What are tenant screening services?
Allowing an unqualified tenant to move into your property can potentially lead to costly losses from damages, failed payments, legal actions and frequent turnover costs. Tenant screening is a process of checking an applicant’s financial and criminal background to try to predict if they are likely to be a tenant who does not consume your rental profits. The process ranges from fully digitally reviewing online database records and incorporating that research into a report for the owner, to a mix of digital and human research efforts.
What does a tenant screening report mean?
A Screening Report gives the landlord insight into how the applicant will fare as a tenant based on their track record. For example, a landlord can see if an applicant has a history of late rent payments and if the applicant has ever been evicted, and in many cases for what reason.
Landlords can also check to see if a potential tenant is making enough money to comfortably pay rent each month. In some reports, owners can see if an applicant has a lot of personal loans or student debt, for example, to see if they earn enough to cover all their debts and expenses.
How long does an eviction stay on a tenant screening report?
To comply with FCRA rules, evictions must not appear on a tenant screening report after seven years. If a claimant discovers that an eviction that is more than seven years old has appeared on a newly run report, they have the right to file a dispute.
Landlords want to know the eviction history of applicants, as it can be a predictor of future behavior. This is an opportunity for landlords to review why an eviction occurred by reviewing the judgment, asking the plaintiff or calling the evicting landlord to get the full story.
How much does a tenant verification service cost?
Basic plans for tenant screening services range from $19 to $25 per pre-screened candidate. You can negotiate a wholesale price discount with some companies and get almost half the price cut. At the basic level, you’ll usually get credit, address, and employment history, as well as social security number verification. Criminals and sex offenders research is usually added as a detailed supplement, or it is bundled into the next more expensive plan level.
At the high end, premium plans cost around $40 per candidate screen. The third pricing model used by many review companies is the custom quote process. In these cases, a landlord or realtor speaks with a customer service agent to discuss the criteria they wish to select and the number of tenants they wish to select per month, in order to negotiate a price.
How We Choose The Best Tenant Screening Services
We looked at 18 tenant screening companies before deciding on our top seven recommendations.
The main factors we considered in our assessment were FCRA compliance and staff training, company history and reputation, accreditations, pricing plans, what the plans included and there were hidden charges. We considered the speed of selection based on whether the company relies solely on database algorithms or complements the technology with human research verification.
Every company we have recommended complies with FCRA regulations. Laws change over the years, so an FCRA-compliant screening company stays abreast of the changes and supports the homeowner with a properly drafted denial letter to give to the applicant.
Companies that embraced technology for speed and efficiency, but also checked with human research efforts, also performed best in our review. Credit databases often contain errors, such as closed loan accounts indicating that there is still debt owed. Some have old information that can no longer be taken into account, such as bankruptcies more than seven years old. There are criminal judgments and other legal judgments, especially in county court records, that never end up in national crime databases. Therefore, the companies that made our shortlist did not rely solely on database algorithms.