Best Tenant Screening Companies

5 Replies

What is, in your opinion, the best tenant screening company online and why?

I looked at options like Cozy and MySmartMove. They seem to require the tenant to create an account basically run their own reports. Is there not a way to run them myself without the need for the tenants involvement?

i use cozy. im pretty sure the tenant does not need to create an account, you just put in their email and Cozy contacts them directly and handles the rest. you can also select whether you pay or they pay for the service. Normally i charge the application fee to the applicant, except for military in which i cover the fee. 

the thing i like about this service is you dont have to handle any of the applicants personal information or SSN. i do believe that if you take applicants PII and SSN you are required to have secure storage and prove you are keeping their information secure. As a small manager you may never be called out on this, but for me its one less thing to worry about and less fodder for potential law suits. 

@Mason Jeffries Not all platforms require that the tenant create an account (Innago, for example, permits anyone to come in and apply). Some will even create a dedicated url for you that you can share on Zillow, Craigslist, your website, etc.

You cannot simply go to a service and run the background check yourself due to consumer and privacy protection laws. In order for you to screen tenants directly yourself, you need to become authorized. This typically includes paying a fee and passing an on-site visit. An independent verification service will evaluate your business to ensure you're taking the proper precautions to protect consumer data (like properly storing and disposing of the information you receive), and to prevent any nefarious access to that personal data.

In addition to the liability you then take on in managing the data, you also likely will be doing what's called a hard inquiry on the applicant. This actually lowers their credit score. Services like Cozy, MySmartMove and Innago do a soft inquiry that has no impact on the tenant's credit score.

I've been using MyRental for credit and background checks, eviction history, etc. for the past couple years. It has been very reliable. You tee everything up for each prospective tenant and then they receive an email requesting SSN and PII. I appreciate not having to see or handle any sensitive tenant information. Potential tenants seem to prefer it that way as well. It's always a "soft" credit hit, which is all you need.

It typically runs about $28-35 per individual and that fee covers both the credit and background check services. As long as the tenant is responding quickly and thoroughly, I find that I typically get the full reports back within 24-48 hours. It's worked well for me so far!

@Mason Jeffries I would recommend checking out the landlord resources tab. BiggerPockets has recommended screening companies showcased on their site. You can also find the link I attached by hovering over the "Tools" tab and then clicking on "Landlord Resources" under services.

Not every screening company requires the applicant's involvement in the process to place an order.  I recommend doing some research on the companies shown on BiggerPockets and choosing what site may best fit your screening needs.

Goodluck with your investment!