Rental Research Services wants to help with whatever questions you have about resident screening.  The techniques we provide in our Learning Center are to help inform you of best practices in resident screening.  In this article, we focus on the importance of seeing identification!

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is this one – “How can we protect our property and/or our company from applicant identity fraud? How can we make sure that the information on our screening reports is accurate?” Let’s start by asking you this question: true or false – the resident screening process begins when the application/applicant information is provided to the resident screening company to perform some sort of background check. The answer is false.

The actual resident screening process begins right at the moment when the applicant decides they want to apply with you for housing. That is why it is essential that the resident screening process starts with you, the landlord or property manager. In order to make absolutely certain that the applicant’s information on their rental application is accurate, you should have the applicant provide multiple forms of identification to you for identity verification. Here is a list of three essential identification items:

1. Government-issued Photo Identification.

This Identification (often a drivers license or state-issued ID) will allow you to purify the following information – the name, the date of birth, and a physical address. Ideally, you should look at the ID while the applicant is in your presence to verify that the face on the ID matches the person in front of you.

2. Social Security Card.

Reviewing the applicant’s Social Security Card allows you to not only verify that the Social Security Number is correct, but also that the number has been assigned to your applicant. If the applicant cannot provide a Social Security Card, then the applicant should provide to you either a copy of a recent pay stub, a recent income tax statement, or any other document that clearly associates the Social Security Number to the applicant. If their card is lost or misplaced, the Social Security Administration recommends that all individuals apply for a replacement card as soon as possible.

3. Pay Stubs.

Having the applicant provide pay stubs helps to verify their current employment, their current salary, their hours worked per pay period, their name, and in some cases their Social Security Number. Plus, most individuals must income-qualify in order to rent from their prospective house or complex, so seeing pay stubs ahead of time will save you time in making certain that the applicant can afford your rental unit.

Taking the time to verify a person’s identity before submitting the information on a resident screening report will help ensure a thorough report, a safer property for your residents, and a more profitable property for you!

by Zane Johnson