The Complete Guide to Tenant Screening

Every Landlord has faced the question before: How do you get a good quality tenant to lease your rental?

You want to make sure that your prospective renter can do three things really well:

  1. Pay the rent on time.
  2. Keep the apartment in good condition
  3. Not disturb other tenants or cause trouble.

Enter the tenant screening process. While well known and well used, it’s actually quite misunderstood.

In this guide, I’m going to cover a few important issues. If you follow them well, you have an incredibly high chance of getting high quality tenants without much fuss.

We’ll cover:

  1.  What is tenant screening and How does it work?
  2. What makes a great tenant?
  3. How do you find a good tenant?
  4. How Do Fair Housing Laws Affect Tenant Screening and Apartment Marketing?
  5. How to Pre-Screen Tenants with your Rental Application
  6. What You Must Put On Your Rental Application
  7. How to Run a Background Check and Credit Report on Your Tenant
  8. Tenant Employment Verification to Verify Income
  9. How to Verify Previous Rentals with a Landlord Verification
  10. Running a Background Check on a Co-signer or Coapplicant
  11. The Adverse Action Letter: Denying a Tenant Application

What is Tenant Screening?

Tenant screening means finding out everything there is to know about your potential tenants, as it affects their ability to pay and meet the requirements of their lease. In other words, it’s a deep dive into who your tenants are and what you can learn from their past actions.

Tenant screening works by taking all of the important qualities you want from a tenant (we’ll get to that in a second), and making sure they exist. It involves checking their criminal and credit history, talking to landlords and employers, and making sure they have the money to pay the rent for the next year.

When you think about it, you’re giving someone access to a product (your rental) over a year or longer, so you need to make absolutely sure that your renter can handle it. Thinking about it like a much smaller version of mortgage lending will help you evaluate risk and make the right decision when it comes to choosing a tenant.

What are good qualities for tenants to have?

The most important thing you look for in a tenant is their ability to pay the rent, on time, every time.

All of the qualities below influence that:

  1. Ability to pay You need to establish the tenant’s ability to pay the rent. A good rule of thumb is that the tenant must make at least 3 times the rent in monthly income. Settling for less may jeopardize your ability to collect rent from a tenant.
  2. Consistently pay on time The tenant needs to show that not only can they pay the rent, they will. This is usually established by looking at credit reports and talking to previous landlords.
  3. Long term Income Will the tenant always have a job over the length of their lease? This is not 100% easy to predict, but a history of stable work history over the last few years with consistent income and paychecks is a good sign.

How to Market and Find a Great Tenant

Apartment marketing is an art unto itself, and is probably deserving of another post altogether. But to put it briefly, there are plenty of great tenants out there. When you first post your ad, make sure your screening requirements are clearly listed in the ad.

Make sure you are honest about what your apartment is, and the type of tenants it can support in terms of income and employment.

Different internet sites drive different types of tenants. Make sure to test ads both on Craigslist AND other sites like Facebook.

 Fair Housing Laws,  Tenant Screening and you

You can screen people based on some information and details but not on others. For example, it’s fine to disallow a prospective tenant because of a poor credit history or a violent criminal past. What’s not ok, and is illegal, is discrimination against someone in what’s called a “protected class”.

The Fair Housing Act make it illegal to discriminate based upon “race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap”. While that seems obvious, it means you can’t write things like “No Kids” or “Great Hispanic Neighborhood” in your ad.

When talking to prospective tenants, you can’t ask them about their family or mention what a wonderful catholic neighborhood your apartment is in.

To reiterate – you can deny someone rent based on their criminal background, a past eviction, or all sorts of monetary criteria. But you can’t violate the basics of the fair housing laws.

How a Rental Application will Get You Great Tenants

The rental application is actually a core process of your tenant screening. Most tenants hate applying, because they’re incredibly long and take a good 15-20 minutes to fill at least. For the Landlord or Property Manager, however, the leasing application is the second line of defense after making your requirements clear in your marketing.

Simply put, the property application and leasing form allows you to gather all the information you need, and to catch tenants in lies. Many prospective tenants who don’t meet your requirements, will balk at paying and filling out the application. Other tenants, who don’t want to put the effort in to filling out the application, may not put the effort into paying the rent on time, either.

