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Why a Background Check?
A background check or background investigation is the process of looking up and compiling criminal records, commercial records and financial records of an individual or an organization. Background checks are often requested by employers on job candidates for employment screening, especially on candidates seeking a position that requires high security or a position of trust.. These checks are traditionally used as a means of objectively evaluating a candidate’s qualifications, character, fitness, and to identify potential hiring risks for safety and security reasons. Frequently, checks are conducted to confirm information found on an employment application or résumé, or curriculum vitae. Varying information can be obtained in background investigations reports. Generally, the amount of information included in a particular background check depends to a large degree on the sensitivity of the reason for which the investigation is conducted.
When a homeowners association hires an employee, such as a security guard who carries a firearm, or a manager or director who is given authority to access the association’s bank accounts, or workers who are given access to the units or homes, the association has a duty to make a reasonable investigation of the employee’s or director’s background. Courts have held that a landlord has a duty to exercise due care in hiring employees, particularly when they can potentially cause substantial harm and that, although an employer is not vicariously liable for employees’ torts if they are not committed within the scope of the employment, it can be liable for negligence in hiring the employee. The same can hold true for a homeowners association.
A homeowners association must take greater care in hiring an employee, manager, or independent contractor who has access to the homeowners’ units or homes, or to the association’s funds. The board should order a thorough check of the person’s background to ensure the person’s reliability and stability. The board should have an objective basis for verifying that the person in question can and will responsibly perform their duties. Most associations lack the resources, personnel or expertise to ensure that the people they are dealing with can be trusted without performing some type of background investigation.
Types of Background Checks
The are many types of background investigations that can be obtained. The most common investigations that a homeowners association would employ are criminal, arrest, incarceration, sex offender, and legal working status. These valuable reports would typically be used to investigate a homeowners association’s:
- Independent contractors and their employees
- Management company personnel
- Candidates for board of directors
- Prospective tenants as a condition of lease approval