligence on an applicant, we ask they either provide a criminal background check or pay for one through our website, so we can include this in our decision making.  What type of criminal activity would raise a red flag and give us cause for concern?

  • Violent Crime – If they may pose a physical risk to other residents.
  • Robbery – If they pose a financial risk to other residents.
  • Megan’s Law – If they pose a risk to children.
  • Check Kiting – If they have stolen from other vendors.
  • Drug Dealing – If they pose a risk to the community.

The housing department has been weighing in on across the board denial for an applicant having a criminal history and has issued some guidelines for including criminal history as a basis for your decision making.

  • The crime must be within the last 6 years. If a crime has been committed later than 6 years, it must not carry any weight.
  • The type of crime must be considered. If the crime is trivial in nature or not germane to leasing your unit (drunk driving) and you must allow individuals to present mitigating behavior since the conviction.
  • The denial must be consistent. You must apply the same standards to all applicants.
  • The denial must consider the nature and severity of conduct. It must indicate a risk to other resident’s safety.

Make certain you do the criminal background check after applicants have passed financial and other screening.  Be consistent and fair to all your applicants and try to weigh the all of the evidence.  Here is an outstanding fact: over 70 million Americans, one in three adults has a criminal record so the chances are, you will have an applicant with one.