Are Your Next Tenants Tweeting About their Bad Behavior?

Tenant screening is an art. You want to follow consistent, economically relevant criteria, but you also want to know if your prospective tenant is likely to be disruptive, destructive, or hard to deal with. For these soft checks, you can Google your prospective tenant. To get an even more detailed view, search for their name on twitter.

As this New York Times author points out in “What My Landlord Learned About Me From Twitter,” some landlords are now asking to be saved the burden of searching. They want tenants to give them their twitter handles and other social media identifiers on the application.

On the one hand, this exposes landlords to possible claims about discrimination. Suppose the tenant has tweeted about their active attendance at a mosque, and the landlord views their twitter account prior to declining the application. Was the tenant’s religious affiliation part of the landlord’s decision to decline? That would be discrimination.

On the other hand, checking twitter can provide valuable fact checking opportunities. Maybe the tenant seemed nice to you during the tour, but they have been tweeting rude things about you. Or maybe they told you they don’t have a pet, but they posted a selfie with their boa constrictor. If you can see problems on the horizon, wouldn’t it be nice to take another economically qualified tenant?

You don’t need to start “doing” Twitter to search. You will need to create an account. Do that one easy step, and a world of discovery may await.

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