Is mysmartmove.com a tool for landlord....the answer is NO

23 Replies

I have been using the https://biggerpockets.mysmartmove.com for several years. and I found that even the smartmove.com claims that benefit is that tenants can get get their credit reports generated without giving out their social security numbers, meaning their identify is protected.

In realty, this product is only good for the tenants, but a disaster for landlords. Because when tenants do not pay rent, landlord can NOT report them to the credit bureaus due to lack of SS#. and the credit score comes out higher than if you get from other services. So my previous tenants were pleasant surprised that they got better credit scores.

In summary to landlords, my recommendation based on real life experience:

1.DO not use smartmove.com to screen tenants...There are better softwares.

2. DO get tenants' SS. Period.

Rachel Zhang

I feel you on this on @Rachel Zhang

Knowing that you have some ability to keep tenants from "getting away with it" gives us landlords some peace of mind.

I've never used MySmartMove, but the lack of SSN transparency sounds like a fatal flaw.

@Rachel Zhang I'm confused by what you are saying. The smart move website says that they keep the SS# private but not that they don't collect it. Am I misunderstanding? I understand that Smart Move does not release it to the landlord, but I always ask for SS# on my applications and to see their card.

Is the SS# thing the only reason you would not use them? Or are there other things one should be aware of? If you could elaborate it would be appreciated.

The smartmove.com keeps the SS#, but they will not disclose to you when you request it. So it is misleading to landlords that smartmove.com markets this as a winning feature. As landlord, you need to collect the SS# on your applications. Smartmove.com's credit score always come out higher than if you run the reports from other resources. That means that they probably run a generic report without looking into details. Several of my tenants were surprised that they got better scores from this website.

Please Google this subjects and learn services from other service providers. I want to report this problem so that other landlords will NOT repeat the same mistakes. .... All products appear fine until there are issues coming up, then you will find the holes and it is late and they will not help to solve it.

As an individual landlord, you need to use the same screen criteria as the professional property management company, ask them for SS#, drive license, bank deposits, pay-stubs.. the more strict that you are upfront, the less problems you will have later on. Please be professional and firm on rental requirements. Some tenants like to rent from individual landlord, because they know that individual landlords are flexible on requests and not always demand on late fees etc. and Tenants take it not as a sign of consideration, but a sign of weakness.

Thanks for the explanation @Rachel Zhang

I always ask for the info you stated above. In addition I verify phone #'s given for employers, landlords, etc. before I even pick up the phone. And I do call all of them. I also perform record checks on my own and look them up on Facebook. The credit is the last thing I look at and I only look at it if everything else is up to muster.

Once they are in the property, I do not tolerate late rent - EVER. You may be late once with a good believable excuse, but it won't happen again.

You are right - many less than stellar tenants target individual landlords because they think we won't check or will be more lenient. I surprise them. I am probably more strict than a lot of apartment communities in the area and I don't budge. I know who my tenant base is and how they operate. I would rather see my property vacant a little longer than take an "iffy" applicant who will cost me a lot more than a months rent later down the line. They all have sob stories and I say "I am sorry to hear that, but you don't qualify to rent from me"

Thanks for the heads up!

Thanks for your feedback. We can all learn from each other.

When the tenants can not pay the full amount of rent because of unemployment, and indicate that they can pay partial and will come up with the rest when they get new job, what do you do? Of course I prefer them to break the lease and leave. Would you decline the partial rent and start eviction immediately by starting with the 3 day pay rent or quit? What I found is that they promised to pay late fees if you accept the partial rent. Then next month, they just want to pay the rest of balance and not the late fees.. and then they changed their promises as fast as you can keep track of them. When they started the lease, they appeared to be reasonable, decent human beings.... and it puzzled me that they could change to be different people. The only reason that I accepted partial payment is that I thought they were decent people having temporary difficulties.

Please experienced landlords, De-mistify the human nature of the problem tenant. How to decide when to work with them, when not to? Or always go by the set procedures. I believe that some landlords decide to not evict right away, is also due to the paper work and time and money required to file eviction. What's your comment or experience?

Originally posted by Rachel Zhang:
Please experienced landlords, De-mistify the human nature of the problem tenant. How to decide when to work with them, when not to? Or always go by the set procedures. I believe that some landlords decide to not evict right away, is also due to the paper work and time and money required to file eviction. What's your comment or experience?

Sometimes you have to trust your instincts, if you are going to be a little flexible. If the tenant has been good, and been with you for years, and establishes themselves, then you can extend them a little trust. But if they break that trust, don't keep trusting them, start the eviction process and get them out.

I'm not familiar with mysmartmove, but whether you use it or not, you should always get he tenants SS #. You will need it if you ever get a judgment against them and want to collect.

