Crime and Rental Properties
Humacao | September 20, 2009 at 07:41 pmby
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Here’s the problem as I see it:
If in fact the featured landlord is correct and these criminals send in an individual without a criminal record to apply for an apartment how will a more detailed criminal background check solve the current problem?
Perhaps what these landlords should do is pay closer attention to the tenants in their apartments and the day-to-day activity going on in those apartments. Encourage other tenants to setup a tenant watch by offering a decrease in their rent for participating. Install security cameras within the complex and the vestibules. Hire security. Make your complex a gated community, which would force visitors to check in, therefore creating an accountability system so you know who is visiting whom within your complex.
Deal with behavior that is detrimental to the safety and comfort of your tenants in a swift and harsh manner, but be fair and consistent. Your tenant’s history is important, but not nearly as important as their current status.
Just because someone does not have a criminal record does not mean they will make a great potential tenant. I can’t count how many times in the past few months people have made the 6 0’Clock news for crimes of moral turpitude yet upon their being hired, or accepted to an apartment community their criminal background and credit check came back clean as a whistle.
So bottom line is, checking someone’s credit or criminal history (at least in this day and age) is not a guarantee that you’re getting a responsible, law-abiding tenant.
I grew up in one of the toughest housing projects in the South Bronx during a time when gangs ran amok. No, it wasn’t nearly as tough back then (the 70’s) as it is now, but there was crime and times were dangerous. We had to deal with angel dust dealers, the Zulu-Nation, The Five Percenters, The Latin Kings and other gangs. We had thieves and purse-snatchers. We had drug addicts committing crimes and terrorizing tenants, but we also had tenants that didn’t play that.
The majority of the people that lived in my building were good, hard-working, family-oriented people. We cleaned graffiti off of our walls almost as soon as it went up. Our parents and older siblings ran off the riff-raft and “handled” others that made trouble for us. Everyone watched out for the children as they played or walked to and from school. Everyone knew you.
My mother along with other mothers in the building formed a tenant association and a tenant watch in the buildings. They kept the criminal element and undesirables out of our buildings. If you did not live there and were not going to visit someone in the building, you weren’t allowed in.
We kept our elevators clean and intercom systems working. I can remember having to mop and sweep the hallways. Our hallways did not have trash piled up. The hoodlums respected our boundaries and kept their activities in the streets or back alleys.
My point? The neighbors took a stance to keep their community safe and crime free. They took the age-old adage “It takes a village” literally. They looked out for the children of their neighbors. Parents taught their children to respect their elders and held them accountable for their bad behavior.
Yes, I’m sure people had criminal records back then, but if they were committing acts of crime or doing drugs or anything else immoral, they didn’t do it in the building they lived in and we didn’t know of it. Everyone makes mistakes in life and with the way our criminal justice system operates today, there’s a higher probability that renters are going to have some kind of criminal activity in their file.
If you are arrested – not convicted- arrested for a crime, it goes on your record and does not come off even if the case is dismissed, charges unfounded or you’re acquitted. This follows you through your life until you can hire an attorney to petition the Governors office to clear your record.
If you cannot do this, you’re stuck with trying to explain and in the meantime, you’re being denied employment and, now, a place to live. In a world where legislatures tell us “You’re innocent until proven guilty,” I would wholeheartedly agree that this is very unfair.
A more thorough criminal background check won’t help you weed out undesirables anymore than a credit check will ensure that your tenant won’t trash your apartment/house, break the lease or pay you on time every month. All of these things just give us a false sense of security.
By A. Cruz
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