What Is a Tenant Screening Service?
A tenant screening service is a company that provides background data on a prospective tenant. Depending on the services you choose, this can include eviction history, credit reports, criminal background checks, and more. Screening services are typically used by landlords, real estate agents, and property managers of all sizes.
Tenant screening services help landlords know who will potentially be renting their property. They’re necessary because the more the landlord knows about the tenant’s eviction history, credit score, etc., the more they can predict if they will be a suitable tenant. For example, a tenant with no evictions and a high credit score is less likely to not pay rent in fear of harming their credit score.
How Do Tenant Screening Services Work?
Reputable screening services follow state and federal guidelines and information privacy acts to provide background information including eviction reports, Social Security number verifications, credit reports, and criminal history reports. This data is gathered, offered to the tenant when necessary, and is then provided in report form to the landlord or property manager.
How Much Does the Best Tenant Screening Cost?
Tenant screening services can be purchased individually or as bundles. As the landlord, you can choose which screening services are important to you and what your budget will allow. Some of the services are paid monthly and others are paid per report. Still others can be paid directly by the tenant. You can choose the screening service that suits your budget and method of payment.
You can order an individual eviction report for as little as $7.99. You can choose to have the tenants pay for their own reports—typically about $55 for credit and criminal background reports—or you can choose a package deal for as little as $5 per month per unit.
Is Tenant Screening Worth the Cost?
Regardless of the size of your rental portfolio, tenant screening services are definitely worth the cost. It’s far better to pay small fees upfront, rather than run the risk of thousands of dollars in eviction costs, unpaid rent, and damaged property. Of course, tenant screening services can’t guarantee that none of these will happen. However, they are less likely to happen if you rent your property to a well-qualified tenant. This is because qualified tenants are less likely to want to risk their credit and eviction history by not paying rent.
Tenant screening services should generally be used by all landlords and property managers. It doesn’t matter if you own one single-family home or 500 apartments, your goal is to make the highest return on your investment. Tenant screening services help you do just that by reducing the chances of evictions, excessive property damage, and/or months of unpaid rent.
How We Chose Tenant Screening Services
To find the best tenant screening services, we looked at 15 different companies. We researched them to find out how reputable they are, what their customer reviews reported, their individual pricing structures, ease of use, turnaround times, and what screening services they offer. To finalize our list of the best, we chose the screening services that offer diverse services, quick turnaround times, and positive reviews.