Best Tenant Background Check: Tenant Screening Services and Websites

article by Maria Perinic
February 19, 2020
Tenant background checks are increasingly used by landlords as well as property managers in order to determine if an individual is the right choice to rent out their home or apartment. This is especially true if you have a multifamily property as you will want to vet potential tenants for their own safety.
Tenant screening services should be used as an automatic part of the application process, no matter whether you accept applications in person or online. This essential piece of the application process is essential as it can help protect both your property and the other tenants that are entrusting you with safety within their living quarters.

Want to know how to do a background check on a tenant and the tenant background check laws that are involved? Keep reading to find all that out as well as what the best tenant background check is for you.

What is a Tenant Screening Search? How Do You Do a Tenant Background Check Search?

A tenant background check is a thorough screening solution used both commercially and individually by property owners. It allows them to secure their investment by selecting the right person to rent out their property.

Landlords will always want tenants that pay rent consistently and on time, not break their lease and not damage their property. They will often look into nationwide criminal records, sex offender searches, employment summaries, past addresses, and past tenant history to determine whether you are the right fit for their property.

For example, there are plenty of things to consider when it comes to whether a person with a criminal record should be invited into a property. This includes the charge as well as the date of the incident. Maybe a landlord will have no trouble renting out their property to someone with a misdemeanor record, but not someone that has a felony in their past.

Anyone with a questionable employment history is also sure to raise some red flags. If they are regularly losing their jobs, it might give an indication that the tenant will be unable to pay their rent on time. Someone that has frequently moved might prove to be quite a liability.

All of these factors might not be a concrete reason for a landlord to deny a prospective tenant the right to rent their property, but it can open up conversations to clear things up.

So, who pays for a background check, the tenant or the landlord? If the landlord wants to find out about you they should opt to pay for the background check to make sure your affairs are in order, but it isn’t always the case.

Want to know how to do a background check on a tenant? Just look up any of the following tenant screening services and relax knowing you will soon have all the answers. Click here to find out the do’s and dont’s of performing a background check.

Our Top Picks for Best Tenant Background Check Out of All Tenant Screening Services

When choosing the best tenant background check there are a number of things we took into consideration. This includes:

  • Pricing
  • Criminal background checks
  • Landlord, residence and evacuation history
  • Income and employment verification
  • Unique features
  • Customer service
  • Customer tenant background check reviews

With that said, below you will find the best tenant credit and background checks available at the moment. There are also some free options you can check out, but we would always opt for a premium check as it won’t miss any important details.

#1 RentPrep

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This tenant screening company has two major screening packages as well as a free pdf version of a rental application. You will have the ability to receive a credit report which is more of a pass or fail star rating, with four stars representing a very good or excellent credit.

A RentPrep background check costs $18.95 and will consist of SSN verification, address history, judgments and liens, eviction report, and bankruptcies. There are also add-ons that you can choose including verification calls which will set you back an additional $12 or national criminal as well as sex offender reports which cost an extra $4. If you’re wondering who pays for the background check- the tenant or landlord, the RentPrep background check is paid for by the landlord.

It should be noted that RentPrep doesn’t offer instant reports. Usually, you will have to wait about one or two business hours after your order. Additionally, if you wish to make verification calls, that can take 24 hours to complete during the business week.

Start Your Free RentPrep Account Today

#2 SmartMove (By TransUnion)

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This is TransUnion’s tenant screening service for any property owners that are not property management professionals. If you opt for this report, you will be given a credit report, eviction report as well as a background check. All for a cost of $35. For an extra fee of $12, you can also get your hands-on rental history verification as well as employment history.

With SmartMove, you can choose to let the tenant pay for the service. All you need to do is sign up for a free account, choose the SmartMove package, order any extras if you wish, and when those documents are uploaded, you will be asked to pay online. The great thing about this service is that you will be able to verify the tenant’s identity within minutes. This has been consistently stated in different customer tenant background check reviews.

Sign Up For Free Today

#3 Experian Connect

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Experien Connect customers will not be offered a rental application, but the applicant will need to fill out an online form in order to verify their identity as well as allow you access to view their credit report for a period of thirty days.

The report with consist of a VantageScore credit range taking into account the name, address, previous and current employer credit history, credit inquiries as well as public record filings like foreclosures, bankruptcies, civil judgments, and tax liens.

The applicant will have to pay $14.95 for the credit report and the turnaround time is as soon as the tenant is able to verify the identity and grant access to the report. It should be noted that Experian Connect is more or less a credit report and will not include things like a criminal record search or a dedication eviction history. It is a great option if you’re looking for basic features, but if you’re looking for a more robust report, it might be a good idea to choose any of the other listed services.

Join Experian Today and Enjoy All Experian Benefits

#4 MyRental

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There is a free rental application that can be filled by applications online. MyRental uses a range of information from credit card bureaus, payment history, and bankruptcy records to determine your potential tenant’s score. There are a number of packages on offer with some of them including a full credit report, eviction history reports, and nationwide criminal records.

The three reports include:

  • Basic – $19.99
  • Premium – $29.99
  • Premium Plus – $34.99

The Basic plan will afford you an eviction and criminal background check, but will not include credit history information. The Premium will give you the benefits of the Basic package as well as a credit report and score. Lastly, the Premium Plus plan includes statistics as to how the applicant fared in comparison with other renters in the area.

