A corner of the private investigation market is larger than ever in 2022 – working with landlords and property management. Landlords are more focused on security than ever before, and deeply invested in finding reliable, safe tenants for their properties. That has many of them turning to PIs for help – and in the process, opens up new opportunities for PIs looking for reliable work. Let’s take a look at what’s driving this trend, and how PIs are working with property management services.
Tenant screening is the thorough process of investigating the background of someone applying for a rental. It’s an expected practice for landlords to arrange a screening when choosing new tenants. Typically, this involves a background check to look for any kind of criminal record, as well as a credit check to get a third-party review of the tenant’s financial situation. This can provide skilled investigators with steady work, especially in areas that are seeing a lot of property development and other types of growth that indicate a growing rental market.
Finding Ways to Recover Rent
If things go poorly, tenants may skip out on rent and leave without the landlord having any idea where they went. Landlords interested in recovering that rent can turn to PIs who specialize in finding people and researching assets. If the landlord can prove that the tenant has the funds to pay missing rent, they may be able to successfully sue for it and have it seized. PIs are invaluable in putting together the required evidence and tracking down tenants in person if necessary. This particular service saw plenty of growth around the COVID-19 pandemic as rent freezes expired and landlords found that tenants were not resuming payments.
Investigating Property Crimes
Other landlords or property management services may want activities on rental properties investigated. There may be minor crimes such vandalism or other issues that can be difficult to get the police to investigate, and landlords will want to find answers on their own. Or landlords may suspect that other types of crimes are occurring on the property and would like to collect evidence before going to the police. Sometimes they may want investigators to track down stolen property, or record a tenant doing something illegal, such as renting out additional rooms in a home against the contract they signed. PI surveillance is a powerful tool in situations like these.
PIs may also have an edge in cases like these because they can receive direct permission from the owner of the property to access it in certain ways – although things like the tenant’s property remain off limits.
Landlords can’t always be near their properties to carry out some tasks. While certain jobs can be outsourced, others may require an in-person expert. That’s why we also see landlords hiring PIs for jobs like documenting properties or going through and photographing the state of a rental along with making notes so that the landlord has plenty of evidence of what the rental looks like before tenants come and can prove tenant damage if necessary.
Arranging Security Services
If private investigators also offer security services, then landlords may want to hire them to monitor a specific property. For example, if a property has been broken into before while tenants were at work, landlords may want to hire a private investigator to guard the property for a week and see if they can collect any evidence about who may be trying to break in.
Landlords are invested in keeping their properties safe, pleasant, and livable. Sometimes neighbors can make that a problem: If neighbors are being regularly disruptive or breaking the law, it can cut the revenue that landlords expect to make from a property and increase vacancy times. Since it’s difficult for a landlord to be there frequently in person, they may hire a private investigator to collect evidence about neighbors and their activities. This evidence can be presented to an HOA or law enforcement, another task that investigators can help with when the time comes.
Advice on Security
A landlord may also be interested in a consultation regarding security. They may want to know where they can legally put cameras in a rental property, for example, or if they are allowed to record conversations with tenants. PIs with experience in the legal side of surveillance can offer recommendations and outline a security plan for the landlord.
When advertising for landlords and related property businesses, remember that location is key. Clients will often want someone familiar with the area, and in some cases a person who is able to visit the property in person. It’s also a good idea to highlight your own work with surveillance as well as screening processes, plus any financial experience you have when it comes to researching bank accounts and other sources of funds.
Finally, while we discussed landlord services here, keep in mind that tenants may also be looking for private investigators themselves. Tenants may want to gather proof that a landlord is being negligent or lying, for example. If you are marketing your property-related services, you may want to offer help to both sides.