In short, the rental application is a great way to weed out those who wouldn’t make it to the final stage anyway, while saving you a ton of time and money.

What Should Go  On Your Rental Application

The Rental Application should have a few important sections:

  1. Identity Verification: Here you ask for the Applicant’s Name, Date of Birth, Social Security Number, Driver’s License, Current Address and phone and email.
  2. Employment and Income: Current and previous employers going back 5 years. Salary information and any other claimed income.
  3. Rental History: Names, Addresses, Phone Numbers of Previous Landlords going back 5 years.
  4. Criminal, Eviction and Bankruptcy questions: Asking the prospective tenant if any of these issues have affected them makes things much simpler off the bat.
  5. Consent form: You must have a consent form, separate from any other form, in order to run credit, background and landlord screening.

How to Run a Background Check and Credit Report on Your Tenant

Once you have your tenant’s application, and a separate signed consent form, it’s time to run the actual background check and check the credit report. We’ll add more info here about logging into your background check system and pulling credit reports.

Make sure your tenants know that the credit report for renting will be a hard pull, so they’re not surprised when it shows up on their systems.

Verifying your Tenant’s Income and their Employment

Assuming the background check came back clear [no felonies, evictions, reasonable credit score and information], it’s time to make sure they’re telling the truth about how much money they make and who they work for.

Verifying income is tougher then most landlords consider. W-2s and Income statements can be easily faked.  Most Landlords will be ok with pay stubs anyway, but there are a number of more secure ways to verify income:

1. File IRS Form 4506-t and get access to the previous years W2, 1099 or 1040 Form

2. Do an online screen share with your tenant to view their income from their bank account.

3. Use a background check service to authenticate employment verification for your tenants.

The next step is via employment. You might do this via a service like The Work Number, or by simply calling the reference. When calling the reference, google the phone number first to make sure it really belongs to the company. Call the company main line and ask to speak to the person listed as a reference. Unscrupulous tenants have been known to provide cell phone numbers of friends and family, instead of a bad reference from a boss.

Verifying Previous Landlords

Call previous landlords to find out how the tenants acted. Did they pay rent on time? Were they evicted? Did they cause trouble?

Before calling the landlord, verify with the county assessor that the name given is the owner of the property. Sometimes it may be a property manager or real estate agent, but you need to check these things. Tenants can sometimes provide the most bizarre and inaccurate information to try and trick you.

Should you run a background check on a co-signer?

This is the simplest answer: anyone who is going to be on the hook for rental payments, needs to have their background screened and verified.

The Denial Letter

If you decide not to accept a tenant, you must send them an Adverse Action letter telling them why, and notifying them of the name of the Consumer Reporting Agency who created the report.

 

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Utah


Running Employment Background Checks in Utah

Utah is a state that is known for its efficiency in both business and government. So when it was discovered that a state rule that it had for pre-employment inquiry on the part of employers was now precisely like federal law, the state went in and repealed the specific rule, saving taxpayers some money.

The upshot for Utah employers is that the state guidelines for employment background checks closely mirror those of the Federal government through its various agencies. Here are some relevant details for running employment screening while hiring in Utah.

Utah requirements for different professions:

Like other states, Utah has recognized that certain professions require a great deal more scrutiny during the hiring process than others. Therefore, teachers and employees that work closely with children normally have a criminal history background check done on them by their prospective employer. Utah state law requires that a background check be done on all potential hires for Charter schools and the criminal background check is just a part of this. The details of the process are largely left up to the individual school district, but some of them do provide a process within the hiring process for potential hires to actually explain convictions or arrests that may be mistakenly show up on the candidate’s record.

Another set of job types where employers are clear to run criminal checks on their workers has to do with applicants that will be working in jobs with “financial, national security, or statutory authority” responsibilities.

Beyond those two types of roles, the state of Utah explicitly mentions that employers will not be able to run criminal background checks directly. The applicants themselves must ask for a criminal background check from the appropriate state department and then submit the results to the employer.

For truck drivers and delivery personnel, it is common for employers to run a driving record report that will verify that the applicant has a valid license. If there are infractions that appear on the applicant’s record, those infractions can be an acceptable reason for companies to disqualify that individual from further employment consideration.