So who pays for the background check, the tenant or landlord? You will decide amongst yourselves who pays for the fee.

Create MyRental Account Today, With No Sign-Up Fee

#5 E-Renter

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This tenant screening company has three packages on offer and all of which come with simple to read reports. This service searches public records data of all 50 states in order to find potential eviction data for all screened tenants. You will be provided with information like court name, case number, defendant name, plaintiff name, date, address, and defendant SSN.

Criminal reports include state and county information, file date, charge information, fine probation, disposition, and sentence information. The three reports include:

Basic Tenant Screening Background Check – $19.95

  • SSN Validation
  • Social Security Death Index Check
  • OFAC/Patriot Act Search
  • Evictions
  • Bankruptcies
  • Liens & Judgments
  • Criminal Records Search
  • See Criminal Coverage Areas
  • Sex Offender Search
  • FCRA compliant background check

Basic Tenant Screening Background + Credit Check – $29.95 + $1.99

  • Basic Background Check plus
  • Tenant Credit Check

The Tenant Credit Check is based on (but does not include) the applicant’s credit file and FICO score. It also considers bankruptcies, collections, and judgments.

Premium Tenant Screening Background + Credit Check $34.95 + $1.99

  • Basic Background Check + Credit Check plus
  • Applicant’s Previous Address(es)
  • Applicant’s Phone Number(s)
  • Applicant Identity Check
  • Validate Applicant Name
  • Validate Applicant Address
  • Rent Check AdvisorSM

Get Started With as Little as $19.95 Today

Why You Should Conduct a Tenant Screening Search

Failing to give a prospective background check authorization form for the tenant and ask the right landlord tenant background check questions can be incredibly detrimental, not to mention costly.

For example, a tenant that has a poor rental history and has undergone many convictions is more than likely to turn into a nightmare tenant. They might not pay their rent on time or even damage the property. Conducting a tenant background check will help landlords avoid this.

Consider a registered sex offender that puts you as the landlord at risk for a lawsuit if your property is located anywhere near a park or a school.

A violent tenant with a clear criminal history might try to harm someone else on your property leaving the landlord to pick up the pieces as well as additional legal fees when the victim takes the landlord to court.

An enormous red flag is if a potential tenant doesn’t even want to start the tenant screening process. This might mean they have a shady past, or could even have stolen someone else’s identity. That’s why it’s imperative to make sure that the background check authorization form for the tenant is filled out.

What Information Shows Up on a Tenant Background Check

There is a myriad of information that should show up a great tenant background check such as:

Country or State Criminal Record Check

While having a criminal record won’t automatically mean you’re ineligible to rent an apartment, this decision is essentially up to the landlord. You have to keep in mind that the landlord has the responsibility of keeping their property and any other tenants living in your close proximity safe.

Should a landlord choose to deny your application based on your tenant criminal background check record, they are obliged to notify you in writing. They must also give reasons as to why you were denied as well as provide a copy of the report.

Sex Offender Registry Check

In some states, the law prohibits landlords from discriminating against convicted sex offenders. An example of this is California, however, other states have different laws in regards to sex offenders and landlords so it is important to check tenant background check laws and be informed. In the states where it is allowed, landlords are able to use tools such as sex offender searches in order to screen for any offenses linked to a person’s name or location.

Credit Report

One of the obvious factors a landlord will take into consideration is a credit report. This way, they can find out whether a potential tenant is financially responsible or if they might have trouble receiving regular payments.

Although your landlord will not be able to see your credit score, they will be able to view your loan accounts, bankruptcies, accounts up for collection and whether you have been sued previously for not being able to pay your rent.

Proof of Income

This is similar to a credit report. Landlords might request to view proof of income to make sure that tenants have a regular income and will be able to pay their rent with a tenant credit and background check.

Previous Landlord References

In addition to asking landlord tenant background check questions, your potential landlord could also ask for references from previous landlords. They might double-check your ability on whether you paid your rent on time and how long you were there. Other questions might relate to how well you looked after the property in question and whether you were clean.

Eviction History

A tenant screening background check should include your eviction history. This might be through previous landlords or they can also look up your credit report or even county court records to find out whether you were ever sued for eviction.

Employment History

Sometimes, your tenant screening background check will look into your employment history. This will allow them to confirm whether you are currently working and if you have had great lengths of unemployment in the past. They might also speak to your current employer to find out whether you are a trustworthy employee.

It should be noted that landlord-tenant background check questions must fall under the jurisdiction of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) should the landlord use tenant screening report. If they are the ones completing the tenant criminal background check then those regulations do not apply, but they must comply with the Fair Housing Act. This prohibits them from discriminating against any individuals on the basis of color, race, natural origin, religion, age, marital status, gender, disability, or pregnancy.

With that being said, however, your landlord is able to deny you the ability to rent their property if anything negative comes up on the tenant screening report.

Conclusion

A tenant background check is something that every landlord should thoroughly consider conducting. It can look into a potential applicant’s employment history, past tenant history, criminal history and many other elements related to renting out properties. The above-mentioned best tenant background checks are all excellent choices, but failing to choose one of them could be detrimental to the landlord in terms of property damages as well as financial losses.