Data shows that 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide in 2020. If you are one of them, you probably know that you have to be careful what you post because it can affect your life — whether it is a potential employer checking your Linkedin or Twitter profile, or even government officials asking for social media profile access. These pervasive platforms have become part of your “resume” in a significant way — including affecting your ability to rent a home.
While it isn’t as disturbing as being spied on by big brother, property management companies are now using social media as another filter in narrowing down rental property applicants. In a tight rental market, landlords will use a number of benchmarks to screen potential tenants in order to come up with a smaller list to consider for the property. Traditional criteria include things like credit score and rental history. Now social media is part of the mix.
“We know that property managers and landlords need ways to narrow down lists of applicants to get the very best tenants in their property,” said Nathan Miller, founder of property management software company, Rentec Direct. “Our system automatically pulls social media profiles based on applicant email addresses to help give managers one more point to consider when screening tenants.”
So what are landlords looking for exactly? Most things fall into the common sense category and are similar to the screen one might employ while looking for a job. After all, a renter is entering into a professional contract with his or her landlord. Here are just a few things that might send up the red flag:
- Overly opinionated or offensive content
- Violent content
- Anything related to criminal activity, such as drug use
- Inappropriate images
- Complaints about past landlords
Miller continued, “As a landlord myself, social media just helps me get a better sense of who I am renting my property to. Any real estate investor knows that a bad tenant can cost you not only financially but also emotionally. Avoiding this from the outset is important and social media screening is just one more layer to ensure a good tenant-landlord relationship.”
But social media can also be used to find out the good stuff, so individuals shouldn’t be afraid of participating. Linkedin can show a steady employment history and help confirm employment status; Facebook can help give a sense of lifestyle; Twitter can show unique interests and conversations, just to name a few. With rent being the largest payment of each month for most people, it’s important to have a good relationship between tenant and property manager, and social platforms can be a powerful way to build positive connections.
Social media isn’t going anywhere, that much is clear. Platforms are innovating with new ways to share short, “snackable” content across the board. People are going to continue to participate. Property managers will use this filter more and more to “weed out” potential applicants as technology platforms become more advanced, and renters will need to consider what their profiles say about them as tenants.