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What is the best tenant screening service?

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P M

Homeowner from Jersey City, New Jersey

Apr 10 '09, 05:30 AM


Hello.

There are so so many Tenant Screening Services!
Not sure which one to use.....
Which is the best, and or most, comprehensive service out there?


Edited Jun 26 2010, 07:53


Ingrid Nagy Donor

Property Manager from Passaic, New Jersey

Apr 10 '09, 07:29 PM


I use American Tenant Screen (www.alwaysscreen.com). The reports are instant on the internet and they have been very reliable for the past 20 years I have used them.


Edited Jun 26 2010, 07:53


Mark N.A

Real Estate Investor from North Carolina

Apr 10 '09, 09:30 PM


The problem with many tenant screening services is that they charge some sort of ongoing membership fee. I suppose that's fine if the number of screenings justifies it.

I use Tenant Verification Service which offers a la carte pricing. They are out of Canada which means my credit card dings me a couple extra bucks for a 'foreign transaction', but that's covered in the fee I charge.

If anyone knows of other screening services that charge by the request I'd like to know so I can do some comparisons.


Edited Jun 26 2010, 07:53


Kenneth LaVoie

Real Estate Investor from Winslow, Maine

Dec 07 '09, 07:00 PM
4 votes


I asked a web client of mine, who is a private investigator, if he could put togehter a "tenant screening package" for me and this was his response. (interesting stuff about the online verification especially regarding criminal check)
=====================
Good morning Ken,

Appreciate the opportunity, however it is impossible to compete with online pricing whilst doing the job correctly, because they don't.

The online services you refer to do not actually do what they say. It is impossible for them to do so at the prices they quote. Here are some indisputable facts that none of these companies can overcome:

1.There is no accurate nationwide criminal record check available. The law enforcement version called NCIC is not available outside the non-law enforcement community.

2. I have seen online prices for credit and criminal checks at 15.95. Again, impossible. Here is a real life example, The State of Maine would charge $31.00 for a state wide criminal check for an out of state entity. That is not negotiable. A FCRA compliant credit check with release is going to cost you between 10 and 30 dollars. Those numbers are out of pocket, not including profit to whoever you use to do it. A Maine criminal check and an average costing credit check cost $50.00 out of pocket for anyone in the world. How can any service charge you only $15.95.

Here is a second and more likely example. A person who has lived in two states in the years prior. What if the person lived in NY for the past five years, and Maine for the years before. New York has a mandatory fee of $57.00 per request. Maine, as previously stated is $31.00. That is $87.00 out of pocket expenses before you even check credit, verify ss, etc. Some states do not offer a statewide criminal check, or the one offered is not accurate or up to date. In that case a county to county search must be done. The average person has lived or worked in 3-5 counties over the past 7-10 years. An average county cost is 20-25$, so a criminal check via the courts is going to run about $100.00 out of pocket. In states such as Maine, every court charges a mandatory search fee of $15.00 per name.

Be careful of the eviction claim. What you are being offered is an eviction that was collected upon in court. It does not include the many, if not majority of "get your ass outta here" evictions that show up no where except in calling the previous landlords. If you find a gap in residences, dig further.

Here is what I offer a client of mine in the gaming industry. They have strict standards but I offer you this as an example. I charge them $160.00 per.

Credit history
Name SS and address verification
Federal Civil, Criminal, Bankruptcy & Sex offender
State criminal 2 states included in price. (Yes federal and state criminal are two different places, the online folks do not even know that exists)

We also verify what we call the "bonafides" on the application such as previous employers etc.

Based on your needs, I could offer you the following for $100.00:

Credit history with signed release
Name, SS and address verification includes calling past landlords to verify eviction status and dates of residence.
Federal Civil, Criminal, Bankruptcy & Sex offender
Maine state criminal (Second state additional charges apply)

Yes I know this is more than you want to pay, but be careful with the online offers.

You could set up accounts and do the work yourself. Get an account with TRW or Equifax, they may charge you $9.99-19.99 per report depending on volume, Get an account with Informe.org in Maine and your cost for statewide criminal would be $21.00. You can verify name and SS by using one of the 15.95 intellius or tenant screening searches and call the previous landlords yourself. Your cost would be $47.00- $57.00 plus the time. Many sex offender registries are free, just takes time to locate and search. You may be lacking in the Federal criminal and civil which includes bankruptcy, but you would anyway if you paid and outside service...except for me of course.

At least you know you did it right. Remember, there is no nationwide criminal search and if someone you are considering is offering it, make them identify their sources. What they are selling is usually a publicly available list of department of corrections lists from state to state which is at best 50% accurate because many states do not participate nor does it tell the specifics of the matter.


Edited Jun 26 2010, 10:46


Justin Case

Real Estate Investor from Seattle, Washington

Dec 08 '09, 11:04 AM


Fast, Easy and Cheap.

https://www.1-background-checks.com/


Edited Jun 26 2010, 10:46


Joshua Dorkin Verified Donor

BiggerPockets Founder from Denver, Colorado

Aug 20 '10, 11:58 AM


As many of you may know, BiggerPockets has partnered with TransUnion to offer tenant screening via our partnership site BiggerPockets Smartmove.

We had the opportunity to look at many other businesses and choose to work with them because we felt that they had a superior product that was reasonably priced, secure, and easy to use.

We've gotten great feedback so far from those people who have used it.

