HONOLULU (KHON2) — Getting a new tenant or even a new roommate has its risks, as seen in recent violent incidents. KHON2 News spoke with experts on what you can do to prevent becoming a victim.
Matthew Smith faces multiple counts of attempted murder for allegedly stabbing three roommates in their Hawaii Kai home earlier this month.
Police said Smith attacked them with a steak knife after an argument about food. Property managers told KHON2 this case brings up the importance of vetting tenants before they move in. And there are various resources online like a program called AppFolio.
Paet said the criminal background is the most important one if you’re worried about safety and there are also resources from the state like ecourt kokua and ecrim.
He added that the information is not just helpful for landlords. People who are about to get a new roommate might want to do the research also.
Paet said it’s a good idea to talk to the applicant’s past landlords and check for references, but go beyond the people mentioned by the applicant.
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Paet said to stay away from anyone who wants to pay cash upfront and wants to move in right away. Also, an applicant who can’t provide any references should automatically be a red flag.
“Because even someone new coming to the islands has references,” he said.
He adds that landlords have to be very careful though when they provide a reason for turning down a tenant. There are strict laws against discrimination.
“The Federal Fair Housing Act precludes discrimination on many different levels. So we have to be very careful about what we say, what type of information we process,” said Paet.