SmartMove aplication to screen tennants. worth it?

7 Replies

Hi everyone I am pretty new to BiggerPockets and as well as real estate investing and I was playing around the site and came across the SmartMove application to screen applicants and possible new tenants. Was wondering if any of you have used this and would recommend it?  I was wondering if I were to choose the $40.00 package would I be able to get away with charging a $40 application fee to interested renters or is that a little to steep? Any insight and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

I used the service for my last vacancy, I was pleased with the service.  As for the application fee, it depends on your market.  What are others charging for an application fee in your area?  For the last one I did I charged a $40 application fee as the area supported it, however at one of my other properties I would not be able to charge that much.

I use and like it. The tenant pays the $40 charge, I don't collect any fees. This is good because 1) no additional re portable income 2) I know if a tenant is serious or not if they go online and actually do it. I don't think the background check is that thorough but I haven't found anything better. Also, don't confuse the tenant score with a credit score. It's not the same but I bet they aren't that far off. The information in the credit report is more important than the score anyway. You could also check out Cozy's screening. I've never used it but I would be willing to bet its about the same quality. 

No system is better than screening yourself. You should be meeting with potential applicants and carrying out a personal interview to get a real feel for the applicant. You also need to read through every line of your lease agreement with applicants before signing a lease with them. Lay down your rules and make sure they are aware no deviation will be permitted, they will be strictly enforced. Check out their vehicle and there present residence to get a idea of how they take care of their property.

Screening services only perform a small portion of the total screening process for potential new tenants. Always keep in mind the true purpose of screening is to find reasons to reject applicants not reasons to accept them. You have only one opportunity to avoid evictions.

I've used it several times over the last few years and have been happy with results.  I have my own application that applicants fill out so I have their important information in case of eviction, also I state my procedure, that I will check past rental history and income verification first, for free, and if they pass that, they must pay Smartmove or other screening service directly for credit, background, etc., on anyone over 18, even if a dependent like an elderly parent or college student living  at  home.  I let them know it's first qualified applicant who signs lease and pays deposit and first month's rent, so if they pay for the report but someone else beats them to the lease and payments, it's on them, not me.  It also helps in getting them to contact past landlords and employers to speed things up as I let them know a delay in response from my inquiries will delay their chances. 

@Shawn Trudeau short answer: yes. It is worth it. I had a potential tenant that looked really good on paper and his references all checked out but I came to find a bunch of discrepancies after running the $40 Check. Turns out he had 8 credit cards in collections and for minimal amounts of money. If he can’t pay $900 worth of debt in 6 months, how would he pay my rent? Absolutely worth the money. We have potential tenants pay and take it out of their security deposit. I also believe it is a great idea to meet all your potential tenants first if possible. Most of the time that’ll help you screen which ones should even be potential tenants. Good luck!