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Do You Search Your Applicant’s Social Media?

Do you check your applicants on social media sites to see what they have been up too?

Perhaps you should.

Remember that one of the most important things you do as a landlord is find tenants who will pay, stay and take care of your property. And sometimes you need just a bit more than a criminal and work history background check to do that. Especially if a potential red flag begins to wave. Searching an applicant’s social media can help determine if those red flags are genuine concerns.

Here is an example. Suppose you have an otherwise decent applicant who claims to have been unfairly treated by a previous landlord that has dinged her rental history. You applicant claims the landlord never made necessary repairs so she moved out. The landlord claims the applicant failed to pay the rent on the last month of her lease and just left in the middle of the night. Who to believe? Both sides to the story have been known to happen.

You decide to Google your applicant’s name. Her Facebook account pops up and you take a look. On her Facebook page are pictures of a beach vacation with comments stating that she was in effect having fun on her landlord’s account. You now know which side is telling the truth.

Here is another example. Perhaps an applicant claims to have only “one small” dog. A quick search however turns up pictures of your applicant with several rather angry looking German shepherds.

The point is you can find out all sorts of things by looking at your applicant’s social media. Just by Googling their name or e-mail address you can get past the “best face façade” and develop an idea of what they are really like. People post all kinds of things. We have seen drug use, criminal activity and just plain sloppiness and stupidity.

On the other hand, not everything posted on social media is bad. Searching social media can reinforce the good things that an applicant states and help you determine that you are likely to have a good tenant. A search can show they have a steady job and steady family life and are just normal folks posting normal things.

If you find searching an applicant’s social media a bit creepy, I honestly have to agree with you a bit. But social media today is a fact of life and everyone has to have the expectation that whatever they post on the interest will not remain private. So, word to the wise, be careful what you post.

Is it legal? Yes, as long as you are not discriminatory and consistent in the way you use it. Just Google everyone and document what you find. There really is no right to privacy when you post something on a public website like Facebook. It is up to the applicant to use the privacy tools found on social media websites to keep things they do not wish to be seen private. Or to simply not post those pics of them doing bong hits at all.

Making a few extra clicks when screening your applicants is definitely worth the effort. Searching social media can really back up or completely destroy what an applicant has told you on your application. You never know what you might find and you just might save yourself from some real headaches.

Do you search social media with your applicants? Let me know with your comments.

One Response to “Do You Search Your Applicant’s Social Media?”
  1. What a simple idea! And it’s free! Plus it’s well-know that employers often check out employees’ Facebook pages. Same with colleges when reviewing applicants.

    So even though I haven’t searched applicants’ social media sites, I will in the future.

    Thanks for the tip!

    George Lambert
    Author, What You Must Know BEFORE Becoming a Greedy Landlord

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