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Tenant Screening Tip: Beyond the Basics

From “Don’t Make These Mistakes When Screening Tenants From Abroad” by Bill Gray

Screening possible new tenants who have recently come from another country can be challenging.

Red flag photoEven those who may have been in the U.S. for some time may be a challenge if you are not judicious enough to very carefully read what they have submitted on their rental application.

1. Dates: When most Americans write a date, they normally put it in month/day/year order. In other countries, however, often the month and day are inverted so that dates are printed day/month/year. The American military also uses a dating system that shows day/month/year.

Also be aware that the numbers themselves may look different than the way you are accustomed to seeing them. Many other countries put a hook on the bottom of a 9 or a line through the middle of a 7.

Since several types of screening reports are matched to birth dates, you can understand that entering the wrong date could hinder your ability to receive complete data about your applicant. I prefer a rental application that clearly asks for the day, month and year.

2. Hyphenated names and spelling: Other than possibly nicknames, most of us print or write out our name the same way every time. Not so in some other countries. Often the name is hyphenated to combine the maternal and paternal names; others may use a combination of the married and maiden name. The way the name is written is sometimes dependent upon the purpose for writing their name.

Always ask for a U.S. or international driver’s license to verify the name spelling. Also make a copy for your records. If your prospect does not have a driver’s license, a visa is better than nothing.

Not only are numbers often written differently, many times letters are also written differently by applicants who may have learned to write English in another country.

Make sure you go over the application with your prospective tenant so that you are very clear on the dates and how everything is spelled. If you do this, you will increase the possibility of purchasing a much more accurate tenant screening report.

Copyright 2009 Bill Gray
Bill Gray is a tenant debt collection specialist, which makes him a tenant screening specialist. For tenant debt concerns or tenant screening questions, email him at [email protected].
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See How to Screen a Tenant Who Doesn’t Have a Social Security Number

See our seven part series, Vital Tips to Increase Your Debt Collection.

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