Organized crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger didn’t complete an application nor undergo tenant screening  years ago when he and girlfiend Catherian Greig rented their apartment in Santa Monica, CA.

According to an article by John Zaremba in the Boston Herald, Bulger and Greig always paid with cash and simply walked in to initially inquire about the unit after seeing a “For Rent” sign in the window.

Ruth Nourafchan, owner of the Princess Eugena building, told the Herald “This was a different time” when referring to the tenant application that Bulger never completed. Nourafchan goes on to comment that no one had a clue that Whitey and Catherine aka Charles and Carol Gasko were actually on the FBI’s Top 10 Most wanted list when their residency began in 1996 until recently when they were captured.

This should be a wake-up call to landlords everywhere that you really never know who’s walking through your door. According to Sam Cooper, licensed private investigator, there are several critical warning signs:

  • They need immediate move-in
  • Will accept any type of dwelling
  • “Just forgot” their ID at home by accident.

You can also refer to this reference Top 13 Reasons to Use Investigative Tenant Screening.

Tenant screening begins with each prospective tenant completing an application and the landlord verification of at least 2 forms of identification–preferably a state issued ID and a social security card. In the case of Bulger and Greig these beginning steps would have likely caught them trying to use fake IDs or sent them on to the next apartment complex out of fear and without incident.

The bottom line is that the owner or landlord have an obligation to use good tenant screening for personal safety and for the protection of other tenants on the property or in the neighborhood. James “Whitey” Bulger isn’t the only tenant who has found refuge in a little known apartment building or the only tenant who pays with cash but a simple tenant screening would have garnered a criminal rap sheet to make any landlord sit up and take notice.