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Running Background Checks on Tenants

By: Jay Romano

October 18th, 2013

Q: Two months ago, I rented my downstairs apartment to a tenant through a broker. The broker told me that he had done a credit report and a criminal background check on the tenant and that everything had come back fine. Since we share a mailbox, I have noticed that the tenant has been getting notices from collection agencies. The broker told me he would send me the reports, but I have never received any information on this tenant. I am now concerned. What can I do?

A: If the tenant causes damages or fails to pay the rent, the writer may be able to sue the broker for failing to do the agreed due diligence on the tenant, according to Adam Leitman Bailey, a Manhattan real estate lawyer.

“The writer should call the broker and ask for the promised information,” he said, adding that the writer can also obtain the tenant’s credit reports and criminal records.

New York criminal records can be obtained by going to the criminal court in a relevant county and buying a report of crimes committed in that county.

To obtain a credit report, Mr. Bailey said, the writer would need a written authorization from the tenant. He must also have the tenant’s complete name and any aliases he or she has used, former and current addresses, and the Social Security number.

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