Hi BP Community:
I'm interested in getting recommendations on Tenant Screening Services. I recently read through the forums and read that TransUnion's tool, SmartMove was recommended by BP, so I tried it, and I have to say that I'm disappointed.
Yes, it provides criminal background and credit check, but it doesn't ask the tenant to fill out other basic info that would be requested on a rental application - like employment history, pets, previous landlord references etc., even if they aren't checking on those items, I want that info. And a random 'resident score' with no explanation of the scale for the score. AND no credit score. I mean, it's TransUnion, one would think that a credit score would be included.
I've already paid the $35 and emailed their customer service, but it's moot now as I want to get more info than what they provided. Now, I feel like I need to go back to my potential tenant and ask for them to fill out a rental application. I should have checked a sample report from SmartMove before going through with the service.
No experience with Tenant Background Search.
I like Cozy. For my out of state properties that I self-manage, I have the prospective tenant fill out an application with my local “agent.” That application asks all the questions you listed you’d like to have answered - standard application.
The agent emails me the app. I then get on the phone with the prospect, confirm the info in the application, advise them that I’ll be following up with their current landlord, job, etc (this is in essence me “warning” them of what’s to come - and I meet it, politely, of course. At this point, some start to spill out the truth about what’s really in their credit report/how they are facing an eviction at that moment, etc. - so we don’t even get to the credit check step. And I never need to deal with “denial of credit” letter.) I then tell them about Cozy, how they will (not I) shell out $40 for me to get their credit and criminal background information - that they could still provide to the next potential landlord (I tell them that that landlord may need some education about Cozy from them - so no guarantees that they could use it again in the near future) if I should turn them down after getting the credit and criminal report.
So, for practical purposes, they still control access to their credit report; and they are also happy to immediately be able to see what you see. And you do not need to charge them a fee that you then list as part of your income (because you should,) and then count your cost as an expense - unless you make money on the arbitrage. (I never did.)
We carry the SmartMove product as one of our screening products so I understand where you’re coming from.
Their “application” really is a watered down form to give enough details to run a background check. You will get a few extra details but I wouldn’t recommend using it as your official application.
It’s a good product but I would not recommend using it for your rental applications.
I will go ahead and reach out to you directly.
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