Do you know if you're a criminal?

I think that we’re now officially getting into the 3rd generation of the welfare state, where honesty has been completely wiped out of the vocabulary. The new trend in low-class tenant applicants seems to be amnesia about their history. I’ve had 3 tenants in the past week that claimed not to remember if they had a criminal record or eviction history.

Just today, a woman called wanting to rent my 2 bedroom duplex. With my telephone screening, I try to eliminate all the riff raff in 1 minute or less (it’s kind of a game). Anyway, I ran through my schpeel and asked if she had ever been evicted. She asked her boyfriend who was obviously standing there giving her the answers (another common feature of the welfare generation - it takes 2 people to talk on the phone). The boyfriend told her that she had not been evicted. She told me that she didn’t THINK so, but that she would need to check her credit report to be sure! I said, surely you know whether you’ve been evicted. After consultation with her boyfriend, she claimed that she didn’t. I guess that she thought ignorance was bliss. Outta here - 49 seconds!

I had the same scenario yesterday with a man who didn’t know if he had more than 2 misdemeanors in the past 5 years. Outta here!

How many welfare tenant applicants does it take to remember their history?


Well, I’m not sure if this has anything to do with being poor or on welfare. It just has to do with lying.

I’d rather deal with inexperienced or obvious liar than mess the white-collared crooks who steal millions from their corporations.

I don’t have many white collar people looking at my rentals. In my area, white collar workers own a house.

I disagree that there isn’t a link between being poor and being a criminal. I have a lot of low income rentals and can tell you that the vast majority of applicants for our low income tenants ARE criminals. I eliminate about 90%-95% of people who call for 2 reasons: 1) they are serious criminals and 2) they have been recently evicted. By far, the number one reason for being denied is that they are criminals.

Many of these people are low income because they are lazy and are criminals. Why work when my tax dollars will pay them to stay home and smoke crack? Just this week, I met a husband and wife who were convicted felons (drug dealers), a guy who was convicted of stealing auto parts from his employer, a woman who just got out of prison (again drugs), and a woman who was evicted (but wasn’t really sure). I did fill one house and one apartment vacancy this week. Both had previous drug convictions but they were more than 5 years ago, with clean records since.

The majority of appicants I talk to on a daily basis do not work. A high percentage are on SSDI, Section 8, welfare, food stamps, and other government programs. My typical tenant is an unemployed single white female who has several children, all by different men. SAD!


There’s a great reason to forget the multi family crap and buy commercial real estate.

I had multi family rentals in low income areas. NIGHTMARE! Like selling cars to people with bad credit. Can you say “chase is on”

I dumped them all and built self storage warehouses. You don’t pay me? I put a lock on the door and auction your stuff. Hell, I change the code on the entrance gate and you can’t even get close to your unit. 99% reduction in Bullsh*t. Easiest thing you’ll ever build, no heat, no water, no septic. SMARTER NOT HARDER!

These fools probably think you are asking but won’t follow up. And most times they would be right, most landlords don’t know HOW to find out if they are a criminal or have an eviction history.

 This is an easy one..."I charge $30.00 for a screening fee, I don't make money on this as it costs me this amount to run a criminal background check and eviction history"  5 seconds.  Amnesia?'s like they're taking ginko biloba.


I also charge a $25 application fee. I have gotten 8 of these fees before I found someone who wasn’t lying about being a criminal. As I always say, CRIMINALS ARE STUPID!

I do a local background check for free before doing the credit check. Once their busted with the criminal check, I keep the application fee for lunch!


I had prospective tenants who drove up in a BMW and looked very nice. They were a young couple and seemed very well educated. They had cash to spend and needed a place “asap because a house they had an offer on fell through”.

Well guess what. I checked the credit and they were the tenants I talked about in my earlier post. They suddently could not remember cars being repossessed and unpaid medical bills. Evictions? What evictions? There were about 3-4 on their record.

So my point is that liars are liars. It’s a tactic that people use when they aren’t sure how to more smoothly lie their way out of a situation. Some crooks are just better at lying, but hands out, down you catch a crook, they aren’t to blame or don’t remember. Kids do the same thing. “Homework is due? Oh…that homework. I forgot about that assignment.”

For those of us who are new and looking to get into landlording, can you pass on the ways to do a criminal check and pull someone’s credit?

I would really appreciate it.



Are you saying that dealing with tenants is like dealing with a bunch of children???


Let me answer, that I have and they are much more well behaved.
Although one did LIE about owning a pet, when I heard the meowing and saw little paws come out from underneath her bedroom door she was busted!! lol
But unlike me tennants she didn’t say that she was babysitting it for her boyfriend!!

I also charge a $25 application fee. I have gotten 8 of these fees before I found someone who wasn’t lying about being a criminal. As I always say, CRIMINALS ARE STUPID!


For those of us who are new and looking to get into landlording, can you pass on the ways to do a criminal check and pull someone’s credit?

 This is a topic that is pretty thorny in the state of CA.  Technically, you cannot discriminate against criminals, but you can deny someone tenancy if they seem like a threat to the community.  Also, you can deny someone tenancy if they lie on an application.  The short answer is yes, you can pull credit without pulling criminal.  I have not had the easiest time landlording, but I think it would be much worse if I didn't screen my tenants as carefully as possible.
in the state of CA. Technically, you cannot discriminate against criminals

That is reason enough for me to not want to live in the People’s Republic of California. That is the DUMBEST thing I’ve ever heard of. If you can’t discriminate against some loser criminal, what is the point of doing any screening?

There are many services that will pull credit and criminal background checks for you. Simply put “tenant screening” in a web search engine and you’ll get a lot of answers. Also, you can ask the successful local investors how they do it, but what’s the point? If you can discriminate against the scumbags when you find them, why bother?


 I feel your frustration, Mike.  If you think the landlording laws are dumb in CA, you should try getting one of these properties to cash flow....

When you turn an applicant away, do you have to give a reason?

I don’t know of a federal or state law (Ohio) that requires you to give the applicant a reason for being turned down. HOWEVER, if you don’t give them a reason, then you open yourself up to claims of discrimination. I am always honest with the tenant. “You’re a convicted criminal” is a legal reason (in Ohio) to disqualify a tenant if that is your policy. “You have an eviction on your record” is another.

I also have a written screening policy for our companies. If the tenant has a problem with my decision, I can show them our screening policy in black and white.


a credit check coupled with employment and housing history paints a pretty complete picture almost all of the time; teh key is to verify the submitted info as peopel will lie like crazy.

people who are criminals usually are frequently short on cash (thus crappy credit) and change jobs frequently (hard to be on-time when you in slammer or court all the time); unless your the CEO of Enron…but then you won’t want to rent by $650/mn house anyways

I use it costs $25 and I get their criminal, evictions, judgments, sexual preditor, terror watchlist and credit report.