General requirements for background checks in Utah:

Utah appears to spend much of its regulatory energy remaining in line with federal statutes and guidelines regarding the hiring process. Because of this, hiring in Utah is not much different than hiring in other states that are very federal government-centric in their policies.

The state does have a very clear set of guidelines that cover how criminal background checks can proceed for many employers that ask their employees to get a copy of their own criminal background. Employers need to ask employees to sign a waiver and then provide them with information that tells them specifically what information will be used and how it will be used in the hiring process. The idea is to make the process transparent so that both parties understand the importance of following the guidelines.

Drug testing in Utah is acceptable as long as the testing relates to the potential work to be performed. In practice, this covers almost every type of job. A failed drug test is viewed as being an adequate reason not to offer employment.

Similarly, driving records checks can be done, although the state requires that you get permission in writing from the applicant to do so.

For employment background checks that are non-criminal, there are currently no laws or statutes that differ from federal guidelines.

What can be shown on a background check in Utah:

For companies that run a criminal background check or have their applicants submit one, they will receive the same personal information about their employee that they used on their application. They will also see a record of convictions and court dispositions.

Driving record reports will show either 3 or 7 years of the applicant’s driving history with a history of infractions and tickets that have not been expunged from the record.

For non-criminal background checks, many companies often rely on third party businesses that specialize in knowing what is legal to state about someone and what isn’t. By using a third party vendor that already has the system worked out, a company can reduce its liability and learn about what types of information are legal to use at the same time.

Credit reports in UT for background checks:

Credit checks can be a useful type of background check if the job that you are hiring for requires workers to manage money, information, or financial data. Their use does not always correlate with worker performance- but as a Utah retailer recently found out, not running one for a current employee cost them millions of dollars as that person was able to create a system where they received additional money from the company’s suppliers- and then turned around and used it to pay off their personal gambling debts.

Utah currently follows the federal guidelines for credit screening as a part of the employment process. Applicants need to be informed and their information should be made available to them upon request.

Oregon


In addition to abiding by federal laws such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Oregon state laws further regulate what information employers can access during the employment screening process and how they can use that information.

Criminal History Checks in Oregon

The process for requesting a criminal background check and what information can be disclosed is governed by ORS 181.560.

In order to access information on an applicant’s criminal history, employers in Oregon must notify the applicant. When requesting that information from the state police, they must provide the time and location that the applicant was notified.

State police notify the subject of any criminal background check prior to providing that information to the requesting party. This notification contains a copy of all information that will provided to the potential employer, information on civil rights law relating to the employer’s use of the information contained in the report, and a procedure for challenging anything in the report that the applicant believes is inaccurate.

Background check results are provided to employers no sooner than 14 days after the subject of the check has been notified. Most criminal background checks are based on a name search. Some types of positions (see below) require fingerprint searches for increased accuracy.

Prior convictions, excluding juvenile convictions that have been expunged, and arrests within the last year for charges with no record of acquittal or dismissal appear on the report, and can include the following details:

• Date of arrest
• Offense
• Arresting agency
• Court of origin
• Sentence, including parole date and revocation of parole, if applicable

Information on arrests that did not result in a conviction does not appear, though pending arrests may.

Oregon law does not distinguish between misdemeanors and felonies for the purposes of criminal history reporting and there is no time restriction on the convictions that can appear on the report.

Using Criminal History as Grounds for Disqualification in OR

Criminal convictions alone are not sufficient grounds for denying an applicant employment in Oregon. Specific circumstances must be taken into account, including:

• Nature of the offense
• How long ago the applicant was convicted
• The nature of the job

More importantly, employers must consider the implications of the conviction on the position for which the applicant is being considered, taking into account such factors as the position’s degree of supervision, the applicant’s exposure to other employees, and where the job will be performed. Generalizations, such as “an applicant convicted of theft is more likely to steal” are not permissible reasons for denying employment based on a past conviction.

Other mitigating factors that must be considered are whether the applicant has performed similar work since the conviction with no further criminal conduct, character references, references concerning their suitability for the position, and efforts toward rehabilitation since the conviction.

Following federal law, Oregon employers are required to notify applicants if they are being disqualified for a position based on the contents of their criminal history report.

Employers are prohibited from using expunged juvenile records in hiring decisions unless that record directly relates to a specific job qualification.

