How to Screen a Tenant: The New Free Statewide Case Search

A seemingly small change in the Kentucky Courts website can make a big difference in doing applicant background checks. Previously it had been possible to check on current cases using the (free) public information on the courts.ky.gov website – except that you had to search county-by-county. For some reason a statewide search option wasn’t available.

Now it is. Without any fanfare, a “statewide” option has been added to the drop-down of county selections. In fact, it is now the default choice.

Why is this important? First, Kentucky has 120 counties – more than it probably should, and definitely more counties per capita than any state. This made county-by-county searches very difficult. With such small counties, bad tenants tend to drift back-and-forth across county lines when things get too “hot” for them in one county. They tend not to go far, but for example there are about 10 counties in my area I typically find them moving around in – that’s a lot of counties to search through. Now I can cover all 120 counties in a single search – more effective and far less time.

The limitations to keep in mind: while you can now search all counties in a single search, this is still only a search of current, active cases. This will not help you find out if they’ve been convicted of drug dealing two years ago, for instance. What it will help you find is if they are currently being evicte

Tenant screening, background check, background search, tenant background check

Searching just got better. Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

d, or have current criminal charges. If you think about it, these are the people most likely to be desperately trying to look like a good prospect for you. Their life is in turmoil, they are on the run, etc. They will apply to rent at several places looking for that weak link who lets them slip through; but now if they have a currently active civil or criminal case in Kentucky, you can find it in a few seconds.

You need the complete (not free) background check from the state to find those past cases that are now closed, but before you spend the money do this free search first and you may find something that let’s you know you need to look no further.

The direct address for this search is http://kcoj.kycourts.net/CourtRecords/Search.aspx

Keep in mind that just because a person’s name is associated with a case it doesn’t necessarily mean they are accused of doing something wrong; a complaining witness or plaintiff will show up in these searches as well. That means a person could be the victim of a crime, or someone owes them money. If they do turn up, you’ll want to carefully look at the case title to make sure they are a defendant (also there is a search setting where you can limit the search to only defendants) and not another party such as witness or plaintiff.

Finally, of course, this is just one small part of tenant screening. There are several other articles on kylandlords.com dealing with tenant screening you might want to get familiar with as well.

Category: Property Management, Tenant Screening

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