Just wanted to make sure I gave it a plug here . . .



Medium_bp-squareJoshua Dorkin, BiggerPockets
E-Mail: [email protected]
Telephone: 877-831-4704
Website: http://www.biggerpockets.com
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Charles Perkins

Landlord from Seattle, Washington

Aug 20 '10, 12:04 PM


Josh, I look forward to giving them a try.



Julia J

May 16 '11, 04:25 AM


Hi,

How do you tell the tenants that you are not accepting them? Especially those with criminal record?

Are these screening services giving you any suggestions like: 'you should not accept this tenant or that it's ok to accept him"...

I am totally clueless, I've never done it and I want to do it as simple as possible and also be able to reject them if i have to.

Thanks a lot,
this forum is very useful



George P.

Real Estate Investor from Baltimore, Maryland

May 17 '11, 05:45 AM


Whichever service you use, don't forget to check their current place. if it's trashed, they will also trash yours. None of the above suggested reporting sites will ever give you this information.



Scott Karg

Real Estate Investor from Jarrettsville, Maryland

May 18 '11, 11:13 AM


Originally posted by Joshua Dorkin:
As many of you may know, BiggerPockets has partnered with TransUnion to offer tenant screening via our partnership site BiggerPockets Smartmove.

We had the opportunity to look at many other businesses and choose to work with them because we felt that they had a superior product that was reasonably priced, secure, and easy to use.

We've gotten great feedback so far from those people who have used it.

Just wanted to make sure I gave it a plug here . . .

Josh, it seems an email is required for the renters to start an application? What if they don't have one?



George P.

Real Estate Investor from Baltimore, Maryland

May 18 '11, 09:40 PM
1 vote


Originally posted by Scott Karg:
Originally posted by Joshua Dorkin:
As many of you may know, BiggerPockets has partnered with TransUnion to offer tenant screening via our partnership site BiggerPockets Smartmove.

We had the opportunity to look at many other businesses and choose to work with them because we felt that they had a superior product that was reasonably priced, secure, and easy to use.

We've gotten great feedback so far from those people who have used it.

Just wanted to make sure I gave it a plug here . . .

Josh, it seems an email is required for the renters to start an application? What if they don't have one?


Meet with them at the coffee shop and bring your laptop. or use another service that wouldn't inconvenience you and the tenant.



Terry Drake

Real Estate Investor from

Jun 06 '11, 12:21 PM


I found one that worked well for me today. Background and credit for $25 with no onsite inspection or fees. rentingauthority.com



Ralph Thoreau

Feb 04 '12, 03:15 PM


Does anyone know one how much does BiggerPockets Smartmove charge per background check.

Also, is it per tenant i.e husband and wife or per individual (husband one report - wife one report)

On their overview video they show $30/report

Thanks



Bruno Pirozzi

Durham, North Carolina

Apr 12 '12, 01:57 PM


One might argue that a resident screening service that integrates seamlessly with a property management's software would be the most efficient. Several of the big competitive providers do this: Builduim, PropertyWare, and RealPage's Leasing Desk Resident Screening packages are outfitted to make life a little simpler.



Silvio Brigliadoro

SFR Investor from Riverside, California

Apr 12 '12, 10:41 PM
1 vote


Originally posted by P M:
Hello.

There are so so many Tenant Screening Services!
Not sure which one to use.....
Which is the best, and or most, comprehensive service out there?

YOU !
No one will care more about your property and your money than yourself. Who has great credit these days? Some of my best tenants have lost their house to foreclosure, some even have a BK on their credit. I run their credit, but I look at many other details like how their car looks, their personality, attitude and focus on their job stability and ability to pay.



T Ferrante

Real Estate Investor from

Apr 12 '12, 10:54 PM


I agree with Silvio that YOU are the best person to screen your tenants. I use MySmartMove to run credit checks but I also call current and previous landlords and employers. I also ask for a pay stub. If something doesn't check out, I don't reject the tenant, I tell them what didn't check out, e.g., "eviction" and explain that if it is a mistake they need to get it corrected and get back to me but in the meantime, I'll need to start processing the next application.



Rob K

Real Estate Investor from Michigan

Oct 06 '12, 11:08 AM


I'm happy with the service that I use. I don't know if I should name them here since BP has a service and this is a competitor. They did an office inspection which cost $59, but the first two reports were free. After that, I pay $14.95 for a credit report with score AND an eviction report. The eviction report is what I like. So many times evictions show up that the tenant never told you about and didn't give you that address.

They sell a criminal check for an additional cost, but my state publishes criminal records online for free. They also provide a denial letter to send to the tenant that tells them how to obtain a copy of their credit report.



Steve Babiak

Real Estate Investor from Audubon, Pennsylvania

Oct 07 '12, 09:05 AM


@Rob K - it is OK to name vendors you have used with success, so long as you are not getting some affiliate compensation (or so long as it is not some off-shoot business of yours).

Your prices mentioned are certainly competitive. The tip I have posted in some other threads is to use the address history in the credit report to help track down other evictions. Basically involves looking up owner of those addresses and contacting those owners about the applicant you are screening.

The denial letter is a form letter that you can find lots of with an internet search - it's nothing special IMO to get it from the service (they want you to use theirs so that they know you are complying with Fair Credit Reporting Act).



Steve Babiak, Redeeming Properties, LLC
Telephone: 6109082183
...


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