Positions Requiring Mandatory Background Checks

ORS 443.004 requires background checks for anyone in a position that provides in-home care or who works with disabled individuals; ORS 181.547 provides further guidelines on background checks for positions with direct access to any of the following:

• Children
• The elderly
• Persons with disabilities
• Persons with mental illnesses
• The general public

Direct access is defined as interaction with the individual that meets the above criteria or with their personal information.

Common positions that fall under these rules are day care workers, in-home care assistants and law enforcement officers.

Additionally, these rules govern background checks for anyone seeking employment in a profession or trade that requires any of the following:

• Licensure
• Registration
• Certification
• Authorization

Background checks for applicants to positions meeting the above criteria generally require fingerprint identification to reduce incorrect reporting due to identity errors with name searches. Oregon law allows for consideration to be given to the cost of a nation-wide fingerprint search when performing these employment screenings.

Applicants for these kinds of positions may be disqualified based on the results of a criminal history check without the same regard for the relevance of the conviction to the position that is required for positions that don’t meet any of the above criteria.

Oregon maintains a Background Check Registry of individuals with completed background checks who are eligible to for employment as homecare workers without a new background check. Inclusion in the registry is subject to a new background check every two years.

Credit History in background checks under Oregon Law

While the FCRA allows employers to use an applicant’s credit history if it’s relevant to the position, Oregon law is more restrictive. Employers may not obtain or use any information about an applicant’s credit history unless they fall into specific exception categories, such as federally insured banks and positions for which such information is required by law for employment. ORS 659A.320 and the fact sheet summary for employers is available from Oregon’s Technical Assistance for Employers website.

In addition to creditworthiness, employers may not consider bankruptcy history or wage garnishment when making hiring decisions.

Additional Information

OR law also addresses information that may come up during an employment screening that falls outside the purview of criminal and credit history.

Employers may not use an applicant’s involvement in a civil case filed in good faith against an employer, as a plaintiff or witness, when making a hiring decision.

Per ORS 659A.315 employers may not deny employment to an applicant who smokes during non-work hours, and may not require as a condition of employment that an applicant refrain from smoking during non-work hours, unless there is a genuine occupational reason or a collective bargaining agreement is in place that prohibits off-duty smoking.

Oregon law is generally more restrictive than federal law on what information potential employers can access and how they can use it when making hiring decisions.

Georgia



Georgia offers a moderate amount of protection for job applicants when it comes to employment background checks. The overriding guideline that appears to be in use is if the screening component is relevant to the job, then it is probably legal to do. If you plan to hire workers in Georgia, the following information should prove to be useful:

Requirements for Different Professions:

Certain professions in Georgia are considered to be jobs that absolutely require the public’s confidence in the workers’ ability to be honest. In that type of position, it is common to see that State of Georgia licensing will not be forthcoming if they have a criminal record.

A good example of this is a real estate professional. Georgia will not license people who have a criminal record as they are considered to be people that will not inspire confidence when it comes to handling financial transactions. On the other hand, if the person is part of the First Offender program, they can have their offense set aside and become licensed as a realtor.

Other types of positions are considered to be more standard. For those hiring caregivers in the health care industry, for example, the standard guidelines apply: only screen for areas that directly impact their job. If a caregiver is not receiving checks from your clients, you do not likely need to run a credit check on them. If they will be managing your facility, you may run a credit check, a employment background check, a criminal history check, a driving record check, as well as a drug screening.

If you are hiring people that will be driving or transporting goods, it is common in Georgia to run a DMV check that will verify their commercial driving license and show any infractions that they might have. Employers will typically also run a criminal background check.

Most companies that work in technology and hire engineers and business staff tend to run criminal background screening, drug screening, and credit checks. The rationale for running a credit check will often be that that employee will have access to company information that is very valuable and therefore the company could be at risk if they do not understand that they are hiring people that may be in financial straits.

For some workers, because it is hard to imagine someone taking company information, a credit check may seem out of place yet Coca Cola in Atlanta had their secret formula stolen by an office worker some years ago and that person tried to sell the secret to Pepsi. Of course Pepsi reported them and they were arrested, helping to show why a credit check is justified when people are handling sensitive information.

