RentSafe Powerful Tenant Screening

Devin Henry

A property with a “For Rent” sign on the front.

Rental Listing Website Trends 101: Hip or Hype?

The advancement of technology and the rise of the sharing economy are spurring property managers and landlords to leverage rental listing websites to expose their properties to a wider audience. 

Classified ads in the local newspaper or word-of-mouth were the primary means of marketing a rental property, once upon a time. Today’s property managers have the advantage of many online tools at their disposal to reach potential tenants.

Finding a rental property has also changed dramatically, with potential tenants using rental listing websites as their primary search tool. These sites offer several advantages for tenants and property managers, including greater exposure, screening tools, and detailed listings.

Not all rental property listing websites are created equal, though. Some sites offer greater exposure and more features than others, and with new sites popping up, it can be hard to keep track of the latest trends. 

Let’s take a look, then, at the top property rental websites and what makes them the best choice for property managers. This comprehensive guide will walk you through these sites, their benefits, and the best ones to use.

What Are Rental Listing Websites, and How Do They Work?

These sites are online platforms that allow property managers and landlords to list their rental properties to target a wider audience of potential tenants. The landlord or property owner will create an account on the site and post detailed information about their rental property, including:

  • Monthly rent price
  • Square footage
  • Photos of the interior and exterior
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Special features or amenities
  • Pet policy
  • Contact information

The listing will go live on the site once it’s verified, and potential tenants can browse properties that match their needs, budget, and location. The rental listing company will notify the landlord or property manager when a potential tenant is interested in their rental property and provide them with the interested party’s contact information.

Benefits of Rental Listing Property Websites

Landlords are always highly motivated to fill their rental units as quickly as possible to minimize vacancy loss, given the 46.9% average turnover rate. What better way to do that than by listing your rental property on a rental listing website? Here are some of the top benefits of these sites:

1. Increased Exposure

These sites give you access to a wider pool of potential tenants, which means your rental property will get more exposure than if you were to list it on classified ads or through word-of-mouth.

2. 24/7 Availability

Rental listing sites are available online 24/7, making it easier for potential tenants to browse rental properties at their convenience.

3. Detailed Listings

Most of these sites allow landlords to include detailed information about their rental properties, which helps potential tenants learn more about the property and decide if it’s a good fit for their needs.

4. Saves Time and Money

Leveraging a listing site is a more efficient and cost-effective way to find tenants than traditional methods like classified ads or word-of-mouth. It’s also free to list your rental property on most of these websites, saving you time and money you can channel to other areas of your business.

5. Access to Tenant Screening Tools

Many rental listing websites offer tenant screening tools, which landlords can use to run background checks on potential tenants, including their rental history, and weed out any unsavory characters. This helps landlords save time and money by only interviewing qualified candidates. Lack of proper tenant screening can cost landlords thousands of dollars in damages and lost rent.

The benefits of these sites ultimately serve to improve both landlord and renter experience, saving them time, effort, and potential headaches down the road. It is also important for both parties to use the top websites available, as this will play a role in finding the ideal tenant-landlord partnership. 

The Best Rental Listing Websites

Choosing the right website is essential to the success of your rental property business. All of these websites have different features, sizes, listing categories, ease of use, and pricing plans, so selecting the one that best suits your needs is important. Below is a comprehensive list of some of the best listing sites available, complete with their key features and pricing:

1. Zillow

One of the most popular rental listing sites is Zillow and its unrivaled breadth and depth of data. It boasts the largest inventory with over 135 million homes and apartments for rent or sale, most site traffic, and built-in tenant screening tools. 

Zillow offers a first free listing for landlords but charges $9.99 weekly for additional listings. Landlords and property managers can upload 3-D view virtual tours, high-quality photos, and video walkthroughs to increase the visibility of their rental listings. Listing on Zillow is a relatively easy process and can be completed in minutes:

  • Create an account on Zillow
  • Add a detailed description of your rental property, including high-quality photos and virtual tours
  • Set your monthly rental price
  • Add your contact information
  • Publish your listing

Zillow’s mobile app allows landlords and property managers to add, edit, update, screen tenants, and communicate with applicants on the go. Renters pay a monthly fee of $29 to access unlimited listings for 30 days. 

