This post is provided by TransUnion SmartMove®, a leader in tenant screening technology. I do not promote many products on this site, unless I personally use them and think they are a good value. SmartMove tenant screening, is how we complete background checks, credit checks and learn the history on all applicants for my rental properties. It has made a world of difference in the quality of our tenants and is extremely easy to use. You can learn more about the tenant screening services they offer here.
Of all the uncertainties involved in renting properties to tenants, the most basic question is: Can I trust this individual to pay rent on time? Besides the tenant paying rent on time, landlords are also concerned about tenants trashing their rental property. One of the biggest fears of a new landlord is picking the wrong tenant, who costs them thousands and thousands of dollars.
Actually, many questions arise when one of your rental properties opens up and a prospective tenant appears promising.
- Have they paid rent on time in the past or skipped out on payments?
- Do they have a relevant criminal record or a history of prior evictions?
- Is this tenant the right fit for my property?
These are the types of questions that are sometimes difficult to answer on your own. Many landlords try to save a few bucks, by not running credit or background checks, but this can come back to bite them. Mark can attest he had some issues with landlords before he and his team started doing a more thorough job of screening their tenants.
Fortunately, there’s a better way: online tenant screening can help answer these questions.
Why tenant screening allows greater control over your leasing decisions
It used to be that independent landlords and property owners had to rely on a “gut instinct” regarding tenant applications. But for every time that gut instinct proved right, there were many occasions when they turned out to be wrong—sometimes disastrously so, resulting in costly, drawn-out evictions. If a landlord did want to run a background check or credit check, they would have to collect social security numbers and other personal information many people would rather not handle.
Fortunately, today’s landlords have far greater control over their leasing decisions. Online tenant screening enables them to review a tenant’s credit, criminal and eviction history before making any type of commitment to rent to them. With the right tenant screening package, they can pinpoint warning signs and lower their risk of missed payment and eviction notices—well ahead of the fact.
And since total expenses for a typical eviction notice average $3,500 (as of 2014, according to TransUnion data), it makes good business sense to take advantage of this online technology now.
Gaining access to the same data as big property management companies
TransUnion SmartMove® provides the same in-depth information on credit, criminal, and eviction FCRA-regulated data as that employed by large property management companies. There’s really no better way to get a complete picture of your potential renters in a comprehensive, easy-to-digest format. The large property management firms have spend millions of dollars to figure out the best data to use when picking tenants. With SmartMove you have access to that same information.
Here’s what you get with SmartMove tenant screening services:
- A TransUnion credit report formatted exclusively for rental screening purposes
- A criminal report draw from over 200 million nationwide criminal reports
- A national evictions report based on information from a database of more than 24 million eviction records
- A clear, dependable, credit-based leasing recommendation of whether to accept or decline the applicant
The more you know about a potential tenant, the better decision you can make based on his or her credit, criminal and eviction history. This type of information is probably your biggest asset in making this key decision. With comprehensive tenant screening, you can find great tenants and better protect your rental income.
A note from Mark on tenant screening
We just rented rental property number one again. The previous tenants were in the oil industry and were transferred out of state. Whenever we look at applicants, we always get a SmartMove report. It does not cost us anything, since we charge an application fee to prospective tenants. Charging that application fee also ensures the tenants are serious and we are not wasting our time, checking references and running reports.
One of the tenants we were considering for this property was very honest and said he had no credit. He was very worried about being considered and was even willing to pay a few months rent upfront. We ran a credit check, which showed he actually had great credit, and everything else checked out great as well. We might not have considered this tenant without that report. Likewise some tenants will try to hide their past, or credit problems, but the SmartMove report will find those problems helping you choose better tenants.