Non 3rd party tenant background check!?

12 Replies

This is our first rental. I asked the applicants to apply via RentSpree. They are saying they are not happy using a 3rd party system for the application and background check. Because of hacking!?

They prefer paper application. However I still need to go online to do their background check. And still need their SSN so their concerns don’t make sense.

They ‘seem’ like great applicants, good jobs, rented 7 yrs landlord now selling, etc.

Is there a non 3rd party background check!!!?! 

Are they being ridiculous? What’s the best suggestion to alleviate their fears!


Would they be willing to use Smart move, which is TransUnion itself? You send the email they click it and do it/pay for it themselves.

I see this as a red flag though. Are they just trying to get out of getting one done?? Have you looked them up on your states system to see what comes up on their criminal record?

@Sarah Jukes pass on their application.

They arent afraid of "hacking" they're trying to hide something.

"I'm sorry but I require all applicants to submit to onkine criminal and credit background checks"

Thanks! I know it seems odd they don’t want their SSN entered into a 3rd party system, because of hacking. Yet they said they will fill out paper applications today and we explained we’d need to then enter their SSN into a background check program online... they said that’s okay. Which obviously makes no sense. Today we find out more....! 

Which background check software would you recommend that I go in and enter their info? they’ve been renting 7 years through a management  company so I will obviously check them out that way too etc.

I would explain to them that it’s more secure when they enter their information into a secure website, rather than them filling out a paper application and you filling it all out.

I’d also be concerned about the legality of you agreeing to a credit/background check on their behalf. Plus, these services exist to make everyone’s lives easier.

“Our requirements are that all potential renters complete an application online through xxx. Thanks.”

@Sarah Jukes Usually if renters are being wary about filling out an online application they might have something to hide. Like others have said, online rental applications through companies like RentSpree or TransUnion are actually safer for them. It is more of a liability for you to keep a paper form with their SSN! Not that you would do anything with it, but lots of landlords see it as a security issue and it gives them anxiety to keep papers with people's SSN on them. Because identity theft is a real threat to most savvy rental applicants, you can wind up limiting the number of potential tenants willing to apply to your property. When you are using an online rental application through trusted landlord software, you will tap into a greater number of potential tenants. 

Never allow applicants or tenants to manipulate how you operate your business. There is no reason or need to cater to there issues. Always operate with a standard policy and when applicants do not cooperate you immediately reject their application. Never allow them to force you to work for them, your way or the highway.

My standard reply when a applicant does not comply with my requests is to simply say "thank you for applying however we are not able to accept your application at this time". If they ask for the reason they are never happy to here that I expect them to cater to my requirements not me to theirs.

Hi @Sarah Jukes -- Yikes, this is an interesting situation! However, you are in the right for wanting to do an online tenant screening and continuing to push for that, good for you! I would suggest using a quick and compliant online tenant screening, maybe then your prospective tenants will be less weary, especially if they are in control of pushing their information to you and the landlord doesn't see their SSN. I wish you the best of luck!

Best regards,


thanks everyone. so the people I was referring too, didn't return the paper application, goes to show that my gut feeling was probably correct, they may have been hiding something.  Thankfully we had a different applicant who was happy to use Rent Spree and is moving in. 

I don’t agree with a lot of the responses here. I am now a real estate agent but I was a renter. On more than one occasion, I refused to give my Social Security number. Consequently, there were several rentals for which I was unable to be considered. Meanwhile, I was an exemplary tenant who paid my rent on time every month and improved the properties where I lived. In fact, one of my best clients now was once my landlord, one to whom I would not give my Social Security number. I offered alternative verification (cover letter, criminal background check, copies of rent checks, written landlord references).

I understand that doing the work of looking into a tenant’s background is harder than asking for a number. However, a Social Security number is private. If you look back in history, you will see that it was never intended to be handed out as candy. Laws have been considered to prevent credit score being used as a criterion for renting. I Believe they may be in place in some progressive states. It is only the business of landlords to determining if the rent will be paid on time; property cared for; lease and law abided by. A person’s credit score, credit report, and Social Security number are none of their business. JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING HAS BECOME STANDARD PRACTICE DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT.

The sooner we stop using numbers to judge people, the better off we will be. Further: A  hard copy, paper application should always, always, always be offered as an alternative. Schools these days try to weasel out of offering hardcopy work for students, but when you call them on it, they comply, because they know if it were brought to court, they would lose... 

Further: It should not cost money to apply for a rental.

Further still: There are many renters who have the sense to pay their rent faithfully, but do not have a good credit score. Those of us who have been paying attention in continuing education class will know that rent prices are rising at double the rate of salaries. For tenants stuck in the Rental Trap, this situation will only worsen and the pool of renters with good credit will  decrease. Therefore, it behooves us, and landlords to look into rental history, not credit score.

I hope the person who submitted this question is listening, because, obviously, they are open to new ideas. It is sad that an idea as FUNDAMENTAL as RESPECTING A PERSON’S PRIVACY must be considered new.