Tenant screening

38 Replies

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Hi @Account Closed ,  credit reports are instantly available to landlords, some methods have tenants order the report and send it to the landlord which can take longer, but other methods make it directly available to the landlord with no wait.  Each has it's pros and cons.  There's a number of both of these types of screening companies here on BP and you can also google "tenant screening" for more.  Aside from credit, be sure to look at a nationwide eviction report and nationwide criminal report.  It's important to look at a nationwide report because they might have been convicted of an offense or be on a sex offender list in another county or state and you deserve to know that before renting to them.

Another powerful screening tactic is to get an address history report so you can compare their actual residential history with what they claim on their application.  All too often an applicant will simply omit a landlord that they wrong'd and you wouldn't know to check for that unless you have an address history report.

Hi John,

You are absolutely correct.  Some counties do not make their data available electronically or make it extremely difficult to get.   A nationwide report will get the bulk of all US counties (depending on the supplier), but it's never going to be 100%.  But since it's often impractical to contact every county the subject has resided in (or visited as people do commit crimes while travelling too), it's a really good starting point. 

We use Saferent a service of CoreLogic. They have different price options but you can search nationally because Trans Union  compiles all of the records into its master dataset. No search is 100% accurate but we have not run into problems so far.

I agree that checking previous addresses to look for omitted info on the application is important.  A couple things I did to get previous addresses, was to ask to see their ID - then I'd write down the address on it.  Also, I required personal printed checks to pay for the application fee, so I could see that address, too.  I also wanted to know that they had an active checking account.  

Also, beware of tenants who want you to make a decision over a weekend, even if you can access their credit reports online.  Some do this so that you can't verify landlord or employment references, because their offices may be closed over the weekend.

You'll actually have some applicants screen themselves out, when you ask for these things, and tell them you never make decisions over the weekend or holidays.

And google the company and get the number of the HR department and call that number, instead of the number they put on the application.

I also Googled the applicants, in addition to running the checks.  Sometimes you'll find the darndest things :-)

That is very good advice. We do the same procedure when it comes to contacting the  current landlord and have busted one already who put a fake reference on the app. We have even reached out to landlords via Facebook when we couldn't develop our own number for the landlord.

Calling tenant provided numbers for references is a bad practice, IMO.

Originally posted by @Chelsea Morrissette :

@Nathan Miller , that is very good advice. I am new to investing and trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible without making any action. I will definitely implement this information into my mind to utilize once I get my first rental.

 You're so smart for learning before you leap.  Good on you.

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@Bill Kriaris - I've been using Rentec Direct for all my tenant screening for a few years now.  Super convenient as I get the reports delivered instantly.  It's not like smartmove or the smartmove clones in that I get my reports delivered to me instantly without any tenant interaction.  I highly recommend the service.

@Nathan Miller - I'm very pleased to see you guys up on BP!!  I have a few suggestions for the app that I'd love to confer with you about.

I had this question and searched forever-- My winners (those, I've used):

Turn around (for any service): Should be a few hours (same day)

Great customer service at Hourserie-- both are not a rip off and don't require you do some grueling visit where they check if you have a safe box for holding screening applications (if you want very detailed credit reports, some places will do this for you, but honestly, I don't think it's necessary).

Smart move requires tenants apply themselves online, but I like to review references first so I'm not charging everyone money upfront. 
As a renter myself-- No one wants to have their money wasted if you're already not keen on selecting them. 

Cheers!

Originally posted by @Account Closed :

Sue,

A lot of people will have a P.O.Box on their license, and they call that privacy.

 Well, when you apply to rent or borrow money or buy a car, etc., etc., you better be ready to have your privacy invaded.  Or keep looking for a naive landlord.

But, a PO Box can still give you info.  It will have a town listed.  If none of the addresses they gave you were in that town - bingo.

MyRental is a great site for tenant screening.  Not only do they offer credit and background check services, they also offer criminal searches, eviction histories, and tenant scores.  Their site also provides great articles and resources full of information.

@Cody Barrett - You can also get TransUnion credit data direct, without having to have the tenant go online and fill out their questionnaire.  You just can't get it directly from TU, a certified reseller has to be involved.  Same thing, just instant results to the landlord with no tenant interaction.

@Jason Hartley - BP community rules doesn't it!!  Thank you for the props!  Call the office and ask for me and I'd be happy to chat with you any time about the ideas you have.