In general, keeping track of the latest laws is something that some companies would prefer not to have to do when it comes to employee screening, they will often turn to companies that specialize in running employment background checks on their behalf. That can lower liability because the third party company will be a specialist in Georgia-specific checks.

General Requirements for Background Checks in Georgia:

Georgia does not specifically go beyond federal law in most cases when it comes to running background checks. One law that is very important to understand, however, is that if you do decide to do a specific type of background check and then use the information to disqualify the applicant, you need to ensure that you keep a record of that information and that you inform the applicant that your decision was based upon the specific information that you received.

The law is important because if you do learn something that you do not like and you use it to make a hiring decision and then tell the applicant that they were not accepted for some other reason, it could be a misdemeanor on your part. The law is known as: GA Code 35-3-34 (b).

Another Georgia-specific type of system dealing with background checks is based upon a law that requires employers to register with their online system in order to access an applicant’s criminal history. The system is known as the Georgia Applicant Processing System and can be used to run criminal history checks on applicants once an employer has registered. First Offender offenses will not appear on a background check, but employers can require that applicants self-disclose information for certain types of jobs.

 

For driving records, obtaining a history that goes back either 3 or 7 years for potential employees that will be driving is possible through the DMV.

What can be shown on a background check in Georgia?:

Georgia background checks show fairly basic information about the applicant’s history.

When doing a criminal background check, as per the state of Georgia the information that will be reported will be the applicant’s name, date of birth, social security number, sex, race, height and weight. Companies will also receive the name of the arresting agency, the date of the arrest, what the charges were, and what the outcome or disposition of each case was.

For driving records, the state of Georgia uses an ‘A’ to signify that the driver does not have any special requirements that go with the license. If there is not an ‘A’, there may be a circumstance like requires corrective lenses, so employers will not typically use that as a deciding factor. The same personal information that is included with a criminal record is also included on a driving record. In addition, driving infractions will be noted along with the date. It is worthwhile to remember that after 2 years, records of licenses that were suspended will be removed from the database.

Using credit reports in GA for screening:

If an employer hires in other states, they may want to develop an overall approach that fits every state regarding their use of credit reports. For Georgia, there is no current state law that covers credit reports, but there is a bill that is currently in front of the legislature that will mandate that credit reports may only be used for: managers, those who deal in managerial level company finance, and those employees that will have expense accounts.

Under current state law, there is nothing to preclude employers from running a credit report when hiring retail employees that will be handling cash on a regular basis. In practice, because a credit report can affect the applicant’s credit score, most companies are careful about the job types that they run a credit report for anyway.

Colorado


Background Checks in Colorado

Employers conduct employment background checks to verify the information supplied by applicants prior to hiring. A thorough background check protects the company’s reputation and provides a safer work environment for all employees. Employers have the responsibility of ensuring the safety of current and future employees and protecting the company’s reputation and well-being. Even though all states must adhere to federal regulations regarding pre-employment screening checks, most states have their own restrictions and requirements. Employers in Colorado recognize the importance of conducting background checks on potential future employees. It should be one of the most important parts of the entire hiring process.

Criminal Background Check Laws in Colorado

Job applicants in Colorado must supply certain information such as date of birth, social security number and address on a job application. The potential employee’s information is researched for criminal court records, terrorist databases, sex offender lists and FBI wanted lists. It is legal in the state of Colorado to obtain information regarding possible criminal acts committed by the applicant. The time limit is seven years. All court records including misdemeanor and felony records are checked.

Professions with Specific Requirements for Background Checks in CO

Educators

Criminal background checks must be conducted for all prospective employees in public and private education. The checks must include information regarding any charges of child abuse or endangerment, neglect, sexual offenses or any other felony. A background check for any educational professional cannot be more than two years old.

Medical Personnel

All applicants for positions in the medical professions in Colorado must submit to a criminal background check similar to educators. This includes individuals working in hospitals, medical clinics and nursing home.

 

Colorado Laws Regarding Credit Information Checks

Employers in Colorado cannot consider information regarding credit when making employment decisions unless the information is relevant for the position being considered. The report must be linked to the potential position before the credit information can be used. If credit information is directly related to the potential position, it can be a deciding factor in the employment process. If the report indicates any irregularities, the applicant must be allowed to explain.

