Tenant Background Check
To obtain a comprehensive tenant background check on a prospective tenant or resident, it may be advisable to perform a county courthouse search in addition to a broad database search. There are many firms selling consumer information which have been derived from databases. Databases have evolved to become great resources for criminal court records, improving turnaround times and significantly reducing screening expenses. However, databases have a reputation for being outdated and incomplete.
Where Criminal Records are Found
There are more than 3,300 counties in the United States that maintain felony and misdemeanor records for crimes. In addition, there are 92 federal districts nationwide that house criminal records of crimes against the U.S. government. In all, there are more than 10,000 county, state and federal courthouses in the United States. With so many jurisdictions housing criminal information, the multi-state criminal database search is a good place to start. The multi-state search may provide information that would not be found if the record existed in a county that was not known to the property manager or community homeowner association reviewing the prospective tenant. For example, even when you have a person’s county of residence, a crime may have been committed in another county or state.
Despite what some may think there is no one source for obtaining criminal records. Even the FBI database is dependent on counties reporting criminal records to state data bases. Research has indicated 30% or more of county criminal records are never reported to the state criminal record repositories in a timely manner or at all.
Criminal Record Database Search
Criminal database searches can be used as one component of a comprehensive tenant background check for a prospective tenant or resident, in order to gain a broad overview of the applicant’s past criminal activity. Based on the criminal database results, along with address verification results, the county criminal history provides the most accurate information you can obtain, contingent upon knowing which county to search.
Ordering a County Courthouse Search
When a search is ordered for a particular county, a court researcher goes to the county courthouse to conduct a manual search of the records of the clerk of the court. The county courthouse search contains the most detailed, accurate, and up to date criminal information and will provide a minimum of 7 years of criminal history. By hand-searching records directly at the courthouse, researchers can ensure that the property manager or community homeowner association is provided the most accurate information possible making for a comprehensive tenant background check.
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