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Background checks on boarders? Discuss

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  • Background checks on boarders? Discuss

    Saw this thread on the Stable Management Web site, which got me thinking.

    Pros? Well, as a former BM and BO in two different facilities, I've seen good boarders and bad boarders. I've had boarders cancel checks on me, had boarders sneak out or try to sneak out (catching that one was fun, esp since the BO who moved her broke my gate with her trailer), constantly late, dump horses, etc. In retrospect, a background check may or may not have prevented some of the issues, because a person not paying their electricity bill isn't going to have a problem not paying you take care of his/her horse either. As a boarder, it lets me know that the BO/BM is a keen business person, professional, and that the other boarders in the barn have passed the same check. This is, in a sense, reassuring, in that I can feel more comfortable that my board won't suffer/go up/barn close, because conceivably the BO won't be supporting other peoples' horses.

    Cons? Honestly, I can't think of ANY as a boarding facility. As a boarder, I would not have a problem consenting to one because I understand the business side of things and I know I'm sparkly clean. It's a business, just like renting an apartment, and you have credit checks for those too.

    Thoughts? DH and I have future plans to board when he retires in four years. I had already thought of doing this; due to my job I am more, ermm, suspicious of my fellow man , but I also think it's just good business sense.
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl

  • #2
    There are various levels of background checks.

    Checking for felony assault? I find that reasonable.

    Checking a credit score? I find it reasonable-ish, but I wouldn't consent to one.

    Here's why:

    1) Every time a credit check is run, it is my understanding that it hurts your credit. When I was getting ready to buy a house, I had great credit but I was told by my lender NOT to do any other credit checks til we closed--no store credit, no credit cards, car loans, nothing.

    2) I have (and this is personal but a matter of public record) gone through a foreclosure which has severely dented my credit. I probably could've avoided it had I not tried to keep my horses and my husband's house. I had the house on the market, bank wouldn't take a short sale, etc. I rehomed one horse right away when I knew I was going to have issues, but elected to keep my older mare. In this day and age, I'm not sure (based on my experience) that a poor credit score is indicative of someone who will not pay board. I made sure my board was paid even when I barely had a pot to pee in.

    I think a more effective way of screening boarders is to ask for references--even someone who has had to leave a barn in a bad situation as most of us have will have at least one barn we can use as a reference.

    I also think that getting first/last months' board plus a good contract so you've got an option to remedy or take action is wise.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...

    Comment


    • #3
      Might make good business sense, but if you're referring to a credit check, as a potential boarder I would be very hesitant to provide the type of information required (SS#, etc.) to someone I don't know.

      I can think of at least 3 barns I've boarded at where the BO turned out to be of dubious character and not above identity theft.

      That being said, I have no problem if a BO requests the names of my vets, farrier, etc. for a reference.

      Comment


      • #4
        I wouldn't consent to it as a potential boarder.

        I am an attorney who has passed the bar plus character and fitness in three states, and you can call a whole list of actual horse people/vets/trainers for references.

        If that's not enough, I'll kindly be moving on.
        The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
        Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
        Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
        The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

        Comment


        • #5
          I assume you're talking about a more in-depth background check, since you refer to credit scores?

          I have a fine credit score, but I would not agree to anything more than a criminal history check for a boarding barn. Frankly, I don't think it's any of your business what past financial trouble I may or may not have had. Credit reports don't always have entirely correct information on them, either.

          References and proof of earnings? Sure. Ask for a recent paystub or two. Offer multiple convenient ways to accept payment - credit card, paypal, EFT, autopay, whatever. When I boarded (horses are at home now), there were a few times I was a few days late - not because of lack of funds, but because I'm blonde (naturally!) and forgot to bring my checkbook with me.

          Comment


          • #6
            And frankly, there are more than a few whackadoos out there with very good credit.

            Comment


            • #7
              Well, the only thing we have on which to base future history is past history, correct?