@Rachel Zhang I think Dawn has given some good advice. All situations are different and unique. If I had a tenant that lost their job and they had always paid their rent on time, and were model tenants, I might work with them.

First I would want to know if they still had a smartphone, cable TV, a new car, etc. These things are nice but not necessities. You HAVE to have a place to live, therefore you pay your rent before anything else. If it appeared that they were genuinely trying by scaling back etc. I may work with them, but I would have to ask, given their situation, how will things be different next month? Will they find work that quickly? If rent wasn't a priority this month, and they are already behind, how will they catch up AND pay the months that follow without a job.

People can be very good at trying to play on others emotions. I don't think I would accept anything but full payment + late fee by X day or I would serve the 3 day (this costs nothing but the time to type it up for me) sometimes it may be enough for them to realize it's not something I'm going to tolerate. If not, then just follow through with the eviction. The longer you let it go the worse it will become, I have learned.

Sometimes good people fall on hard times. Being a landlord is a business of risk and I'm learning that there is no better teacher than experience.

@Rachel Zhang -

I would never recommend a landlord not capture the SS # of a tentant. That's certainly a critical piece of information to have. Whatever product you use (note -- many tenant screening products use Smartmove as a back end from my understanding), you certainly want to capture a tenant's social for the reasons you explain.

I certainly don't see this as a flaw with the software product. It just seems like a step you need to add to your due diligence.

Ladies and gentleman of the 21st century. The term "landlord" is best associated with feudalism. Henceforth Lessor's (LR) will be referred to more accurately.

LR's, would you hand over you Social Security (SS#) and bank routing number to a complete stranger? No way! Why would you give the keys to your financial future to a complete stranger with no guarantee of safety  and no recourse if lost or stolen?

That's exactly what you expect Lessees (LE) to do. LR's demand SS# for the purpose of credit and criminal backgrounds checks are creating an unnecessary workload for themselves, inadequate security of private data for the LE, added cost to the LE, and an unnecessary barrier to entry.

The market is willing to address such inequities between LR, LE's and I applaud such efforts.

Trulia, Zillow, Redfin, Bigger Pockets, and so many other services have changed the real estate industry forever.

It is my sincere desire that COZY, TransUnion MySmartmove, and any other service poised to change the archaic and insecure practice of LR's nakedly demanding from LS's their SS#, deprecate and make obsolete this practice.

Thank you COZY, and thank you TranUnion MySmartmove for reversing this insecure, intrusive and archaic practice.

I have rented many things in my over 40 years of life including, automobiles from Enterprise, AVIS, Hertz, boats or sea craft from various establishments in various states, and yes countless hotels around the world.

Instead of asking me for a deposit they feel entitled to and SS# that is the most sacred of identity data, they simply put a hold on my credit card. If only LR's wern't so insecure and archaic in comparison to the worlds leasing practices, life would be easier and more secure.

@Account Closed

Many bordering on probably 50% of renters don't have credit cards like you do.. and they don't travel the world staying in HOtels.. hell half the renters in the US will be born raisesd and die within a 10 mile radius.. just ask any used car dealer who sells on credit in these areas.

you have outliers like WEst coast and other prime EAst coast and Denver these days.. But for the rest of the US your completely out of touch vis a vi who the renters are at least in my very experince and owning 350 SFR rentals

Originally posted by @Account Closed :

I have rented many things in my over 40 years of life including, automobiles from Enterprise, AVIS, Hertz, boats or sea craft from various establishments in various states, and yes countless hotels around the world.

Instead of asking me for a deposit they feel entitled to and SS# that is the most sacred of identity data, they simply put a hold on my credit card. If only LR's wern't so insecure and archaic in comparison to the worlds leasing practices, life would be easier and more secure.

Without ss# it's pretty difficult to file a successful judgement against them, unless they have an unusual name. In my low-income neighborhood, I have to deal with a lot of evictions. I'll never see the money again, but at least I want them to have a judgment against them, so that it'll be a little more difficult for them in the future.

Originally posted by @Joshua Dorkin :

@Rachel Zhang -

I would never recommend a landlord not capture the SS # of a tentant. That's certainly a critical piece of information to have. Whatever product you use (note -- many tenant screening products use Smartmove as a back end from my understanding), you certainly want to capture a tenant's social for the reasons you explain.

I certainly don't see this as a flaw with the software product. It just seems like a step you need to add to your due diligence.

 If you collect a SSN but don't try to use it for anything, such as a credit pull, how are you supposed to have any idea if it's actually their SSN?

