Researching Tenants on Social Media

By Ashley Paskill on May 14, 2022

When trying to find tenants to rent your property, you do not want to just bring anyone in. You want to be sure you get good tenants who are reliable and responsible. It is likely that you are already using social media to market your properties and engage with tenants, but you can also use it to research tenants on social media. While you do not want to stalk them and look at things they have set as private, seeing what is on their public pages can help you get a better picture of who they are and how they portray themselves.

Benefits

While looking up every tenant on social media seems daunting, being able to find tenants’ posts can help determine their personality. For example, if a tenant is posting about awards and organizations they are involved with, it is likely they are going to be a good tenant. However, if they are posting things that feel a bit sketchy to you and your standards, you do not have to bring them in.

Aside from personality, you will be able to see how they are as tenants. You will be able to see if they have pets that are unaccounted for or are unapproved and even see how they treated previous rental properties. You will be able to compare and verify what is said on the application. It is possible that tenants will lie on the application, but when you look at their social media accounts, you find differing information. This saves you time and money down the road.

You will be able to see posts by students who may have thought negatively of a previous landlord and made it a point to post across social media about how awful the experience was. While posts can be deleted, many do not get deleted and social media can be damaging to your reputation. If you do not feel comfortable with this, you can choose to not sign a lease with that particular applicant.

Image: picjumbo.com via https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-iphone-showing-social-networks-folder-607812/

Risks

Social media can be a good way to determine if a tenant is a good fit, but tenants may post things that go beyond what matters in being a good tenant. You are unable to use things such as political beliefs, religion, and life choices to determine if they are going to be a good fit for you and your property. If you are unable to separate these things, you may want to avoid social media screening altogether.

On a similar note, if you find out tenants are part of a protected class and you do not offer them the rental unit, you may be susceptible to lawsuits. If you are basing your decision on non-discriminatory criteria and you apply this across all potential tenants, make sure these things are well documented to help keep you out of legal, and financial, trouble.

You may find that not every tenant is on social media, and if they are on social media, they may not have an active account on each platform. They may even have their privacy settings high to protect themselves. This makes it harder to screen tenants this way since people do not always post everything. Even if they have accounts, they may only post things that will make them look good and avoid posting anything negative.

What to look for

Researching tenants is not a surefire way to catch every bad tenant out there, you can tell who is responsible or not based on what is posted and how much of a “filter” they have on their posts. Someone who is constantly posting about the work they do and awards they have received is likely a good tenant. However, potential tenants who post about parties they go to every weekend may not be as careful about things. Look to see if the potential tenant has done anything you deem sketchy in the past.

Have a list of things you want to look out for on social media. Each social media site is different and tenants will post certain kinds of content on each platform. For example, LinkedIn is more of a professional site, so you can use it for employment verification. Facebook and Instagram are more for pictures and personal things, so you will be able to see if there are potential pets they did not disclose on the application.

General tips

Trust your instinct. If you feel like a tenant is not a good fit for you and your property, move on to the next tenant. Look only at public social media accounts instead of friending or following private tenant accounts to do research. Make sure you are using social media in other ways as well.

Social media has several uses for you as a property manager, including for screening purposes, so it is important that you take advantage of these uses as much as possible.

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