Zillow Tenant Screening Service

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Has any one looked very far into Zillow's new tenant screening service? 
On the surface it looks pretty slick.  Tenants pay for their own background and credit checks and you just get a notice that someone applied.  It's looks to be even cheaper than the latest update to SmartMove.

After receiving email about this new service, I posted a note in a FB group for landlords. Someone from the Zillow group (also a member) responded with this:

<<The goal of this product is to bring several processes that have traditionally happened offline, and bring them online, smoothing the overall experience for everyone. Similar to our current Renter Profile product, which allows renters to submit a bit about themselves for landlords to preview, applications is now a more formal way to review prospective tenants. Landlords can choose to enable or disable application and screening which controls whether or not their listing has an “Apply Now” button, or simply a “Request to Apply” option. Yes, tenants can apply themselves, but landlords can also still initiate an application through an invitation.


I completely understand your concern about taking the necessary steps before sending an application, and that’s why we encourage renters to reach out to the landlord and tour a place before applying. We have purposely kept our main call to action as “Send a tour request” as well as “Ask a question”. We think these are the best way for renters and landlords to have initial contact to see if it is a good fit.

We think renters will love this product because right now they have to pay a separate application fee for every rental they apply for. Versus being a “pay-to-play” system, the low once monthly fee actually can save renters money over time, as we know from our research that most apply to at least two rentals during their search.

Providing a product that enables landlords to comply with local laws is incredibly important to us. Our product and legal teams have worked very closely with Experian and Checkr, who are providing the background and credit reports, to make sure our application and screening process enables landlords to comply with applicable laws. We will continue to keep a very close eye on all local and state laws and do our best to tailor our product to areas with specific exceptions.

We are not taking over the tenant selection process. We just want to make it easier to for landlords and renters to go through the rental application process. We appreciate the feedback.>>

I asked a follow-up question about the lack of download/print option, and this was his response:

 <<We decided not to support download/print at this time because we want to make sure the renter’s sensitive information is protected when they share it with a landlord. Our applications feature will continue to evolve and we’ll be sure to consider this request in the future if we feel that we can do so in a responsible way. Feel free to message me if you’d like to share more how you’d use the ability to print or download the applications.>>

My 2 cents in response: I'd like to see a free preliminary app with some of the most common questions asked during pre-screening. Follow that with tour of property and then the paid full application, credit check, etc.

It will be interesting to see how this works going forward.

I have not but I get good results by listing it on Zillow. In the past I used my own application and smartmove for the credit side. This way I get the info I want and I make sure someone sees the unit before applying so I don't waste time qualifying an application for someone who doesnt actually want the unit. I may check it out next time I have a vacancy.