What to Look for When Choosing a Tenant Screening Service

By Ashley Paskill on April 16, 2024

Tenant screening is incredibly important for ensuring you are renting to people who will pay rent on time and be good tenants in general. While you can do it on your own, there are screening services you can use to help save you time and hassle. As with anything, you need to be sure the service you choose is a great fit for you and your rental property and will help you find the best tenants. Knowing what to look for can help you find the best tenant screening service.

Edit the application

When you are looking at potential services to use for screening tenants, choose a service that allows you to edit the questions on the application. This way, you will be able to ask the questions that will cater tenants to your specific property and you will have an easier time finding the perfect tenant for your property. If you do decide to go with a screening service that does not allow you to edit the questions, be sure that the questions cover everything you need to know and that the questions are legal, and that protected classes are not discriminated against based on certain questions.

References

Asking for references is crucial when screening tenants. The screening service you decide on should have a way to ask for references, whether that means having references send an email or fill out a form that is sent to them or having the applicant provide contact information. Either way, these references are crucial as they will give you a chance to get to know an applicant beyond their own words. An applicant can say they are a great tenant and can hold a job consistently, but hearing it from a reference can help solidify and verify this information.

Relevant information

When choosing a screening service, it is important that they cover the most basic and important information. There should be a way for the service to provide background checks and criminal history checks for potential tenants. These checks can help minimize risks for future problems on your property. Looking into a potential tenant’s credit history is important for making sure they are able to make payments on time. Online credit report websites can help you screen tenants if the online application you use does not directly do this. You should also see if an applicant has a history of eviction. Be sure to look into the reason for the eviction and ask about it in the interview or reference check if you need further clarification.

Image: Cytonn Photography via https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-gray-twist-pen-and-white-printer-paper-on-brown-wooden-table-955389/

Pricing

While it may be tempting to go with a free or cheap screening service, this may lead to disappointment in the future. It is important to realize that tenant screening is an important investment that can impact the future of your rental property. Choosing a company that costs a bit more can be beneficial in the long run as they are likely going to be more thorough and can help find the best tenants. Check with your local municipality to see if you can legally charge your tenants a fee for the screening services. This will help you cover the cost of the service without having to raise rent. Paying for screening services is less costly than having vacancies on your property.

Data security

You are likely going to choose a service that is solely online or that uses an online application to screen tenants. As such, it is crucial that you are confident that the applicants’ data is secure and safe. Make sure you ask about this and look to see if they have had any major data breaches in the past. Your applicants deserve to know that their information is safe and will not be mishandled by you or an outside screening service.

One-stop shop

While some companies focus on one area of screening a tenant, you may want to look into a screening service that has all of the tools you need in one place. These include the rental application, background check, credit report and credit score, references, and even the lease. This will help you and your tenants stay organized by having everything in one place. It is easier to manage this way and your tenant can ensure they have submitted everything they need.

General tips

If you decide on a screening service, be sure to do face-to-face interviews, just as you would with doing the screenings yourself. This way, you can get a sense of who the person truly is in person beyond the application. Be sure the potential tenants have a way to contact you directly if they have any questions or concerns about the application. In general, make sure everything is done legally. Choose a service that has great customer support and can answer your questions in a timely manner.

Tenant screening can be time-consuming, but using an outside service beyond your property management team can help save you time. Knowing what to look for in such services can help ensure that you find great tenants while keeping you and applicants safe.

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