Screening potential tenants for your rental property is essential. At a minimum, you should check the applicant’s references. Reference checks do not generally require an applicant’s consent, but it’s a good idea to inform them of your intent to follow up on the references they have provided. A more thorough background check/credit check will normally require the applicant’s consent.
Before you begin the screening process, you will need a written rental application. This will allow you to collect the necessary information from your applicants, including name, Social Security number, and reference contacts in one document. Having all that information in one place will make it easier to follow up on references, and will give you the information you need to perform a background check. To see a sample pro-landlord Residential Rental Application, check out the AllBusiness.com Forms and Agreements center.
Background checks can be expensive, and if you have several applicants, the costs can be overwhelming. For that reason, some landlords request that applicants pay the cost of background screenings.
Once you have collected your applicant’s information, you are ready to begin the screening process. Busy landlords often prefer to hire a service that specializes in providing background and reference checks for rental properties, which will free up their time to manage their property. Fees and services vary among the different agencies.
The National Tenant Network (NTN) provides a variety of services for landlords. It operates a national database and has provided screening for more than 8 million rental applicants. This service allows landlords to form a nationwide network, which can help identify chronic problem tenants. In addition to its database, NTN provides background checks that can turn up tenant performance, eviction histories, and criminal problems your applicants may have had in the past.
RentGrow is another screening service that provides a wealth of services for landlords. It has a screening system that enables you to customize your search to screen applicants according to your criteria.
Tenant Screening Services offers many different options for background screenings, including criminal histories and past judgments.
SafeRent is a consumer reporting agency that provides consumer information and reports to help you screen potential tenants.
Tenant Data offers screening services online as well as by fax, telephone, and mail. You can get reports on past-due rent payments, damage reports, noise complaints, criminal histories, and more. You can also check an applicant’s credit history, making this a one-stop solution for many landlords.
These services are a boon for busy landlords who cannot find the time to do background checks themselves. It also gives landlords the opportunity to avoid problem tenants, and provides a clear picture of their past performance. It may cost a little more up front, but it can save you money in the long term.