As a landlord, one of the most important things you can do is thoroughly screen potential tenants before allowing them to rent your property. Tenant screening ensures that you choose responsible renters who will pay their rent on time, take care of your property, and not cause any problems with other tenants or neighbors.
However, tenant screening can be time-consuming and complicated, especially if you don’t have experience in this area. That’s why many landlords turn to tenant screening services to help them find the best renters for their properties.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the best tenant screening services available today. We’ll discuss what tenant screening is all about, why it’s so important for landlords, and what factors to consider when choosing a tenant screener service.
What Is Tenant Screening?
Tenant screening is the process that landlords use to evaluate potential renters before they sign a lease agreement. It involves conducting background checks on potential tenants to determine if they have any criminal history or negative financial information that could affect their ability to pay rent or cause problems while renting your property.
Some of the key components of tenant screening include verifying employment and income information, checking credit reports and scores, confirming rental history with previous landlords, and conducting criminal background checks.
Why Is Tenant Screening So Important?
Tenant screening is critical for several reasons:
Ability to Pay Rent
The most immediate concern for landlords is whether or not prospective tenants will be able to pay rent. By evaluating an applicant’s financial situation – including employment stability and credit score – landlords can make more informed decisions about whether an applicant will be able to keep up with payments.
It’s also important for landlords to screen prospective tenants in order to maintain security in their rental properties. Conducting criminal background checks can help identify applicants who may pose a threat or have been involved in illegal activities in the past.
Finally, tenant screening can also help landlords identify tenants who have a history of property damage. By reviewing past rental and property damage records, landlords can make better decisions about who to allow into their rental properties.
What Factors Should You Consider When Choosing a Tenant Screening Service?
If you’re considering using a tenant screening service, there are several factors to keep in mind:
Although cost is often the first thing that comes to mind for many landlords, it’s important not to choose your tenant screening provider based solely on price. Generally speaking, the more comprehensive the report you’re looking for, the more expensive it will be.
Always research the reputation of any tenant screening service before you sign up. Look for reviews online from other landlords who have used the service in the past. Make sure that their reports are thorough and accurate and that they provide excellent customer support when needed.
Different tenant screening services offer different levels of information and support. Determine which services you need – such as criminal background checks, credit checks, and eviction reports – and choose a provider that offers them all. This will save time and hassle in the long run.
The amount of time it takes for a tenant screening service to complete its reports can vary widely from provider to provider. Be sure to ask about turnaround time ahead of time so you know what to expect when submitting applications.
Now that we’ve gone over why tenant screening is so important and what factors you should consider when choosing a tenant screening service let’s dive into our top picks for best providers in 2022:
RentPrep: RentPrep provides comprehensive background checks with fast turnaround times at an affordable price point.
MyRental: MyRental delivers detailed rental histories complete with employment verification, inquiry letters, and state-specific eviction data.
SmartMove: A product of the big credit bureau TransUnion, SmartMove offers easy online applications and quick tenant screening results.
Experian Connect: Another product from a major credit bureau, Experian Connect offers credit score and credit report access to landlords and property managers.
National Tenant Network: This service provides criminal background checks, as well as landlord and employment verifications with flexible pricing options.
CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions: CoreLogic is a full-service provider of tenant screening services, offering everything from eviction reports to worldwide criminal searches.
E-Renter: With its comprehensive reports that include national criminal history data, E-Renter has been a popular choice for landlords since 2003.
LeaseRunner: LeaseRunner provides easy-to-read applicant summaries along with essential criminal background information and convenient e-signatures for agreements.
TenantAlert: TenantAlert offers state-of-the-art technology to allow landlords to screen tenants faster than ever before while ensuring maximum accuracy in its reports.
On-Site.com: On-Site is a full-service platform that handles everything from online rental applications to screening renters and even collecting rent payments. Landlords who want all-in-one comprehensive support will find it with this option.
Tenant screening can be a complex process that requires thorough research into many different factors ranging from verification of previous rental histories to nationwide criminal record searches. However, choosing the right tenant screening service can make all the difference when it comes to finding reliable tenants for your rental properties so you can have peace of mind knowing they will take care of your investment properly
When considering various tenant screening services, keep in mind the cost of each service as well as their reputation based on user reviews and ratings available online or through trusted sources like consumer reporting agencies such as Better Business Bureau (BBB). By keeping these factors in mind during your search, you will be able to choose the best tenant screening service for you and ensure that your properties are rented to responsible tenants who will take care of them as if they were their own.
What is a tenant screening service?
A tenant screening service is a company that helps landlords and property managers evaluate potential tenants by checking their background, credit history, criminal records, rental history, and more.
Why should landlords use tenant screening services?
Landlords should use tenant screening services to reduce the risk of renting to bad tenants who may damage their property, violate lease agreements, or fail to pay rent on time. Tenant screening can also help verify a tenant’s identity and prevent fraud.
How do I choose the best tenant screening service?
You should choose the best tenant screening service based on the features they offer, such as comprehensive background checks, credit reports, eviction histories, and customer support. Also consider their pricing and reputation in the industry.
What are some popular tenant screening services?
Some popular tenant screening services include RentPrep, TransUnion SmartMove, CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions, and Cozy. Each of these companies offers different levels of affordability and features for landlords.
What information can I expect from a typical tenant background check?
A typical tenant background check may include information about an applicant’s credit score, criminal history, eviction records, rental history, employment verification, income verification, and identity verification. Depending on the provider you choose there will be differences in what they look at but what has been listed above are common elements reviewed in background checks.
Can I run a background check on potential tenants myself?
Yes, you can run a background check on potential tenants yourself; however it is recommended that you consult with your lawyer beforehand to ensure that your process does not violate any regulations or privacy laws.
Will using a tenant screening service guarantee that I’ll get great renters?
Despite using a professional review process there is never a guarantee that any tenant will be automatically “great.” However, a tenant screening service can help landlords reduce the risk of renting to bad tenants. Ultimately, landlords should still interview potential renters and use judgement during the process.
How long does it take to get a tenant screening report?
The duration for receiving the report varies depending on which service you use. Typically it ranges from 24 hours to up to 5 business days. Some services offer quick results while others are relatively slower and more thorough in their processes.
Can I reject an applicant based on their background report?
Yes, as long as your reason for rejection is not discriminatory under local and federal fair housing laws (race, religion, gender etc). If you have valid concerns with an applicant’s credit history or criminal history you have every right to turn them down.
What if an applicant disputes information on their tenant screening report?
If they dispute information on their application then there are specific procedures laid out under Fair Credit Reporting Act(FCRA) that need to be followed by all services, giving applicants the right to dispute any errors identified in their reports.