              I've never been able to rent an apartment or get a mortgage or car loan without tons of verification and a credit check. Now if I recall correctly I've been able to rent storage spaces without tons of verification, but they don't wait a minute to put a lien on the contents and sell it off to recoup their losses.

              I do like that so much in the horse world is still done on the handshake, but reading on here about nutty BO's that won't turn off the heater etc etc sometimes I think we need something a little more structured? if that's the word for it. I wouldn't be bothered by a credit check etc, but I'd expect the BO to uphold the terms of the contract as well, or be willing to negotiate if I wanted to say, bring extra hay.
              Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
              Incredible Invisible

              Comment


              • #8
                I'd be a little put off if a BO wanted to run a credit check on me. With all the boarding horror stories we hear about fruitcake BOs I'd be more than hesitant to hand over my social security number.

                References I'm fine with. Call my vet, call my previous BO, heck call my landlord and even verify my employment if you like. Chat me up, feel me out all you want. Ask for my social to run a credit check? Ain't gonna happen. Too invasive especially when any number of barns down the street won't ask for the one piece of information that could most easily financially devastate me in the wrong hands.

                IMO there are plenty of other ways to feel out prospective boarders. I've been at the same barn 15 going on 16 years now, seen a lot of boarders come and go. Been involved in helping BO fill stalls a lot over that time. Just using common sense and trusting our intuition has resulted in us keeping the fruitbats and deadbeats out in all but one occasion, and in that one time we got stuck with a loon it was a time BO went against her gut.

                I'll also say that from watching how my BO selects her boarders I think, hands down, the number one way to avoid deadbeats and weirdos is to have good working relationships and lines of communication with other barns in the area.

                Being friendly with other local barn owners has saved my BO a heck of a lot more stress and boarder drama than any credit or background check ever could.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I can understand the reasoning for it, but like some of the previous posters, wouldn't be thrilled about having my SS# floating around. References from my vet and farrier should be enough. But ... when I first bought a horse I didn't have those. They've been developed over time.

                  OTOH, from what I've read here about some of the struggles that barns are experiencing, perhaps I should run a credit check on a potential BO. That could reduce the chances of running low on hay, shavings and some of the other problems we read about due to tight finances.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I would never consent. I'm not asking to borrow money, therefore a BO has no right to expect access to my credit score.Period.
                    I'm not an employee, or a volunteer, so they wouldn't get a criminal check either.

                    I am paying for a service - plain and simple.
                    Originally posted by ExJumper
                    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The only way I would consent to a background or credit check is if it is contracted through an agency that specializes in those things, so the BO in question would never get a hold of sensitive information like my SS#, etc. And even then it would annoy me.
                      "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BuddyRoo View Post
                        There are various levels of background checks.

                        Checking for felony assault? I find that reasonable.

                        Checking a credit score? I find it reasonable-ish, but I wouldn't consent to one.

                        Here's why:

                        1) Every time a credit check is run, it is my understanding that it hurts your credit. When I was getting ready to buy a house, I had great credit but I was told by my lender NOT to do any other credit checks til we closed--no store credit, no credit cards, car loans, nothing.

                        2) I have (and this is personal but a matter of public record) gone through a foreclosure which has severely dented my credit. I probably could've avoided it had I not tried to keep my horses and my husband's house. I had the house on the market, bank wouldn't take a short sale, etc. I rehomed one horse right away when I knew I was going to have issues, but elected to keep my older mare. In this day and age, I'm not sure (based on my experience) that a poor credit score is indicative of someone who will not pay board. I made sure my board was paid even when I barely had a pot to pee in.

                        I think a more effective way of screening boarders is to ask for references--even someone who has had to leave a barn in a bad situation as most of us have will have at least one barn we can use as a reference.

