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10 Basic Facts About Tenant Screening Reports

Jul 14, 2020 7:16:30 AM

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Landlords and leasing agents want reliable tenants, but many of them fail to thoroughly screen potential renters. They aren't intentionally lax with their approval requirements; they're just unsure how to find quality tenants. A paper rental application may seem like a helpful tool, but unfortunately some applicants will always be dishonest. Potential renters can fake references or falsify data, whether they list their best friend as a former landlord or have their sister pretend they're gainfully employed.

That's why many landlords rely on tenant screening services for timely, accurate information. An online rental application often reveals surprising information about potential renters, especially when it's reviewed and validated by a tenant screening service. This reduces your risk of financial losses and legal battles, but it also protects other tenants. Before you approve another renter based on their self-verified information, consider these 10 basic facts about tenant screening reports.

1. Tenant Screening Services Help You Stay Compliant

Eviction court isn't the only legal battle you might face as a landlord. Federal guidelines established by the Fair Housing Act prohibits you from denying applicants based on certain criteria, such as their religion, national origin, or disability. It may seem easy enough to avoid these issues, but some landlords unintentionally ask discriminatory questions during the application process.

Tenant screening services help prevent this issue by only searching for nondiscriminatory information about potential renters. They also help keep the application process consistent so you don't ask each applicant different variations of the same question. Consistency is important because you can experience legal trouble if you reject an applicant for a specific reason but then approve another applicant with the same history or traits.

2. Tenant Screening Services Fill Vacancies Quickly

Potential renters and landlords alike often dread the residential application process because it's lengthy, especially if you use paper applications. Applicants must complete paper applications by hand then landlords manually review each section. This often takes days — sometimes even weeks — depending on how many applications a rental receives.

An online rental application simplifies the approval process on both ends by:

  • Eliminating stacks of paperwork for both parties
  • Preventing interpretation issues that arise from illegible handwriting
  • Letting applicants complete their application anytime rather than waiting to pick up an in-person application
  • Making it easy to submit completed forms at the tenant's convenience instead of waiting for an appointment
  • Bundling tenant screening services with the initial application if desired

You lose income when your residential properties are vacant, so every minute matters during the rental process.

3. Tenant Screening Services Verify Address History

At first glance, a rental application may appear complete, but many applicants — either intentionally or accidentally — leave off some of their previous addresses. This makes it difficult to determine if an applicant truly has a solid rental history or if there are gaps that require an explanation.

Sometimes applicants leave off addresses where there were issues, so it's important to get the full address history of each applicant. You may discover that an applicant failed to list a previous home due to a poor payment record or unethical activities, even if the renter was never formally evicted. You may also discover that an applicant hops from home to home, never staying in one place for more than a few months. This may not matter if you offer short-term leases, but it's good information to have if you're looking for someone to rent your home long-term.

4. Tenant Screening Services Assess An Applicant's Overall Risk

Tenant screening services from MyRental help predict whether each applicant is likely to fulfill their rental obligations. Our digital risk-management system generates a three-digit score between 200 to 800 for each renter. A low tenant score indicates a high risk, while a high score means a renter is unlikely to flake on their rental agreement.

Here are some factors that influence a tenant score:

  • Bankruptcy history
  • Credit bureau data
  • Payment records
  • Prior evictions
  • Property damage records
  • Work history

We work with thousands of landlords, so we understand which traits reliable tenants typically possess. Our tenant scoring process helps you decide between multiple applicants who want the same home or determine whether to give a new renter a chance.

5. Tenant Screening Services Offer Renter Comparisons

Sometimes you may want additional information after viewing a tenant score. Our Tenant Score PLUS compares renter scores in your city, zip code, or metro area. You can even find out if local landlords have accepted applicants with scores similar to your potential renter's score.

We present this information in a user-friendly chart that clearly highlights the data you need. Review the percentage of applicants who scored at or below your renter's score as well as the percentage of landlords who rejected similar applications. If you decide to approve the applicant, we offer a convenient welcome letter that you can send directly from our program.

6. Tenant Screening Services Find Sex Offender Records

Many renters are uncomfortable living near sex offenders. If your rental is located near a school or daycare, it might even be illegal for sex offenders to reside in your property. However, some sex offenders don't willingly disclose their criminal history. This may drive other renters away from your property, resulting in lost revenue.

Some landlords check local sex offender records but fail to consider that crimes can happen in any state. We check registries in all 50 states as well as Guam, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. Our records come from multiple agencies, including local police departments and federal agencies.

7. Tenant Screening Services Identify Previous Rental Problems

Adding a question like "Have you ever been evicted?" to your rental application doesn't always identify tenants with bad rental histories. That's because some tenants fail to list former rentals or have friends and family members take on the identities of former landlords. Before you call any references, let us check each tenant's eviction history for you.

We quickly find and identify:

  • Default judgments for possession
  • Consent judgments for delinquent rent
  • Warrants of eviction
  • Unlawful detainers

We also run each renter's Social Security number through our database to see if an applicant has applied with other landlords who use our services.

8. Tenant Screening Services Offer a Full Credit Report

A credit score provides some clues about an applicant's financial habits, but it doesn't show the whole picture. We run full credit reports on each tenant — with their consent — so you can make an informed decision. This helps you pinpoint potential issues and evaluate how an applicant has progressed over the years.

For example, you may have an applicant with a low credit score due to delinquent student loans from 5 years ago. You may initially consider denying this applicant until you realize they haven't paid any credit card bills or car loan payments late in years. This applicant may actually be more stable than an applicant with a high credit score who has recently maxed out their credit cards and had several accounts sent to collections.

9. Tenant Screening Services Help Keep Your Neighborhood Safe

Some landlords diligently check the local sex offender registry but unintentionally overlook other crimes. This may result in rentals filled with felons who have destroyed public or personal property, abused children or assaulted partners. You may feel uncomfortable renting your homes to tenants with records of this nature, so it's vital that you run a thorough criminal record screening prior to approval.

A criminal record check provides detailed information about crimes, including the type of crime and whether an arrest or conviction occurred. This helps you distinguish between felons with a violent history and folks who've been arrested for forgetting to pay a traffic ticket on time.

10. Tenant Screening Services Identify Potential Fugitives

Not all terrorists have criminal records, so it's easy to accidentally rent a home to a suspected fugitive. This puts your entire community at risk, plus makes it difficult to prevent and recover from financial losses.

We review several databases during the tenant screening process, including reports from:

  • FBI Most Wanted Fugitives
  • S. Secret Service Wanted
  • S. Drug Enforcement Agency Wanted
  • S. Department of Justice Wanted
  • FBI Most Wanted Terrorists

A fugitive may trash your rental property or perform illegal activities on your premises, and you can't exactly collect past-due rent or property-damage funds from someone behind bars.

Finding the right renters for your properties isn't easy, but we help simplify the process with online applications and tenant screening services. This helps you make educated decisions and reduce the risk of financial losses, property damage and unhappy neighbors.

Topics: tenant screening

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