Tenant screening

11 Replies

What tenant screening sites has everyone had luck with? I'm looking for a new service and was leaning towards myrental.com, has anyone had experience with them? Thanks in advance for the help.

I'm planning to use MYSMARTMOVE.COM

@Jonathan Cubeta did you ever try out the site www.myrental.com and if so, how was it? If not, what have you gone with? I saw someone else in the forums mention a site called www.rocketlease.com but it is $35 vs the site you are mentioning costs $25 for seemingly the same services. So far I have just used www.mysmartmove.com which is recommended by BP, but it doesn't give an evictions report, only credit and criminal reports for $25 which means I would have to use another service to do the full background check.

Since I am having my prospective tenants cover the cost I would prefer to have the lowest cost option that gives you the most bang for your buck, but at the same time I want to be sure that what I am paying for is reliable. My apartments are in a lower income area, so I don't want it priced too high where it is going to scare them away from applying. I've already had to turn multiple people away after running their credit reports, so I can already see that it's not going to be financially feasible for me to be covering the fees myself.

@Gerald K. good call on the guide, it is a great resource. I have read it a few times before and just did again now and was reminded of some relevant points. Sounds like I am going to have to do some further research on how to investigate past evictions since it seems there's no catch-all approach. The guide makes a great point regarding reaching out to their landlord PRIOR to their current one. I have always thought it was kind of pointless to call their current landlord since they are going to give me a stellar review of their rental history if they want to get rid of them.

This section of the guide helps me to better understand how you can use the www.mysmartmove.com in conjunction with other forms of background checking:

The Tenant Credit Report:

The tenant credit report will contain a wealth of information related to the tenants credit history, including a detailed list of all the tenant’s open or closed credit cards, car payments, monetary judgements, late payments, and more. This information can be overwhelming, but I recommend looking for the following items:

  • Credit Score: Depending on your criteria, you may establish a minimum credit score for your tenants. The particular score may depend on your location and cliental.
  • Current and Former Addresses: Often times, a tenant may conveniently “forget” a past address. Verify that the addresses given by the tenant on the application match the addresses on the credit report. The credit report may not include all the addresses, but any listed should be verified. You can ask the prospective tenant about the addresses or simply do a Google search for those addresses and, if it belongs to an apartment complex, you can call the apartment to see if the tenant ever lived there.
  • Public Records:This part of the credit report will list any judgments levied against the tenant -which includes garnishments or evictions that have a monetary claim. Note: This does not included evictions without a monetary claim. To find these evictions the process can be a little more complicated. Each state and county has a different way of finding out, but it should be public info in each county. You should be able to search (if your county has online records) for your tenant’s name and/or all previous addresses listed on the tenant’s credit report. Look for any cases that involve a rental company or have the words “eviction” in them. It’s not an easy way – and most landlord’s simply rely on the credit report findings- but it is possible. You’ll also find out when you talk to previous landlords.My policy is to never rent to a tenant with an eviction on their record, though some landlords put a time limit on it such as “no evictions in the past five years.” This is a personal choice and depends largely on your risk tolerance level and the current demand for rentals in your area.
  • Vehicle Repossessions: Having a vehicle repossessed is strong indication that a tenant cannot handle their money very well. If you notice a vehicle repossession – definitely ask more questions about this.

Call the current and previous landlords. I have had current landlords actually be quite frank about their tenant moving out. The previous landlord is even better, but call them both if you can. You can sometimes gain a lot of info from those calls. Ask them questions to make sure they're not just a friend, like the address or other details the landlord would only know. If you can arrange a visit to see how the tenant is taking care of their current place, that will open your eyes as well. The condition you see is what you'll likely get within a few months.

Do any of these services do a residency search outside this country? I have an applicant who says she lived in the Dominican Republic prior to the 2 years she's been at her current address. Her Facebook page seems to bear this out. I use American Tenant Screening and will call them tomorrow.

Thanks @Gerald K. I have only been declining based on credit so far so I haven't gotten to the point yet where I needed to do the prior landlord interviews, but will definitely be interviewing as many prior landlords as possible. I'm glad to hear that some of their current landlords are honest, that is refreshing for me to hear!


What excuses have you used to go to drop by their place? I find it hard to come up with reasons when the screening process is being done over the internet.

Originally posted by @Dan Borecki :
Thanks @Gerald K. I have only been declining based on credit so far so I haven't gotten to the point yet where I needed to do the prior landlord interviews, but will definitely be interviewing as many prior landlords as possible. I'm glad to hear that some of their current landlords are honest, that is refreshing for me to hear!


What excuses have you used to go to drop by their place? I find it hard to come up with reasons when the screening process is being done over the internet.

There's a couple things you could do. You could drive by their place to see what the area is like and what's going on. That may give you some indication of what to expect. If they live at a single family house, you can try to drive by and check front and backyard also. I know some landlord's show up with something for them to sign or fill out that they previously (on purpose) forgot to give them, but you could also just be upfront and say a visit is part of your screening process - you check the condition of the rooms to see how the unit is being taken care of. If they truly take care of the place, they should have no problem with this. Some may balk at this. If they have a problem with it, you could ask them why. That conversation could be revealing in and of itself. Obviously, it wouldn't be a surprise visit if you scheduled it. You probably couldn't go through all the rooms, if any, if you showed up with a form to sign. You might just be held at the front door. Another idea would be to ask if they would allow you to visit the place to see what offerings other landlords have in the area. However, you may not need to do this if you can discuss the issue with previous landlords. By the way, if you do speak to the previous landlord and they are not forth coming, that's a warning sign! Good luck.

GREAT ideas for stopping by their place! I am going to save your list for future reference. I guess my problem with being too up front about seeing their place is that I don't feel like I'm in a position of power right now to decline people since it's hard enough to find people that I want to even get to that point in the application process in the first place, but I have to snap out of that mindset and have to instead come from a place where I make them believe that I have a lot of other applicants and that it's my standard policy and it's something they'll have to go through if they want my place.....ESPECIALLY if I decide to only take 1st & security from them rather than 1st/last/security.

Thanks again!

I've recently switched over to ***********.com and I really like their services. I'm one of the landlords that mostly uses the credit/criminal checks as a data point to see if they were honest with me prior more than anything. I also like that I do not have to personally handle their sensitive info (SSN/etc). It has ways to setup autopay via ACH as well, though I haven't had any tenants use it yet.

Besides that, my best info has always come from other landlords.

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