Any reviews on RentPrep for tenant screening?

51 Replies

I'm surprised there are no reviews here either! I'm the owner of RentPrep and longtime member of BP, as well as a landlord. RentPrep has been around since 2007 and is unique in the tenant screening industry because we are a real screening company with FCRA Certified Screeners. When most reports provide instant info straight from a single database, we create each report by hand - researching multiple record sources. Because of this our reports are more comprehensive and contain the eviction and criminal records that are misfiled and never make it into the databases.

And of course feel free to reach out to me directly through BP, I'm happy to help however I can. Much like BP, we exist solely for the purpose of helping landlords and investors.

I have used it.  I don't have a lot to compare it to, but I liked it.  Pretty easy to use and I was usually surprised how quick I got the info back.

I did, once, pay the extra for their service of calling the previous landlord/employers, etc and I didn't think that was worth it (I know how important this is, I did it more out of curiousity!) It seemed they attempted one phone call, and if no answer, then that was it.

But just for the record search stuff, I would use it again.

I use RentPrep exclusively for all my tenant screening needs, and have been for several months now.  I find that their prices are fair, the information is fast and very accurate, and their customer service is great.  

I'd recommend them without reservation.

@Stephen White  does Rentprep verify that the person that they are speaking to is the real landlord or property manager?  Some applicants will have a friend pretend to be the landlord.

Do I have the option of adding some additional verification questions?

Also, have you had any instances where you did not catch someone falsifying information?

Originally posted by @Rhonda E.:

@Stephen White  does Rentprep verify that the person that they are speaking to is the real landlord or property manager?  Some applicants will have a friend pretend to be the landlord.

Good question but why would the applicant (via a friend) call RentPrep? To gain access to their information? I know that RentPrep does require a copy of photo ID from the landlord or property manager when a credit check is ordered. They also require a digital copy of the rental application. That is to ensure that you are who you say you are when you request such sensitive information. I don't know if they use verification during phone calls. Again, that's a good question. But could you clarify the hypothetical situation you are concerned about? 

Thanks for your ideas and reviews, everyone. @Stephen White , thank you for your offer! I do plan to try RentPrep when the time comes. 

@Deborah Smith we'll leave up to 3 messages to get a hold of a landlord or employer. After that many messages, there's not much more you can say to get someone to call back. Not only that, but to keep a reasonable turn-around time, we have to set some parameters. If we leave 3 unanswered messages, what works best at that point is to let the applicant know - 

"hey your background check is complete except we haven't heard back from your employer/landlord yet, can you tell them to return the screening company's calls so we can give you our final decision?"

If they're good tenants, the landlord or property manager will no trouble returning a message. Employers too.

I looked specifically on your reports Deborah, and I see that we were able to verify all of the information within 2 phone calls. Except for an employment verification, whereas the supervisor was out of town for a week and nobody else could verify the information. The nice thing is that you have all the date and time stamps to see each phone call and conversation. 

As far as the data goes, I see we were able to find several evictions so I can see how you would find that extremely valuable. I appreciate the vote of confidence. Just let me know the next time you're ordering and I'll upgrade your report for free so we can take another shot at impressing you with the verification phone calls :)

Disclosure: I am the owner of RentPrep

@Rhonda E.  we certainly do run into situations where people falsify the information and give their friends phone numbers. There are several ways to combat this issue;

- ask loaded questions. If the applicant completed the rental application they should have provided information such as their monthly rent amount, the address of the rental unit, and their move-in/move-out dates. These are all things that a landlord/property manager would know when asked "how much are they paying for monthly rent", but a friend who is only prepared to say "they're a great tenant" typically doesn't know the detailed information. This makes the no-blank-spaces-policy on the rental application all that more important. 

- another way to ensure you're talking to the right person is to verify the number provided. Any landlord can this through a google search. If they provide a number that supposedly goes to Village Green Apartments, but the number shows up in google as a private cell phone, there's an obvious red flag. We have the luxury of using our databases to see the exact person the phone number is registered to, so verifying even private landlords can be done. 

- use their address history on a screening report to fill in the gaps. If they claim to have lived at only 2 residences over the past 3 years, ask them to explain why 4 addresses are showing up within that time period.

Finally, to answer your question directly about having an instance where we did not catch someone falsifying information - yes, this has happened. It's not often, due to the fact that we have a lot of tools and procedures in place to avoid these situations, but I have seen some sophisticated bad tenants. We had a case several months ago where a woman went as far as creating a website to look like the property management company that was renting to her. She listed her boyfriends phone number as the contact number and when we typed it into to google to find the business everything looked legit. When we called the boyfriend he was well prepared to answer even detailed questions. Thankfully she had a handful of judgments and evictions so the landlord made the right decision in the end and didn't rent to her. 

