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Renting Your Home or Apartment? Get a Background Check!

Posted On   date28/03/2014

Renting Your Home or Apartment? Get a Background Check!

As illustrated in the recent story of a comedian who had rented his apartment, only to come home to find a wild sex party, it’s important to know who you’re renting your house or apartment to.  Ari Teman rented his apartment through Airbnb website to a man who claimed to need a place for his in-laws to stay for the weekend. Since he was going out of town he decided to rent it, just to come back home and find an overweight orgy going on and his apartment turned into a complete disaster.

Besides the mess and the losses, the situation has had further serious consequences for him, like the fact that the building is considering an eviction.  There is one important thing in which we would like to focus. Teman stated that the tenant had a verified account, had three positive reviews and this was enough information to think everything was legit. This takes us to analyze why background checks investigations are so important for any deal that you´re getting into, even if it´s renting your home for a couple of days.

The following are some of the things to consider before renting to a stranger.

  1. It is necessary to emphasize that the Internet is the fastest growing platform for criminals. Every day, people fall victim to online romance scams, Craigslist scams and many other different schemes, and the general assumption like in Teman´s case is that everything seemed legit. But the Internet has a particular quality: it protects anonymity. So anyone can create many different identities online. People create fake personal profiles or fake company websites in a blink of an eye. Airbnb and many other web portals like dating sites try to fight scammers, but they have no way to verify all their users.
  2. Never trust the profile, never trust the review. Whenever you´re dealing with a stranger, get a background check or professional help to make sure this person is who he or she claims to be, that there are no criminal history or financial problems you should know about, and that the deal you’re considering is legitimate.  Attractive offers can often be scams.
  3. Google is not an investigator. Many people “do their homework” and go further than believing the profile, but an Internet search is not enough. If what you´re doing is opening your home to a complete stranger, don´t you think you might want to get to know this person better than what a search engine can say? Public records online are very limited, and they don’t produce valuable evidence.  What you really need to know is who is the person  you are going to rent to, what is his or her background, are they safe, and can they pay?  Hoping for the best can be a costly learning lesson.  Renters from a foreign country often have a higher risk, and should be verified.
  4. Most of the times a background check requires a local investigator to verify records manually and make sure everything is covered. Professional experience is necessary to uncover fraud, especially if the subject is an experienced criminal. What you can do online is get informed about scams and fraud, but leave the investigating to trained investigators. Be sure to use the Internet wisely, but reading about the warning signs and tips, including some on how to rent your home without being robbed.
  5. Think about what you have to lose. There are no “nothing to lose” deals. Teman had all his belongings to lose, and more important than that, a way of living he was used to and that he may have to give up now because he´s being evicted. Maybe he lived close to work, or really liked his neighbors, or had a view from his apartment that he loved. Who knows? The fact is that there is always something more important to lose than the broken lamps or the $20 you lost to a fraud transaction online. For instance, you could be victim of identity theft. Romance scammers are now blackmailing people with the information they get from an online conversation, so you could also lose your privacy and peace of mind. A bad rental deal has worse consequences than you might imagine.

Trained investigators can verify any offers you might have, screen the candidates, verify documents and passports, and investigate the subject’s background to determine if the potential renter is legitimate, and if he or she is financially responsible.  Get the facts before you give out your house keys!

Be careful about who you let into your property, and get them verified.

C. Wright
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