Zillow offers many great features for landlords such as collecting rent, but managing security deposits and pet fees is a hassle and the property can’t be categorized to a specific neighborhood.


The rental listing site has been touted as the best website to attract qualified tenants. It has over 1 million listings, detailed property descriptions with high-quality photos, and is a go-to website for renters looking for apartments, condos, and homes. has a network of seven sister sites, including,, and, giving landlords more exposure to their rental listings. Features that make stand out include:

  • Tenant screening for credit and background checks
  • Online tour scheduling
  • Lease signing
  • Rent collection

Property owners can capture renter attention by:

  • Tagging their rental listing by neighborhood, allowing renters to search for rental listings in their desired area
  • Completing the amenities list to let renters know what’s included in the rental unit
  • Including high-quality photos and videos to give renters a realistic view of the rental unit

The site charges renters a small fee to apply for a rental listing, ensuring landlords are attracting the right applicants. Only those serious about renting the property will apply, saving landlords time and money.

3. Avail

Relative new kid on the block Avail is one of the more recent rental listing sites, and it is quickly making a name for itself as a go-to site for landlords and property managers. Avail offers a free rental listing for landlords and property managers and a suite of powerful tools to streamline the rental process. 

Avail offers an applicant’s eviction records, advanced criminal checks, national sex offender registry checks, and global watchlist checks, turning the usual protocol of standard credit history and criminal background checks on its head. 

Avail syndicates newly created listings to other top rental listing sites like Zillow,, PadMapper, HotPads, Zumper, and, enabling property owners to reach a wider audience. Landlords can also share their listings on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Avail’s intuitive interface makes it easy for landlords to keep track of rental applications, communication, and documents. A significant downside is that Avail offers a limited list of filters potential applicants can use to search for rental listings.

Avail has a free unlimited plan for landlords, which charges tenants $2.50 per bank transfer, and an Unlimited Plus, which costs a property owner $5 per month. Nationwide criminal background and credit history checks cost $30 each or $55 as a bundle, which the renter pays.

The top choices for rental listing sites and the benefits they offer can help guide both landlords and renters to find their perfect match, but landlords would be wise to add to their peace of mind by working with the professionals.

Streamline Your Rental Business with RentSafe

Juggling between rental property management, finding and screening tenants, and collecting rent can be a handful for property owners. RentSafe offers a suite of powerful tools to help landlords streamline their rental business by allowing property managers to add unlimited properties, screen tenants, and collect rent payments, all in one place.

Creating a listing on RentSafe takes one click of a button, allowing you to send a link to an applicant so they can create their account. Real-time alerts allow you to view the whole process on the Property Manager dashboard and get notified when an applicant starts the application, completes it, or if there is any activity on a file. 

Give us a call today to speak to one of our experts about how we can help you manage your rental business more efficiently.

Landlord’s arm extending to offer keys to a new tenant.

Property Management 101: 2023 Tenant Screening Checklist

Finding the right renters means asking the right questions during your tenant screening process. Tenant screenings are a way to delve into the tenant pool and find the best fit for your properties. Some property managers fear screening potential renters will scare them off, but if tenants are afraid of what will be uncovered, you don’t want them in your units. 

Renters spend almost $500 billion a year on rent and even though there are no signs of slowing this trajectory, it takes much more than willing tenants to be a successful property manager. Successful property management begins with the screening process.

Tenant screening is conducted in a variety of ways, and most property managers use more than one technique. Verifying income, checking references, and running a background check are all valuable tools landlords use to screen potential tenants. A tenant screening checklist is simply a list of all the tools you plan to use to vet your potential tenant. 

This guide explains the basics of a tenant screening checklist and how to put one together to help you find the perfect tenants. 

