macdata background screening

A Landlord’s Guide To South Dakota Tenant Screening [2023]

Ascertaining the reliability and responsibility of potential tenants is crucial in any part of the U.S., and South Dakota is no exception. The process is a blend of regulatory compliance, technological sophistication, and tenant management best practices. In an ever-evolving leasing market and changing legal landscape, the need for a dependable and streamlined tenant screening solution such as MacData is clear. 

We aim to equip landlords and property managers with the necessary information to maintain healthy and profitable relationships with tenants. Join us as we take you through an in-depth review of tenant screening essentials in the beautiful Rushmore State.

Understanding the Importance of Tenant Screening in South Dakota

Tenant screening is a cornerstone task for any landlord. It’s not just about filling vacancies quickly; it’s also about making sure your rental property thrives over time.

The Fair Housing Act mandates equal opportunity, but it doesn’t guarantee that all tenants will respect their lease or care for your property. Effective tenant screening helps protect against potential issues like unpaid rent and damage to the property.

Beyond this, well-screened tenants typically result in less turnover and longer tenancies which means more steady income. Furthermore, positive relationships with responsible tenants can lead to less stress and happier communities within your properties. It’s a win-win.

Legal Requirements for Tenant Screening in South Dakota

Tenant screening laws can seem complicated, but navigating them is key to running your rental business smoothly. Under federal regulations, discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability is prohibited.

On the state level, there’s South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL) 43-32, governing tenant and landlord relationships. This includes rules about security deposits and lease agreements.

Another important regulation at the federal level covers privacy rights during background checks. To conduct these legally you need an applicant’s written consent as per the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines.

All the legal jargon may seem a little overwhelming, but the goal here isn’t to become a lawyer overnight. The main thing is to understand that following these laws not only protects tenants but also shields landlords from potential lawsuits.

Best Practices for Tenant Screening in South Dakota

Tenant screening is a crucial process that helps landlords find the right tenants. To get started, there are a few steps to follow.

It’s essential to check an applicant’s credit history. This can give you insight into their financial responsibility.

Background checks help ensure your tenant doesn’t have a criminal record or other issues that could pose risks.

Always ask for references and take the time to contact them. Past landlords and employers can provide valuable insights about potential tenants.

The handling of application fees and security deposits also plays a significant role in the screening process. Application fees should be reasonable, typically not exceeding the cost of conducting background checks. South Dakota law allows up to one month’s rent as a security deposit, but always return it promptly if the applicant isn’t selected.

Avoid rushing through this critical phase; remember – patience pays off when selecting quality tenants.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Tenant Screening

Let’s tackle some of the common mistakes landlords often make during tenant screening. Falling for these pitfalls can lead to headaches down the road, so being aware is half the battle.

The first pitfall is neglecting reference checks. It’s tempting to skip this step, but it could reveal vital information about your potential tenant’s past behavior. A good rental history doesn’t lie.

Another mistake is ignoring red flags like inconsistent income or poor credit scores because you want to fill vacancies quickly, but quick decisions can turn into long-term problems.

Fair housing laws are another area where many landlords stumble unintentionally; violating these rules, even unknowingly, could land you in hot water legally and financially.

To avoid such hiccups and ensure smooth sailing when screening tenants, consider using professional services like MacData that help streamline your process with our comprehensive tenant screening offerings. 

Enhancing Your Tenant Screening Process with Technology

Technology is a game-changer in the tenant screening process. Online applications make it easy for prospective tenants to apply and speed up your review process.

Digital background checks are another blessing of modern technology. They give landlords instant access to an applicant’s credit report, criminal history, eviction records, and more quickly and efficiently. 

Apart from that, automated rent collection systems save time and help avoid late payments or missed rents. These technologies not only streamline the entire rental management process but also offer peace of mind by making sure every aspect is handled professionally and lawfully.

The world is shifting towards digital solutions, so why shouldn’t your tenant screening process?

Preparing for Potential Challenges in Tenant Screening

Tenant screening in South Dakota may present a few challenges. One common hurdle is handling incomplete applications. Make sure to establish clear guidelines and stick to them; don’t be tempted to accept half-completed forms.

Poor credit history can also pose a problem. While it’s essential not to discriminate, you need to protect your interests too. An open conversation with the applicant might help uncover circumstances behind their low score.

A tricky situation arises when an applicant has a criminal background. As long as they’re not currently engaged in illegal activities or have convictions that could affect tenancy, HUD guidance suggests giving them fair consideration.

MacData‘s tenant screening service, offering comprehensive checks and full compliance with legal requirements, could ease these challenges significantly.


Tenant screening in South Dakota can both be a complex yet rewarding process. Proper screening methodologies, as detailed in this guide, can help you, as a landlord or property owner safeguard your investments and cultivate fulfilling relationships with your tenants. While navigating the intricacies of South Dakota’s rental regulations may seem daunting, resources such as this article can significantly streamline the process. 

Ultimately, judicious tenant selection is the backbone of a successful and hassle-free rental experience in South Dakota for both you and your tenants. Ensure you are fully vested in this process, armed with the right knowledge and tools, to create a flourishing, profitable rental business.