Employees of Banks and Financial Institutions

In Colorado, employers are required by law to conduct a credit check for potential employees in this industry. They are also subject to criminal background checks. There are no exceptions to this law. The information obtained from the credit report must be directly related to the potential job.

Management Personnel and Federal Contractors

Executives and management personnel are exceptions to the law that prohibits employers from using consumer credit information as a basis for hiring, firing or making a compensation adjustment. The credit standing, credit capacity and credit history are examined through credit background checks for contractors involved in defense or national security.

 

The state of Colorado wants to help employers make informed decisions when hiring new employees. Colorado understands the importance of helping employers obtain criminal background records quickly, while maintaining accuracy. The state maintains a central records archive containing criminal conviction data. Because many applicants misrepresent information or try to embellish their resumes, conducting a criminal background check helps employers eliminate those who provide false information.

Background check reports help employers validate important information regarding education and prior employment prior to hiring. The information obtained from various sources will help employers by sending up a red flag if discrepancies are found. Colorado has found that comprehensive background checks reduce hiring liability by eliminating unqualified potential employees. Workplace theft rates have been reduced along with violence and excessive absenteeism. Insurance companies even give companies discounts because of background check requirements of the state.

Background checks in Colorado enable employers to verify the credentials of all potential employees. It takes the guesswork out of the hiring process and allows for more informed hiring decisions. When all employees are properly screened prior to hiring, the entire organization benefits. Criminal background checks protect the employer and the employees from potential problems that can arise.

Illinois



 

Looking for a job? Chances are that the firm that is considering hiring you will conduct a background check to make sure that you are “safe” to hire– e.g. you have no criminal record. This article will look at the details of employment background checks conducted in Illinois.

Eligibility for Employment in Illinois

IL is an employment “at will” state meaning that employment can be terminated at any time by either the employer or employee– although the employer cannot discharge an employee based on race, age, sex, or disability. Generally, one must be at least 16 years of age to be employed. Exceptions are granted to minors– specifically 14 and 15 year-old– working in non-hazardous professions and only working during non-school hours. Professions deemed hazardous include ones that may seem less than obvious such as working at an ice-skating rink or bowling alley.

Drug Screening

There is no law that requires nor prohibits employers from conducting a drug screening in Illinois. Many may fall prey to the misconception that the Illinois Drug Free Workplace Act enforces a drug test; rather, it simply states that workplaces must be free from drugs. If one is to do drugs off the job, they don’t fit this provision. This law applies to employers with 25 or more employees, and mirrors a federal law called the Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988.

Employers that qualify under the Illinois Drug Free Workplace Act must:

  • publish a statement announcing the drug free workplace policy
  • post and distribute the notice/statement to all employees involved in contract or grant work with the state/ federal government
  • establish a drug free awareness program to inform employees of potential penalties, available counseling, and dangers of drug use in the workplace
  • notify the contracting or granting agency of any criminal drug convictions of employees
  • impose penalties or require employees to complete a rehabilitation program in response to any such convictions
  • assist employees if drug 5 counseling, treatment and rehabilitation are required
  • make a good faith effort at maintaining a drug free workplace.

Background Screening in Illinois

In Illinois, employers may consider prior convictions when making employment decisions. However, use of arrest information or sealed or expunged convictions is prohibited. As long as a firm gets permission from the subject who is being checked, said firm can obtain criminal background checks from either a private firm or the IL state police. Background screenings can be made required in order to advance in the employment process.

If one is a non-licensed health care worker providing direct care to patients in Illinois, they are required to have criminal background checks performed by the Illinois State Police. The same rule of conducting criminal background checks applies to individuals applying for positions involving direct, daily contact with students anywhere within a school district in Illinois.

Medical and Psychiatric Exams for Determination of Employment

Medical and psychiatric exams can be used to screen applicants to see if they would be able to perform the position in question safely and efficiently. However, under no circumstances may such an exam discriminate against an applicant with disabilities. A safeguard against discrimination occurring has become the implementation of such a test only after a position has already been offered. In other words, employments at that point is conditional upon passing the test of ability. As long as the applicant can perform the conditions of the job safely and efficiently either with or without reasonable accommodation, an employer may not discriminate based upon disability.

