These days over 80 percent of Americans are using social media. Between friends, exes, and coworkers as social media contacts you probably already vet your posts to some degree. And you are probably careful of what you post because of how it could affect your offline life. Whether it is a potential employer checking Linkedin or even a government official asking for social media profile access, your online presence matters.

More often these days social media platforms have become part of your “resume” and now, there’s a new area of life being affected by your online activity – your ability to rent the perfect place.

Why Renters Should Be Cautious Using Social Media

There are 100+ million renters in the United States and if you are one of them, it is important to note that some landlords and property management companies are now using social media as another way of narrowing down rental property candidates.

When the rental market is tight, landlords will use a number of benchmarks to screen potential renters in order to consider a smaller list of renters for their property. The savviest renters know to prepare a rental resume and are aware of criteria like credit score and rental history. It is a good idea to have an understanding of what criteria a landlord is looking for to help boost your chances of being approved. Now social media has been added to the mix.

What are landlords looking for exactly?

It is true that they cannot use social media to pass judgment on applicants in ways that violate Federal Fair Housing Laws, they can evaluate all potential renters equally to see if an applicant’s social media reputation reveals dangerous or violent behavior, or reveals information that shows inconsistencies with the rental application, like lack of employment or a status about getting evicted.

Most things to avoid fall into the common sense category and are very similar to the screen you might employ while looking for a new job. Here are some things that send up the red flag:

  • Offensive or violent content
  • Anything related to criminal activity, such as drug use
  • Complaints about past property managers or landlords
  • Photos of you and your pet (if the rental restricts pets)

Landlords say that they like to check social media platforms to get a better sense of who they are going to be renting their property to. Landlords take a risk when renting and a bad resident can cost them a lot financially and they like to use social media screening as another layer to ensure a good resident-manager relationship.

Make your social media work for you

Since your potential landlord is likely checking your social account, use that knowledge to highlight why you’d be a good renter! Linkedin can show steady employment history and help confirm employment status; Facebook can help give a sense of lifestyle; Twitter can show unique interests and conversations, to name a few. You never know what might tip the scales in your favor and land you in a new place.