Checklist Criteria

Knowing the criteria each tenant needs to follow is imperative for a successful rental. Finding the right tenants is easier when you know what you’re looking for. It is illegal to use tenant screening criteria for discriminatory purposes – all your criteria must be considered fair to all parties, according to the Fair Housing Laws of the United States. Here are a few of the most valuable criteria property managers use to screen tenants. 

Income Verification

The tenant must make sufficient income to pay rent and still afford daily life expenses. You can ensure this happens by verifying their income with paystubs, bank statements, tax records, and employee letters. Just make sure the verification documents you receive are authentic and haven’t been altered.

Criminal Background Check

Checking into a tenant’s criminal background is essential. Most property managers aren’t too concerned with petty crimes or even more serious crimes that are decades old. They instead look for recent illegal activity and criminal charges related to what kind of tenants they might be. 

Credit Check

Checking into a prospective tenant’s credit history is a good way to tell if they pay their bills on time. It can also tell you if they have ever declared bankruptcy, had wage garnishments, or had any court rulings against their income. 

Talk to Previous Landlords

A quick chat with previous landlords can tell you a lot about what type of tenant you’re dealing with. Don’t be afraid to ask whatever you need to know. Most landlords are happy to relay their experiences with tenants, and you can find out if they were troublesome tenants or quiet peaceful people. 

Eviction Report

Obtaining an eviction report lets you know if the renter has ever been evicted from a property and why. It can also tell you the eviction address, landlord names, court rulings, and any outstanding money they may owe. 

All these criteria are necessary for a rental screening checklist – you can’t get a complete picture of the prospective tenant without one. The next invaluable step in the screening process is a face-to-face interview. 

Interview Questions

An in-person or even a telephone interview can help determine if the applicant fits your bill for tenancy. Asking the right questions is key. This is a great time to ask lifestyle questions that make a difference in your rental community. Check out these typical tenant screening interview questions.

1. Smoking

If you have a smoke-free property, you’ll want to ask if they smoke. This question is best asked in person so you can look for telltale signs and smells.

2. Pets

Pets are a touchy subject with renters, many of whom will do whatever it takes to move their pets in with them. If your property allows pets, be sure to ask about the number and type of pets the potential tenant has. 

3. Work Hours

Some people who work the night shift are noisy very early in the morning or vice versa. A good landlord must ensure that all tenants living near one another respect the same quiet times. 

4. Reason for the Move

It’s always a good idea to ask why the applicant is moving. They aren’t a good fit if they’re moving because their neighbor smoked and your building allows smoking, for example. 

5. Past Rent Issues

Ask the rental candidate if they have ever refused to pay rent or been in any situation with other tenants where rent was withheld for any reason. It’s one thing if there was a derelict landlord situation, but quite another if tenants simply made unusual and/or unreasonable demands. Both scenarios are something you want to know about.

You’ll have a better handle on the type of person you’re dealing with after you go through this tenant screening checklist. Your final task before conducting a complete tenant screening should be to ensure all your criteria are in line with the Fair Housing Laws.

The Fair Housing Laws and Tenant Screening 

What might seem like a normal conversation could be a fair housing violation that costs you thousands. There are a few things you must keep in mind to ensure your screening criteria adhere to the Fair Housing Laws.

  • Landlords may not discriminate against anyone of a protected class, including religion, race, age, sex, marital status, or disability.
  • All applicants must be held to the same standards.
  • Advertisements directed toward a specific protected class are not permitted.
  • Make sure you comply with state fair housing laws.

The screening process is a vital part of finding the best tenants that will ideally become a long-term, valued part of the community. It can seem daunting at first, but it gets easier as you continue to use your tenant screening checklist and become more accustomed to speaking with rental candidates. 

Getting Help with Screening Rental Candidates

It takes time to learn how to get the screening process right – a commodity property managers don’t have a lot of these days. RentSafe makes it simple. We are a digital service that helps landlords streamline tenant screening and allow renters to easily submit the requested documents. Contact the RentSafe team to see how our platform can help simplify your rental applicant screening processes.