                        I also think that getting first/last months' board plus a good contract so you've got an option to remedy or take action is wise.
                        "Soft" inquiries, done by someone don't hurt your credit. Hard inquiries, to get a loan can hurt your credit if you have a lot within a 6 month period. And even then, there is some flexibility, like several mortgage inquires done within a couple of weeks won't affect it, because it allows for people to dhop for the best terms for a mortgage.
                        The reason a lender tells you not to get any inquiries on your credit when getting a mortgage is less about lowering your score (as it takes a lot of inquiries, to lower it and it will only lower the score by a couple of points), but more because every inquiry must be explained...They don't want someone who just qualified for a loan to go get a new car which now increases their monthly debt pmts, and may make them no longer qualify due to too high of a debt to income ratio.


                        And to the person concerned about giving someone personal info- There are websites that are secure, where the person applies online, and pays a 25.00 fee, and it sends the recipient JUST the creditr bureau and criminal background check, without showing SSAN's, personal info or acct numbers. (www.mysmartmove.com is one I use for my renters). But actually, BO's should have the SS numbers of boarders, because if they get stiffed, they can file a collection acct against a person so it will show up on their credit.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rainechyldes View Post
                          I would never consent. I'm not asking to borrow money, therefore a BO has no right to expect access to my credit score.Period.
                          I'm not an employee, or a volunteer, so they wouldn't get a criminal check either.

                          I am paying for a service - plain and simple.
                          When you rent a home, you aren't borrowing money either, but most landlords run credit checks. So do car insurance companies, and many employers.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I'll join the list of boarders who wouldn't be ok with giving up the info necessary to run a credit check. Even if the barn used a third party agency that specialized in credit stuff, I'd be taking my business elsewhere.

                            I think asking for references, security deposits, and having a strong boarding agreement is a much better way for BO to ensure they've got reliable boarders. Plus, a credit check aint gonna weed out the crazies...some of the nuttiest horse boarders I've ever come across paid their bills on time.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I say if the barns want to protect themselves from a boarder who is going to take off and owe them money, require a security deposit of at least one month's board. I don't think that is wholly unreasonable.

                              And I agree with making it more convenient to pay rather than requiring cash or check. I would love to be able to swipe my bank card for board and lessons.

                              And talk to a lawyer about reviewing your boarding contracts to determine the best possible way to protect yourself while still adhering to your local laws.

                              My last BO had a clause in her contract that allowed her to exercise a lien on the horse at any time, without the need for legal action and without notice to you - which was totally in violation of our States laws. I admittedly didn't see this tidbit when I signed it and I left due to an emergency situation and BO decided at that point to block my truck and trailer in the driveway, advise me that she's exercising her right to a lien and not allowing me to load my horse up until I pay her "what I still owe her". Then she started rattling off fees that she felt I owed her, that she never invoiced for or even mentioned in the months past the time they were incurred. I advised her that her issues are civil and would be addressed in small claims court but that she couldn't hold my property without due process. She produced her contract and said that I could. Needless to say, it was an ugly situation. Oddly, after that fiasco, I no sooner pulled out the driveway and she texted me asking if I was still coming to the barn's holiday party. So, crazy can come from both sides.

                              In hindsight on this BO, personal accounts I received after my event showed that this isn't the first time she'd done this. I did a google search on her and she came up squeaky clean. What I should have done was asked around and I would have gotten a better understanding of the type of horsewoman she is. So, I feel casting a wide word of mouth and requesting personal references would be a wise choice. Former BOs, trainers, farriers and vets. I would also advise potential boarders/clients that you do also exercise the right to contact other vets and horse professionals in the area to ask if you have been a client with them and whether you are current on your previous accounts and have a release to such in your contract or boarding application. This way, you're not dependent on references supplied by the potential client and you can inquire independently.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I will pay a one month's security deposit before I would give a BO access to my social security number and credit info. References and the rest I'm OK with. But my credit info (spotless) is absolutely none of their business!!

                                In fact, asking for sensitive personal identifying info (SS#) can open the BO up to a number of legal responsibilities. A number of states govern how this type of info should be safeguarded. And that extends to doing business with individuals who reside in those states, regardless of where the transaction takes place. So, BOs should consult an attorney before moving ahead.
                                Born under a rock and owned by beasts!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I would be fine with a criminal background check as I have nothing to hide and, If I were a BO, I'm not sure I'd want someone who had been convicted of a crime as a boarder (I wouldn't take a sex offender, for example, nor would I want to board with one as a horse owner.).

