How to Choose the Best Tenant Screening Services
Tenant screening services provide numerous benefits for landlords and property managers. They’re convenient, efficient, and allow you to focus on other aspects of your business. However, not all screening services are alike. Many of them vary in terms of the types of reports and support they offer. So, what should you look for? How do you know which screening service is best?
Here’s a list of things you should look for:
A Full Product list
If one of your goals is to save time, you’ll want to avoid screening companies that only offer one or two types of reports. Make sure to choose a vendor that offers all the reports you need; this not only saves time but also makes it easier for documentation purposes. Click here to see a complete list of TSCI’s tenant screening services, including tenant verifications, credit checks, and background checks.
Credit Score and Credit Reports
Credit scores and reports are essential for determining if a potential tenant will pay their rent on time. However, some tenant screening services may offer limited credit reports or just a score. While this is better than nothing, it doesn’t give you the complete picture. A full credit report should include:
- The applicant’s personal information (social security number, name, and address)
- Credit accounts, limit, and score
- Loans, balances, and payment history
- Public records, such as bankruptcies or collections
Criminal Background Checks
Some tenant screening services may only run a state-specific background check, which means the applicant could have criminal records in a different state, and you wouldn’t know about it. It’s always best to choose a company that offers screening through a nationwide criminal record database.
Does the company provide an eviction history report, and if so, does it show court actions related to an eviction? Is the eviction history state-specific or from a nationwide database?
Another thing for you to consider is pricing. How much does the service cost overall, and how are the products priced? Does the company offer bundles or a la carte options? While both have their advantages, it’s best to work with a company that offers both options, so you have flexibility. Bundles are cost-effective and convenient, and they might be the best choice for the majority of your screenings, but what if you want to add on an additional service?
Another thing to look for is a clear pricing structure. Avoid companies that don’t have their prices listed on the website or aren’t responsive in answering questions about pricing. Professional tenant screening companies will have their prices clearly listed on the website.
Who Pays for the Screening?
Tenant screening services can add up, especially if you’re screening a large number of applicants, so it’s important to know who will be responsible for the cost. Does the company offer an option to defer the cost to the tenant? If you’re responsible for the fees, are they low-cost and reasonable for the service and reports you’re receiving?
How long does the whole process take, from ordering the reports to being able to view them? The turnaround time should be reasonable for the amount of information you’re receiving. Stay away from instant screening reports that are available as soon as you pay; these are often pulled from automated databases and may not contain the level of detail you need – and even worse, they may have outdated or incorrect information.
Does the company provide free online forms, like rental applications the applicant can fill out?
A Secure, Easy-to-Use Online Platform
Ordering your reports should be easy and secure for you and the applicant. The more difficult a platform is to navigate, the less likely you (or an applicant) will want to use it! It’s important to find a tenant screening company that has an online ordering process that can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection. The platform should also provide clear information on the types of reports offered.
Accessible Customer Support
Nothing is more frustrating than needing an answer to a question and not being able to reach a live person! Avoid this issue by choosing a company that offers live customer support. Look for a screening service that has its support line clearly listed, like TSCI. You can contact us directly Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm PST at 1-800-523-2381 or reach us through our contact page.
Skip the Search and Choose TSCI
If you’d like to save time and resources on your tenant screening, you’ll find TSCI meets all of the above criteria. We provide comprehensive tenant screening and tenant verifications for landlords and property managers throughout the U.S. Our products are available online, 24/7, making it easy for you to order screenings whenever it’s most convenient for you. In addition to our traditional screenings, we also offer RentalConnect. Rental Connect offers an excellent alternative to the expense of full tenant screening. This service requires no on-site visits, sign-ups, or membership fees, and the cost of the screening is deferred to the applicant.
TSCI stays up-to-date and fully compliant with TransUnion, Experian, The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA), The Investigative Consumer Reporting Agencies Act (ICRAA), and the Nevada Private Investigators Licensing Board, so you can feel confident that the reports you receive won’t violate federal or state screening laws. We also maintain membership with the Professional Background Screening Association and have been accredited with The Better Business Bureau since 2014. For more information, visit our services page, or feel free to reach out to us with any questions you might have.
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