Claude Bookout is President of United Investigations International, a private investigations firm located in Austin, Texas. ( Texas license number: C9472

Blog updated monthly.

United International Investigations is an experienced private investigations firm with a reputation for integrity, dependability, and thoroughness. The firm provides its clients with a broad range of investigative assistance. Corporations, law firms, and prominent individuals have relied on its professional team of investigators to obtain power and control over their particular situations.

Private eyes can help resolve your rental problems

A recent Newsweek article shows that, not surprisingly, U.S. apartment rental companies are seeing a surge in new tenants. On the negative side, this is a result of the large number of foreclosures over the past few years. On the positive side, this is partly due to an improved job market and an increasing number of folks feeling confident that they no longer need to share living arrangements with colleagues, friends, and family. (Here’s an interesting article on the topic: “Apartment rentals surge…,” Businessweek.

Due to the combination of this “surge,” cheap foreclosed properties, and record low interest rates, many existing rental companies are expanding their enterprises. Also, there are many new landlord-entrepreneurs entering the market by purchasing properties on the cheap and converting them into rental units. With overburdened established enterprises and fledgling new owners trying to keep up with the demand, the propensity toward poor management (e.g. rules are not enforced and the community deteriorates), fraud, discrimination, and deceptive practices should increase. These potential issues are not only cause for personal concern, but more often than not are regulated by law. For example, the federal Fair Housing Act and Fair Housing Amendments Act (Title 42, Chapter 25 U.S. Code §§ 3601-3619, 3631) prohibit landlords from choosing tenants on the basis of race, religion, ethnic background or national origin, sex, familial status, or a mental or physical disability. For problems that may not be generally regulated by state or federal statutes (such as dealing with lazy managers who do not fix problems), collective or individual civil action may be possible..

In cases of egregious violations of law or on matters of personal health or financial safety, hiring a private investigator to deal with tenant-rental company problems can be a wise decision. Obviously, a private investigator should not be hired for simple problems or misunderstandings. For purposes of mediation or arbitration, however, a competent private investigator can initiate an investigation of property safety by surveying a property and provide an objective opinion about the area’s general day-to-day activities and the operations of the rental management company. If you feel you’ve been discriminated against either as a tenant or as a potential tenant, a private investigator can set up an undercover investigation or use a wide range of data sources (many of which are only available to licensed private investigators) and knowledge to locate and interview others who have been involved with a particular company or manager.

While an internet search of “rental complaints” would suggest that there are many shady companies out there, we tend to believe that most are pretty good. However, you should have peace of mind when you do decide to rent. For renters who are moving to a new area and don’t have an opportunity to check out a rental property in advance, a private investigator can do a thorough security analysis of the neighborhood as well as send other types of objective documentation (e.g., photographs, video, and current tenant testimonials). While rental consultants and real estate agents are good at what they do, many of them receive a commission from property management companies. Obviously, this reduces their objectivity. Regardless of your current location, if you are considering renting a house or apartment from a new “entrepreneur-landlord,” it is recommended you conduct a background check on him or her. While this may seem strange, it is appropriate for two reasons. First, it is likely that she or he will do a credit check on you. Likewise, you should know who you’re dealing with. Does the landlord have poor credit rating or a criminal record? Would you feel comfortable renting from him or her if she or he does? While this will likely require consent from the property owner, he or she should not mind adding this addendum to the contract. In some circumstances, he or she may even be willing to absorb the cost of this report to obtain you as a tenant.

There are numerous other reasons you may need a private investigator as a renter. The best advice we can give is this: if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Many private investigators offer free initial telephone consultations so there is no reason you should be hesitant to call one. If your particular situation doesn’t warrant a private investigator, he or she will let you know. Chances are pretty good that the investigator will know someone who can help you. In other words, one phone call could save you a lot of time.

Thinking of renting? Need help resolving a problem with your current landlord? Please visit our website for more information about our company and give us a call.