I need a good tenant screening service...

14 Replies

Okay, so I'm taking applications on my rental and at first I thought I was going to use SmartMove for my tenant screening services because the price is right and it seemed easy.  That changed for me after the first one.  While the price for a credit and background check is reasonable, SmartMove requires the applicant to respond to a link sent to them via email authorizing the check to be done.  I had the signed application in my hand when I purchased the report.  This resulted in the check not being completed until 3 days later when the applicant finally went in to check their email.  I don't like this process.

Can anyone suggest a service that is $35 or less.  I've charged the applicants $35 and I think that's high enough.  Some of my applicants are low income and many get taken advantage of.  

Thanks for your input

@Phoebe Hodges-Carter , I use SmartMove as well, and agree that having the tenant respond to the link can seem a little cumbersome and can delay the process if they don't check their email frequently.  I will always let them know to expect this email and will even call/text when it gets sent out and I don't have that problem anymore.  By the way, I'm not sure how many rentals you have, but if you have enough to warrant using a property management software, if you use Buildium the credit/background checks through SmartMove are only $12.

I just hate that email thing, too, but I get around it sometimes by bringing my laptop to the house, and using my own email, thus ensuring that the get the e-mail, and if they need help, I'm right there. That said, I haven't perfected the process yet.  my local roa recommends a company that charges 35 or 40, and it just hurts to charge that, when there are 2-3 adults going to live there!

We have had a LOT of success with this organization...


...in-depth screening =  90% of a Landlords' peace of mind!!!

good luck

I use www.clearscreening.com, highly recommend them.

Phoebe, we ran into the exact same issues with our low income applicants.  We were wasting a huge amount of time going back and forth with applicants on e-mail woes, it's just not as easy as it seems like it should be.

You might want to check with your state or local real estate group.  Our Washington State Landlords Association has an in house screening service.  It was $15, it has gone up to $20, which is still a great value.  They have a one page application that the tenant signs and we fax in.  We supplement it with a few extra pages of application,

We were disappointed that it was a slower response time, up to two days and always many hours.  We discovered it is because they were doing wider searches and making more phone calls, and it takes time.  We still phone landlords and employers ourselves, we want to dig as deep as we can.  I also immediately send letters to the owners of prior addresses (from assessor website) where I can't immediately reach the landlords; I have gotten some great messages back (phone, e-mail) in time to take action on.  We let applicants know that it will take a few days to get back to them.

Best of luck!

Originally posted by @Dawn Young :

...  my local roa recommends a company that charges 35 or 40, and it just hurts to charge that, when there are 2-3 adults going to live there!

That is so true, and it is one place where you have to think like the tenant prospect. If the application / screening fee gets above $25, you will end up with fewer willing applicants IMO. 

I use


I'm considering switching to 


The cost is irrelevant.  I am very clear with applicants about requirements to qualify before I ever take an app or money.  They know they will qualify before they hand over the info and money.  To ease the cost of the app fee I apply it to the first months rent.  They are happy with that.

That may be a good idea.  Or apply half, or something like that.

Thanks for the wonderful feedback everyone!  I'm going to check out these sites and see which one fits best for me.  I had an open house yesterday and have six applications that need to be processed tonight.  

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Hmmm... the Rentec site seems to be pretty darned good.  I love that you can manage multiple properties in one place along with reports and accepting ACH payments.  Allowing the homeowner their own login and password to check up on this is AWESOME!  The prices are decent for the background and credit checks too.  I'm going to try it out for a month and see how I like it.

I wasn't too impressed with Smartmove either. I just had one tenant use it and it didn't give me any of the info I really wanted, like employment history etc. Further, it came back with a clean criminal check and I backed it up with my own and found all sorts of stuff on his record. I feel like I need to give him back his money since I had him use that site.

The big elephant in the room here is the credit score/report. If you're submitting written applications that you have, make sure you are getting FULL access to the credit reports, not just a decision.

The reason SmartMove requires tenant authorization via email is that TransUnion doesn't want to credential every small landlord out there. Credentialing is the process required by the credit bureaus whenever you're given access to fill credit data and score, and almost always requires a site inspection. This is also the same process you see with Experian backed reports on sites like cozy.co.

If you want full access to credit reports including score without tenant authorization, whoever sells them to you needs to do a site inspection. If they don't, there's a 99% chance you're not getting the full credit data, so call up and ask.

Hope that helps


Another http://www.myrental.com user here.  

I also have to agree that I don't see the cost of an application fee as an issue. To me, the willingness to pay to apply shows that the applicant is serious about getting the place, and knows they'll pass the tenant background check. By the time I have someone pay an application fee they've already met with me once and seen the property. If for whatever reason they aren't willing to pay a small one-time fee to take the very last step of the process it sends up a red flag on my end.

If you're concerned about turning off potential applicants then I do agree that the idea of applying the cost of the check to their first month's rent seems like a nice compromise. 

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