As I said, these are rare cases and unfortunately there will always be people who will go way out of their way to beat the system. But as landlords all we can do is have solid screening procedures in place to catch these and perform our due diligence. Tenant Screening is a lot like hand sanitizer that kills 99.9% of germs - there will always be that small percentage that slides under the radar.

@Stephen White  Thanks for the info!  Yes, I have had several fun applicants with evictions.  :) Some with several!  I definitely plan to use RentPrep again, as your staff has always been pleasant and very responsive.

Thanks @Travis Murray , and you're right we do require the landlord to authenticate their identity the first time they order the Credit Check report. This is the alternative to have the tenant heavily involved in the screening process that comes with services like smart move. This credentialing step allows us to perform the search WITHOUT requiring the tenant/applicant to receive and respond to an email that makes them jump through additional hoops, in addition to completing your rental application. Some landlords (myself included) feel that this additional step leaves the applicant in complete control of the screening process. In other words, if they don't take the time to jump through the hoops, you won't receive the report. Other landlords have the mentality that if the tenant is not willing to jump through the additional hoops, then they're not motivated enough to pass the screening process, which I can also understand. 

This additional step for landlords is not only a one-time process, it's only required for the credit portion of the report. Keep in mind every time a credit report is pulled from a bureau an inquiry is generated. The credentialing is authenticating the inquiry, proving that you have permissible purpose to view credit information. For the actual background check portion of the reports (SSN verification, Address History, Eviction History, Criminal, Judgments, Liens, Bankruptcy) no additional steps are required because the data does not come from the credit bureaus. 

This is by far the most controversial and confusing regulation in the screening industry. Especially since it recently changed in 2009, so many landlords are accustomed to the old days of requesting a credit report and getting it without the additional steps. We all play by the same rules in the industry, so no matter the choice in companies you use for screening you'll have to decide if they fit into your screening procedures.

Originally posted by @Stephen White :


- use their address history on a screening report to fill in the gaps. If they claim to have lived at only 2 residences over the past 3 years, ask them to explain why 4 addresses are showing up within that time period.


I don't ask the applicant why those additional addresses show up. I simply get the owner info for those places at the date given on the credit report and contact those owners. The landlords they don't want you to talk to are the ones you MUST talk to ...

I have had reports come back with non-existent addresses that were definitely mangled by some data entry person because they were quite similar to the real address on the application; so you have to weed out bad data that is contained in any credit report and get at the actual facts. 

@Joe Gore I was going through and answering in order my friend. Today being the day before the 4th of July we're extremely busy so I'm checking in on this board every chance I can and trying to provide quality responses to everyone's questions and comments. Hopefully you noticed that.   

Now to answer your question - our turn-around time is typically 1-2 hours. If you order the Platinum Package we make verification phone calls, so the turn-around time can depend greatly on how fast landlords and employers pick up the phone. Since we are a national company, we serve all areas of the US, even Petal, Mississippi. 

Sorry for the delay, I'm trying to help as many landlords as I can today!

@Joe Gore  we use 3 independent data providers for our criminal records. As I'm sure you're eluding to, databases are known for missing information and inconsistencies. Pulling records at the county level (standard for employment screening, but not tenant) is the only way to ensure 100% accuracy. Unfortunately it's not a standard in the tenant screening industry because each county charges their own access fees. And since those fees vary from state to state and county to county, getting a fixed fee on that screening package would be impossible. And in counties like Erie County, NY where I live, the fee is $65 per applicant. I don't know a landlord anywhere that would pay that for every potential tenant they screened, including myself. 

So to keep the landlord's cost down, while still providing better data, we search each database individually by hand - no instant results or blind entries. This means even if the applicant purposely provided the wrong SSN or name (which we see all the time), we can still find the correct data and run the report. The information is then cross-referenced for accuracy and FCRA compliance, which sometimes includes a call to the county courts for verification.

The direct answer to your question is technically both - we search by database, and by hand. County record searches are only as good as the database providing the information as to what county they lived in previously. If the applicant lives in Mississippi, but had a criminal record in Texas, you'd have no way of knowing to search that jurisdiction without using a database for that information. Let me know if this helps answer your question.

@Stephen White,

Thanks for your reply. The state of Mississippi criminal record search can only be search by going to the courthouse not from some database. Most screening companies will search the prison database and call it a criminal search.

Joe Gore

@Stephen White  Does your screening also include searching court records to check if applicant has sued previous landlords?