A couple years ago I had this question myself. At that time I visited the local credit reporting office in my town, and while they used to run screens on behalf of landlords have stopped that activity. That is also true of pretty much every local screening company. Property managers can run background screens, but only for their own clients. This leaves the question, how does a private landlord screen their prospective tenants without a huge hassle? I’ve been asked this dozens of times and I’m happy to say I have the answers.
If you are a landlord, it’s actually quite easy. The FCRA allows “tenant screening” as a permissible purpose for running certain background checks, including full criminal background screens, bankruptsy, eviction, and judgement checks. You just need a reliable provider. This can be obtained easy enough by googling ‘tenant screening’. Which ones are reliable though?
What I’ve found is most tenant screening companies are using extremely limited databases. None of them actually disclose what data they are using, or how they got it, or how complete it is. With that, it’s more or less just a guess as to if they have valid data. Most tenant screening companies suggest you use one of their packages which include a “nationwide” search of some sorts. I’ve found these less than accurate as well because their nationwide results tend to only have results if they specifically have already scanned for that particular record. What are the chances? Pretty slim indeed. It often equates to a substantial investment in invalid results. I’ve even heard that some landlords use multiple screening companies paying two to three times what they should as a result.
Because of the guesswork, and game of chance out there, and since we have lots of landlords using Rentec Direct for it’s property management software capabilities, we’ve worked out a partnership with a premier data screening wholesaler to be able to provide tenant screening services directly to our customers. The quality of the data is second to none.
One might ask, “how is it different than the rest”? Great question! While we offer similar nationwide and statewide searches, most of our nationwide and statewide databases are updated extremely frequently with complete records from that state. This differs from many screening companies. Additionally, and this is a major difference, we offer an intelligent search (Intellisearch) feature which at no cost to you scans the entire previous address history of your prospective tenant. It then recommends the specific local products designed to give you the most accurate results for this tenant. After all, why spend 4 times as much out there on a broad nationwide search when you can learn the specific locations this tenant has lived and run state and county level searches which produce up to date, and flawless results for as little as $6. By the way, our comprehensive nationwide criminal, which includes the nationwide sex offender database, is only $9.95 for Rentec members.
We’re currently offering a 2 month FREE trial to Rentec Pro which includes a 30% discount on all screening products.