Tenant Screening Tips

8 Replies

My husband and I are still fairly new to REI. We've only been doing this for a year and a half but we have 8 units. All of our rentals are higher end ($1300 a month) for this area. However, we just closed on a triplex that is in the $650 range per unit. This is the first time we have had to actually screen the tenants as most of our others were inherited. Another landlord told me a website he uses. I was wondering if anyone else uses Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website when screening tenants?


I check that on my applicants prior to doing a credit/criminal report via my smart move by TransUnion.

I have found its worth paying for the report through Trans Union.

For all my rental properties, I have all potential tenants fill out an rental application and I tell them there is a $50 non refundable fee to run a credit, background and criminal check. I use MyRentals.com, it is very user friendly and you get instantaneous response.

@Casey Moen we use mysmartmove.com for the backgroundchecks - it's a Transunion company and it makes the whole thing incredibly easy. They leverage the data they already have in house. Here is how it works: First we review the paper aplication, if everything looks ok we send them an invite for the screening on mysmartmove. They go online, enter their personal information including SSN (which I don't want to have) and pay with their credit card for the service. Tenants accept that in lieu of the customary application fee without any questions asked - after all they pay this directly to a third party. It usually takes only a few hours before the final report is ready: financial background check (payment history, credit score, limits, collections etc), criminal and evictions and sexual. Mysmartmove calculates a "rent score" which makes it easy to compare between two applicants and if you have to denie one based on the lower score (helps with fair housing and discrminiation laws). Based on a set of predetermined criteria you have set earlier they also give you one of three recommendations: accept, accept with conditions or denie. This gives you solid ground for your decisions and makes them very easy to defend if you should ever have to. I have stopped calling previous landlords (it's a pain and nerver seems to yield any useful information anyway) and employers (we ask for a paystub as emplyment veryfication). The "data fingerprint" usually tells the story much better than you can find out from calling references. We are here in Wisconsin, but I believe the service is available nationwide.  

I would agree ccap is excellent resource for initial tenant screening.

My theory : ccap if I notice three or more evictions is initial tenant I personal do 

not care deal with.

Reason : immediately pro tenant and he/she most likely already know their way 

around the housing community loop holes.

Mention smartmove : a few potential tenants come up with excuses regarding moving forward 

and stop returning your emails/telephone calls.

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