Rental housing crime studies have repeatedly shown that moderate to high-crime problems can usually be traced back to a small percentage of residents. Those causing the crime problems are often the acquaintances, ex-spouses, or boyfriends of a legal resident who decided to move in without your permission.
The best way to head off this problem is to practice resident screening and enforce clearly defined and articulated community rules that are emphasized during the lease application process. The resident needs to know that their tenancy may be in jeopardy if they bring in an unauthorized (and unscreened) occupant. Proof of this method is well documented in apartment properties all over the country, as police calls for service seem to fluctuate proportionally as resident screening standards and rule enforcement vary following management changes.
Good resident screening involves checking credit, employment, rental history, and criminal background, if available. A good screening plan should call for all non-dependent occupants to be included on the lease and subject to the same resident qualifications. All children should be identified on the lease along with maximum occupancy limits. In this day and age, resident screening is more than just establishing the ability to pay rent. In my experience, properties that tend to have a higher percentage of unauthorized occupants have lowered their screening standards on credit, rental and employment history, and don’t do available criminal background checks. A policy of collecting double deposits or getting co-signers for an otherwise unqualified applicant is asking for trouble down the road and is unfair to the other residents.
Reprinted with thanks and permission of Chris E. McGoey. Mr. McGoey may be reached at (951) 461-8950 or by visiting www.crimedoctor.com This article may not be copied or republished without the consent of the author.