I've had folks walk into my office with actual filed tax returns showing a SSN that was not theirs. I don't have reason to suspect anything until I pull credit and the "AKA" names and past addresses make no sense ("Julio" having an AKA of "Jessica," he told me he's always lived in CA but the credit report has a bunch of Alabama addresses on it and only 1 CA address, etc), and I don't know for sure until this form comes back from the Social Security Administration - https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-89.pdf / https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-89-sp.pdf

Originally posted by @Jay Hinrichs :

@Michael Douglas   your totally out of touch with reality..

you don't destroy your hotel rooms.. unless of course your a rock star I am not familiar with

@Joshua Dorkin

Many bordering on probably 50% of renters don't have credit cards like you do.. and they don't travel the world staying in HOtels.. hell half the renters in the US will be born raisesd and die within a 10 mile radius.. just ask any used car dealer who sells on credit in these areas.

you have outliers like WEst coast and other prime EAst coast and Denver these days.. But for the rest of the US your completely out of touch vis a vi who the renters are at least in my very experince and owning 350 SFR rentals

 @Jay Hinrichs Your cliche and inflamitory remarks wouldn't help you be progressive in the lest bit. Just in case I dug up an old article for this old post:

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/dec/23/realestate...

But the real question is, can screening occur with out nakedly asking for a SS#? Yes.

https://www.landlordology.com/do-landlords-need-so...

Increasingly applicants don't a SS#. Laws have changed that hold LR's liable for discrimination for declining such applicants.

https://www.landlordology.com/california-landlord-...

The law does not protect the LR's when asking for SS#. In fact it places more burden on LR's for asking. The trend is shifting against LR's asking for SS#. I for one, welcome this change. Screening is one thing, putting black mark on a LE's for something they haven't done yet is lumping all LE's together. That's as well thought out as the Patriot Act. As innefectual as nationwide NSA spying. Like it or not, the market is changing. There is no going back to the good ole days.

Ironically illegal immigrants that don't posses a SS# are on the rise and it's violation of Fair Housing Laws to discriminate against not proving a SS# if an applicant does not possess a SS#. By law U.S citizens are NOT required to provide a SS# to LR's.

http://caanet.org/qa-tenant-screening-and-immigration-status/

That's OK.  They can refuse to provide a Social Security Card and matching photo drivers license all they want.  Just as I will refuse to consider them as a prospective tenant.

Stephen, I totally second that emotion.  My putting my keys into the hands of someone that have too much to hide can't be hiding out in one of my rentals.

back to the OP...  don't u have a lease application where they have to put their ssn? I am confused.. 

who cares if SM would give you their ssn...  you have it on the lease application.  unless u don't have one.  then.. . it's on u. 

@George P. I agree that you should be getting that information on the rental application.

There are pros & cons to SmartMove.

We've added SmartMove as one of our screening packages when we've traditionally only created custom background reports.

Some landlords like the ability to charge the tenant directly and others want the tenant to have no part in the process.

SmartMove is an applicant driven service where they control the flow of the process. With SmartMove they get a copy of their credit report that they can then share with the landlord using a "token" system.

This gets around issues with having to do a "site inspection" which is required for a landlord to see a full credit report.

So some landlords like SmartMove because you see a full credit report including credit score. It also has the ability to directly charge the applicant.

Some don't like the service because it doesn't replace a full background check. It has access to some of the instant databases but not as accurate to a custom built report.

For instance, we cross-reference multiple databases for eviction history which gives you a clear picture of past evictions. I would take our eviction search over SmartMove's any day.

So it all depends on what matters to the landlord.

@Max T.    "So what service do you recommend over smart move?"  That's what I'm wondering, as well??

I know that some REI's are recommending "screen the tenant" dot com (Ron LeGrand, for e.g.) to run background and credit checks, passing the expense unto the "tenant buyer" in the case of a "terms" deal, for example. I would like to know what alternative services are the MOST ACCURATE and COST EFFECTIVE to get current BACKGROUND information on US citizens, in particular? I've noticed that many larger PM companies refrain from even running background checks... stopping at credit, employment and references, etc. This is a big MISTAKE... and potentially HUGE liability issue, for any number of reasons! (Like for instance: violent people, drug dealers, addicts, etc.) And it's no "accident" that larger PM companies AVOID criminal checks, since ever fewer renters can PASS a "felony" check, every year.

Updated almost 4 years ago

AND BTW: There's also a mountain of INACCURATE, erroneous and positively (and purposefully?) SLANDEROUS very sketchy so- called "background" info on websites like "Mug Shots dot com" (arrest records do NOT equal convictions, people) and the like (and the same company owns most of these sites) which many "amateurs" are now foolishly using to "prescreen" people for jobs to tenancy, etc., when the data is (quite often)100% FALSE, mainly since the primary purpose of these websites is EXTORTION of funds, to "remove' the false information! (And yet Google, etc. doesn't BAN these sites!?)