Finding that ideal home can be difficult even at the best of times. Most of us have a list of requirements we aspire to. However, there are often times we have to make compromises.
When you have a criminal record, these compromises are often much more. Just as with employers, landlords are reluctant to accommodate those with criminal convictions. And since felons are considered riskier, they face the most discrimination.
Realtors are used by many property owners to find buyers and renters. But do realtors run background checks? This issue is relevant as background checks would be the easiest way to reveal criminal pasts.
This often those with felonies and misdemeanor offenses with limited housing options. They often have to get creative about where and how to look for apartments.
Money is often tight for ex-cons due to the low-paying jobs they find themselves in. This thus means having to resort to Section 8 housing. Though many projects are rundown, they are cheap.
For those with felonies and misdemeanors on record, it is good to understand how realtors work. This can guide you on what to expect when hunting for suitable housing. You can also better strategize on how to approach them and hopefully secure a decent home.
What Is a Realtor?
Realtors are real estate professionals that are a bridge between property owners and buyers. They are licensed agents that belong to the National Association of Realtors.
They deal primarily with the buying and selling of commercial and residential properties. This work is also done by real estate agents. Realtors are however more highly qualified and recognized thanks to the ethical standards they adhere to.
They can however also act as property management agents. This means they help landlords with renting out their properties.
Most felons will be in the market for rented accommodation. Some may however have enough money or good credit to help them buy. Either way, they will likely need to engage the services of a realtor.
They will take potential buyers on tours of the house and help in negotiations. Realtors can also assist with identifying suitable mortgage options and finalizing the sale.
They earn their income from taking a commission on the sale. For rental properties, they will likely arrange a flat fee with the landlord or from the tenant.
When it comes to background checks, lenders are the ones to seek this information. They are mostly interested in credit history and score checks. Realtors do not pursue this when handling a purchase or sale of a property.
They may however do so when it comes to rental property management. Let’s discuss the reasons behind this.
Why Realtors May Perform Background Checks?
Safety is an important issue when it comes to the home. you want to know that you are living around good people. Realtors try to create such a conducive environment for tenants.
The more peaceful and safe tenants feel, the more likely they are to remain long term. Having people that may act criminally is a bad risk. It may lead to other tenants being harmed or property being damaged or stolen.
Criminal background checks are one of the ways that realtors can limit this risk. Certain crimes are more worrisome than others.
Those that have committed violent acts, sexual offenses, theft, and property damage are of concern. Those with a history of drug offenses are also not highly rated.
Keeping such elements out of the community is considered the best approach. A landlord may find themselves liable if they do allow someone with such criminal history to reside on their property.
If another tenant is harmed or stolen from by such persons, they may be held liable. Legally they can choose not to rent to such people if they can argue they are a threat.
There is also the issue or transitory. Many ex-cons have difficulty achieving stability. This can be at work and home.
They often move from place to place. Renting to them can mean having to deal with a high tenancy turnover. It is more profitable to have long term tenants.
What Kind of Background Check Do Realtors Run?
Unlike lenders, realtors may perform both criminal background and credit history checks. They will often engage third-party reporting agencies that adhere to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Criminal background checks will often involve a review of county, state, and federal criminal databases. They will also check the sex offender registries and terror watch lists.
Most agencies will make use of the person’s name, date of birth, address, and social security number. These details will help ensure they are checking on the right person. The person must however approve such a check in writing.
Depending on state law, there may be a limit as to how far back this report can go.
Credit history checks are also important in ensuring a person can be trusted to pay their rent. A good financial record is helpful.
It can also provide information on previous landlords. Realtors can also learn about late or outstanding utility bills that may indicate a problem tenant.
Factors Realtors Consider When Renting to Felons
When reviewing these background reports, realtors will pay attention to the dates. The more recent the conviction and reports of late bills, the higher the risk. If the reports are decade old, then chances are the person has reformed.
As mentioned, certain crimes are more worrying. Someone with a history of sexually abusing minors would be highly undesirable compared to someone convicted of perjury. So the severity and relevance of the offense to the community is considered.
It is also noteworthy that those on sex offender registries are often given housing conditions. For instance, they may not live within a certain distance from schools and parks.
Repeat offenders are also a concern. Someone with just one offense committed a long time ago is better than a repeat offender recently released.
Yes. Realtors do run background checks, especially on rental property tenants. You should expect this and to be asked to sign a consent form.
Unless the crime was particularly severe, stability will be your biggest strength. Having a good credit score, sufficient income, and steady work will help.
In as much as realtors want to avoid liability issues and ensure safety, they need the money too. Prove that you can be a reliable and peaceful tenant and you stand a decent chance.