                                  Credit check, not OK. I'm not going to give my SSN to someone I don't know and isn't a known business/employer with a system in place to keep the info secure. If I were a BO, I'm not sure that the credit score is the best way to screen a boarder-of all I know, that unpaid electric bill was from a tight time when person paid horse's bills first.

                                  Reference checks? Heck yes. I would never have a problem providing them from previous boarding barn, vet, and/or employers. If I owned a barn, I would most certainly require and check them. IMO, they are much more likely to provide me with more accurate info about the actual situation at hand than a credit check anyway.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I would be OK with a barn calling references... but a full out background check? Probably not.

                                    What do you do with a potential boarder with NO credit? I'm well employed, educated and have never borrowed money, thus have NO credit. I have three nice horses who I always make sure have the best of everything -vet, farrier, feed, etc- but still no credit...

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Quite honestly I think such checks would be pretty useless. a) only because someone is financially well of now doesn't mean that will be the case in 3 months from now. Everybody can fall on hard times I've come across a beautiful horse here recently that allegedly had been sold in the mid five figures. Buyers paid for their trainer to come over and try it, 2.500 Euro vet check. Signed Bill of Sale. All good. No money came, something had happened and the prospective buyer had run out of funds... Same can happen to any of your boarders any time.
                                      I also think whether or not you're going to be paid your boarding fees has only marginally to do with the actual wealth or lack thereof of the customer. In my experience a boarder who is willing to pay their dues will find a way to do so whether they actually have the money or not. On the other hand: Only because someone has a full bank account doesn't mean they're going to keep their account balanced on a monthly basis necessarily.
                                      IME the best check is to ask for a reference from someone you know. This is no guarantee either and I've found some people don't even hesitate to cheat others through their friends but I can say I've been incredibly lucky and have a wonderful group of clients. Every now and then a problem may come up but so far we've always found a solution that worked out for everybody. I've also found that when someone has hit hard times they are incredibly grateful for any help you can offer and sometimes when there is real dilemma (divorce, disease, loss of kin...) I've often found myself to be in a better position to make suggestions for a solution.
                                      I also believe the vast majority of customers out there is not willingly cheating you out of money, they just sometimes lack sense of reality or overestimate their own prospects in life. I wouldn't try to run a credit check on a client. Never needed to and almost always got out ok if things got squeezy. It does take patience though and sometimes you have to suck it up and cover someone else's losses to a degree. But such is life...
                                      Froh zu sein bedarf es wenig...
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                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        When I got back into horses five years ago, I was a bit suprised at how simple it was to buy the horse, find a stable, get a vet, farrier, etc... Not one person even asked me if I had a job. I still have not had anyone ask me and my gelding is now at his third stable, we have switched farriers, and added a chiropractor, trainer, and equine dentist to the list. I must have really good luck because we have not had problems at any barns yet with bad owners/managers either. We moved once for an indoor arena and once to work with a new trainer.
                                        On the other hand, I have never been late on a horse related bill, pay my regularly scheduled vet bills in advance(love that discount!), and all others on the day of service or as soon as they have a total, even if it means borrowing the money from somewhere else. I have never been late on board and have always given a longer notice than required when we did move barns.
                                        Now my credit report has nothing on it that is good. I have no loans, no credit cards, and only one old student loan paid off in the 90's. Also several paid off collection accounts and an eviction from before when we did not have health insurance and I had a child with chronic asthma who was in and out of the hospital regularly. I am still now and was a single parent at the time. Luckily I have a better job, good insurance, and have only one child left at home. Now who would look at that report and approve? Not even my bank as recently as last week. All this stuff is years old and hopefully will be rolling off soon. But what barn owner would even consider me if they were going by my credit report?

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