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A Landlord’s Guide to New Jersey Tenant Screening [2023]

In the first five months of 2022, landlords in New Jersey filed over 40,000 eviction cases. These statistics show that many potential tenants may not be reliable or responsible. As such, landlords should screen potential tenants.

New Jersey tenant screening involves checking credit history, rental history, and doing a criminal background. Besides these factors, landlords should also consider their personal preferences. Yet, they need to know the legal requirements when making this decision.

In this guide, we will provide you with a guide to tenant screening in New Jersey. We will cover the different types of screening. Continue reading for more information.

What Is Tenant Screening?

Tenant screening is the process of gathering information about a potential tenant. The information can include information about their credit history, rental history, and criminal history. Doing this can help landlords avoid renting to unreliable and irresponsible tenants.

The specific information that landlords can gather from tenants will vary with their screening process. Either way, landlords should know the legal requirements for apartment tenant screening. Most jurisdictions have laws prohibiting landlords from discriminating against tenants.

Why Tenant Screening Is Important for Landlords in New Jersey

Tenant screening is an important part of the rental process for landlords in New Jersey. It helps ensure that you rent your property to someone likely to take care of it. A good tenant will pay rent on time, take care of the property, and report any maintenance issues.

Renting to an unreliable tenant can lead to financial losses for landlords. For example, a bad tenant may not pay rent on time, or they may damage the property. By screening potential tenants, you can help to reduce the risk of financial losses.

New Jersey tenant screening laws help regulate tenant screening. These laws help ensure that you are not discriminating against potential tenants. Background screening also helps you find the best tenant for your property.

Legal Requirements for Tenant Screening in New Jersey

New Jersey has laws that regulate tenant screening. These landlord-tenant laws help protect potential tenants from discrimination. They also ensure that landlords are using fair and impartial screening criteria.

Landlords in New Jersey can’t discriminate against potential tenants based on race, religion, origin, or sex. They must also get written consent from potential tenants before running a credit or criminal tenant background check in New Jersey. Also, landlords must share a copy of the tenant screening report before deciding whether to rent to them.

The New Jersey law requires you to keep tenant screening records for at least three years. You may be subject to civil penalties if you violate these legal requirements. To stay compliant, treat all potential tenants the same way.

Factors to Consider When Screening Tenants

Ultimately, the decision of which factors to consider when screening tenants is up to the landlord. Not all of these factors will be relevant in every case. For example, a landlord renting a room in their own home may not focus on the tenant’s credit history as a landlord renting out an apartment building.

Credit and Rental History

Good credit history indicates a tenant’s ability to pay rent on time. A tenant with poor credit and a bankruptcy history may be more likely to have difficulty paying rent. As such, this could lead to financial losses for the landlord.

Rental history is a record of a tenant’s past evictions and rental experiences. Tenants with good rental histories are likely to respect the property and be responsible. They will take care of the property and report any maintenance issues promptly.

Criminal Background

A tenant background check in New Jersey can include information about arrests, convictions, and sentencing. It helps identify tenants who may be a risk to the property or other tenants. A tenant with a criminal history may be more likely to damage the property or engage in illegal activity.

Income Verification

You should do income verification to confirm that the tenant’s income is what they claim it to be. The process can help ensure that the tenant can afford the rent. A tenant who can’t afford the rent is more likely to default on rent payments.

Personal Preferences

Landlords may also consider their personal preferences when screening tenants. Some common personal preferences include whether to allow pets and the tenant’s occupation. Other preferences include the number of people living in the rental unit, the tenant’s age, and whether the tenant smokes.

Tips for a Successful Tenant Screening Process

You can use a reputable tenant screening company for the process to be successful. Choose reliable tenant screening services in New Jersey for a comprehensive report on the tenant. The report can include their credit history, criminal background, and rental history.

Besides using a property management company, ask the tenant for references. These references allow you to speak to people who know the tenant. You can get their opinion on the tenant’s character and reliability.

Be thorough in your screening process. The more information you have about a potential tenant, the better the decision you can make about whether to rent to them. You should take time to thoroughly screen each potential tenant before deciding.

Above all, be clear about your expectations. Let the tenant know what you expect from them regarding rent payments, maintenance, and other matters. You should also inform them about your policies on pets, smoking, and guests.

Remember to keep the tenant updated on any questions or concerns about their rental application. Hire tenant screening services in New Jersey to do the hard work for you. 

Need Help with New Jersey Tenant Screening?

New Jersey tenant screening can help landlords protect their property and their investment. Landlords can use a reputable tenant screening company to ensure they are in compliance with New Jersey tenant screening laws.

If you’re looking to protect your business with background screening, MacData is here to help. We are FCRA compliant, and our services are fast, secure, and convenient. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect your business.