Recently, more and more landlords are getting help from tenant screening services - something that has increased partly due to the pandemic. According to the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), only 77.1% of apartment tenants made a full or partial rent payment during the first week of December this year. This data was collected from 11.8 million apartment units across the United States.
How can you, as a landlord, protect yourself and your properties from tenants who struggle to pay on time or even pay at all?
The best way to prevent rental issues is by screening prospective tenants beforehand. There are lots of tenant screening companies providing rental background checks on the market. You just have to find the best one for you.
Here are the top 8 tenant screening service providers in no particular order.
Cozy has moved to Apartments.com to offer the next generation of free online rental management tools, including a full range of tenant screening reports.
They provide an all-in-one suite of property management tools that make the rental process simpler. There is a dashboard for landlords where you can accept and screen potential tenants. On this platform, you can also create and sign leases, as well as accept and manage payments online.
Apartments.com is a streamlined system to get all the information you need to screen tenants. You’ll receive comprehensive credit reports along with reliable background checks from TransUnion.
Price range: Free for landlords
With Avail, you can select your preferred report and you’ll get screening authorization from the tenant. You can also choose whether you or the tenant will pay for it.
The company boasts of their comprehensive online screening process which includes a full credit report from TransUnion, tenant background checks, identity validation, nationwide criminal history, and any eviction history. After the screening process, they will also provide you with rental lease templates that you can create for your chosen tenant.
Price range: $30 to $55
E-Renter offers tenant screening packages and reports that are 100% accessible online. They also serve all 50 states with no on-site inspection.
E-Renter sends reports in an hour or within the day and they provide live phone and email support.
Price range: $21.95 to $36.95
4. First Advantage
First Advantage was named as the best tenant screening service in 2020. They boast proprietary databases, high quality and regularly updated public sources, and expert customer service.
They provide various background check services for several industries depending on organization size. For more detailed information, reach out to them regarding residential background check solutions.
Aside from their broad scope of services, they also have a library of white papers and datasheets to provide landlords with references. They also provide a human review process to avoid false positives.
Price range: To be discussed.
LeaseRunner provides an all-in-one service for landlords. They have tenant screening services, online rental applications, lease documents, and payment collection.
LeaseRunner is proud to have the most tenant screening choices and the best flexibility on the market. They mix and match credit, criminal, eviction, and cash reports. They screen for pre-qualification first, then screen for a criminal background check to make sure they cover all bases.
Price range: $10 to $21 per transaction with no monthly fees
MyRental provides the following screening services: Credit Report and Score, Eviction and Address History, Multi-state Criminal, Multi-state Sex Offender, and SafeRent Score reports.
Their SafeRent Score helps identify tenants who are more likely to pay rent on time, treat the property with care, and stay for longer periods. This feature is proven to predict lease performance which evaluates prospective tenants throughout the country using data and analytics.
Price range: $24.99 to $34.99
RentPrep allows you to create a free account so you can get started with the tenant screening process straight away. Their reports have add-ons depending on the information you need - so you won’t be forking out for services that aren’t relevant to you.
RentPrep offers an easy-to-use interface that makes it simpler to screen tenants. Aside from tenant screening, they also offer a rental background check and tenant credit check.
Price range: $21 to $38
SmartMove boasts of its capability to predict tenant behavior better than credit scores can, by using ResidentScore. Aside from the usual credit, criminal, and eviction reports, they also provide income insights where you can work out if your prospective tenant will be able to pay on time.Plus, you can get tenant screening reports in minutes through their easy process.Price range: $25 to $40
Why a tenant background search is so important
Gone are the days when you can just make your rental property available to whoever is looking for a place to stay. Accepting a tenant that hasn’t been properly screened could turn out to be a headache for you.
They might be unable to pay on time (or pay at all), they could cause damages or even a dispute that ends up in a legal battle. The frequent turnover and cost of repairs can be stressful. Not to mention the fact that you have to go through a rental background check all over again.
Tenant screening companies can help you avoid running into these issues. The screening process can be completely digital, involving scouring online database records and sending reports to the landlord, or could be a mix of digital and human tenant credit and background check efforts.
How to choose between tenant screening companies
Now that you have read the tenant background check reviews, it’s time to choose which one would best fit your needs. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a tenant screening service:
Is there an online rental application that the tenant can complete from their computer or smartphone?
Can the screening fee be paid by the tenant to prove their interest in your property?
Does the criminal background check report show the prospective tenant’s past convictions on both state and national levels?
Does the rental history report indicate the previous locations where the prospective tenant lived and for how long, including information of eviction?
Is the tenant screening report sent to you after a few hours to make sure that you and the prospective tenant can finalize the agreement at the earliest possible time?
Are there different ways to receive the tenant screening report, such as an email link or by logging into an online portal?
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