AgentRentals

Using Facebook as a screening tool

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Q: When I screen potential tenants, I talk to their current landlord and their employer, ask for references, and order a credit report. Some of the landlords in town are also regularly looking on the Internet, to see if the applicant blogs, has a Facebook page, and so on. One friend told me that when he looked at the Facebook page of an applicant he was about to rent to, he saw that the person is really into partying and drinking. My friend didn't rent to him. Should I be looking at Facebook pages, too? --David R. A: Your question calls for two answers: a legal one and a practical one. From a legal point of view, should you be checking applicants' Internet postings? And, from a practical point of view, is it a good idea? The steps you've been taking when screening tenants are the tried-and-true methods that careful landlords have been using for years to weed out risky applicants: those whose past actions indicate that they may not pay the rent or may not be considerate resi...