If an employer uses medical and psychiatric exams, they must use them on all applicants. Additionally, they must come last in terms of all other types of screening used– this is also separately required by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Employers must make reasonable accommodations when appropriate, and take all necessary steps to keep medical information confidential. This includes medical examinations and test results. The doctor performing any medical examination should be informed of the precise nature and demands of the position so that they can examine the applicant in terms of the specific job requirements.

Other Laws and Screenings

Illinois used to be a state in which one could be screened for employment in terms of credit score. However, in 2010, then IL Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law that prohibited such a practice. There are certain exceptions to this rule, which include positions in which bonding or security is required per state or federal law, where there is unsupervised access to more than $2,500, signatory power over businesses assets of more than $100, management or control over the business, and access to personal, financial or confidential information, trade secrets, or state or national security information. If an employer does request a credit check, the page on which the job applicant signs must only concern the credit check– e.g. nothing else extraneous may be on the page.

Outside of Illinois, credit checks have been fairly popular in practice, with over 60 per cent of employers doing one in some regard.

North Carolina


North Carolina Background Checks

As far as criminal background checks go, North Carolina carries a slightly easier system than many states. While North Carolina is lighter than most states, many professions still require that an employee screening be done prior to employment.

What Professions Require Background Checks in North Carolina?

There a multitude of professions in NC that require a criminal check by the state. These positions include anyone applying to:

• Hospitals
• Nursing homes
• Mental health facilities
• Home care agencies
• Day care facilities
• Child Placement agencies
• Substance abuse facilities
• Any for profit or non profit institution that provides care to children, the sick, disabled or senior citizens.

While an employee background check is required for all of these positions, it is important to note that the employer cannot just start a background check. All employers are required by North Carolina state law to gain consent from prospective employees prior to starting a background check. Any employee that does not want a background check does not have to be employed.

What to consider before doing NC Employment Screening

There are a few things to consider when employers conduct a background check. These include the level of a particular crime. Was it a felony? How serious was the crime? How frequently did it occur? The employer must also consider when the crime occurred and how old the potential employee was when the crime was committed. On top of this, it is important to take into consideration the circumstances surrounding a potential crime and why the future employee might have committed the crime.

Even if an applicant has committed a serious crime, it is not enough to prevent them from getting the job. The employer has to consider a number of factors and if it is deemed acceptable, the applicant may still be hired. If the employee is not hired, the employer has the right to tell the applicant why they were barred from the job, but they are not allowed to show the applicant the criminal record they obtained.

Applicants are protected by two separate laws regarding employment screening. The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides protection to applicants that may have been the victim of inaccurate criminal records. Many employers hire a third-party organization to handle the employment screening.

Do Applicants in NC have to disclose Expunged Convictions?

In North Carolina, it is not required for applicants to let employers know about expunged crimes and employers are not permitted to ask if an applicant has had any crimes expunged from their record. If these expunged crimes are uncovered during a background check, it can greatly hinder one’s ability to get hired.

Laws for Nurses, Barbers and Other Professionals in NC

Depending on what type of job one is applying for, the background check laws differ. Whether it be a teacher, nurse, doctor, or barber, North Carolina separates the laws regarding employment based on the type of job and licensing board that the job reports with and oversees. According to law 115C-296, the North Carolina State Board of Education is prohibited from hiring anyone with a criminal record.

The same thing applies to the nursing occupation. Any nurse that has committed a crime that the state views as making them incapable of being a competent nurse can be barred from being hired.

Barbers also face a similar dilemma when looking for jobs, albeit one that is more strict. Barbers may be refused a job if they have committed any felony at all. Their employers do not have to consider what the felony was or the circumstances surrounding that felony at all. The barber law can be viewed at the following website.

Credit Checks in NC for Prospective employees

North Carolina also has a unique view on potential employee background credit checks. North Carolina passed a law that banned the use of credit checks in determining one’s eligibility to be hired or fired. This limits any employer’s use of an employees’ credit as a basis for hiring.

North Carolina is overall a friendly state for employees and potential hires. By preventing employers from seeing expunged crimes and establishing two solid laws that protect prospective employees. Employers are forced to consider the circumstances surrounding a crime unlike in other states where this is not required. North Carolina remains a spot that is great to be a potential hire even if a potential criminal record exists.