A hand holding a magnet attracting money from a family home.

Top 7 Signs You Need to Start Using Rent Collection Services

Ask any landlord and they’ll tell you that rent collection is one of the most challenging and time-consuming aspects of property management. Tracking down late payments, sending out reminder notices, and dealing with the occasional tenant who doesn’t pay can make a landlord’s job even more difficult, so, it’s easy to see why so many property managers dread rent day.

Rent collection services can offer you major relief if you’re one of the many landlords finding that rent collection has become almost a full-time job. These services make it easy for tenants to pay rent online and help landlords keep track of payments, late fees, and evictions. 

Online rent collection services offer a range of features to help landlords with their rent collection needs, including online payments, tenant screening, and rent history checks.  Read on to learn what rent collection services are and delve into the 7 signs you should start using rent collection services for landlords.

What Are Rent Collection Services?

The term rent collection services may lead to think of a company that specializes in collecting late or unpaid rent. That’s certainly one aspect of rent collection services, but there’s much more to it. 

Companies that offer rent collection services provide a wide range of rent-related services to landlords, including online rent payments, automatic late fees, and rent debt collection services.

These services make it easy for tenants to pay rent online and offer landlords a host of features to help them manage their rental properties. Many rent collection services also provide screening services, so landlords can run background checks on potential tenants before they move in.

The best online rent collection services offer a wide range of features to landlords and tenants alike. RentSafe, for example, has an intuitive online platform that’s easy to use for both landlords and tenants. The results are real-time, so you always have the most up-to-date information. 

A tenant screening toolkit can get you access to detailed reports on each applicant, including criminal and eviction checks, full credit reports, income verification, and pet documentation, among other vital information.

Top 7 Signs You Need Rent Collection Services

Efficient and timely rent collection is vital to the success of any rental property business. It can be challenging to keep track of everything, though, especially if you have multiple properties. Here are 7 signs you need to start using rent collection services:

1. You’re Constantly Chasing Down Late Payments

Let’s face it. One of the most frustrating things about being a landlord is chasing down late payments. It’s time-consuming, nerve-wracking, and can take away from the time you spend on other aspects of your business.

Rent collection services can help if you find yourself constantly chasing down late payments. Online rent collection services allow your tenants to easily pay their rent and you can set up automatic late fees if rent is not remitted on time. 

Many collection services also offer rent debt collection services to help you recoup any unpaid rent, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business and leave the rent collection to the professionals. 

2. You Don’t Have Time to Screen Tenants Properly

Tenant screening is a critical component of rental management. Properly vetting tenants before they move in is vital to ensure they’re responsible and will take care of your property. 

Screening tenants can be time-consuming, though. You have to run background checks, verify income, and follow all tenant screening laws – and that’s just for starters. Ignoring these important steps could cause you to end up with a bad tenant who doesn’t pay rent on time or who causes damage to your property.

Rent collection services can help take the hassle out of tenant screening. Many of these services offer complete tenant screening services, so you can access detailed reports on each applicant with just a few clicks. This ensures you’re only renting to responsible, qualified tenants.

3. You’re Losing Money on Late Fees

Landlords often have to rely on tenants to remember to pay rent on time if they don’t have a rent collection service working for them. Life happens. Tenants might forget to pay rent or they might not have the money when rent is due. Landlords often lose money as a result.

Late fees help landlords recoup some of the money they lose when tenants don’t pay rent on time. Tracking down late payments and collecting late fees can be a hassle, though, with so many other tasks already competing for your attention. 

Rent collection services can help by automatically charging late fees when payments are not received on time. You can also set up automatic rent reminders so your tenants always know when rent is due.

4. You Have Multiple Properties

Managing one rental property can be a full-time job, but managing multiple properties is a whole other beast. Those managing multiple properties need to keep track of rent payments, tenant screening, maintenance requests, among countless other responsibilities. This can quickly become overwhelming and make it difficult to keep track of all there is to do.

You can manage all of your properties in one place with the help of online rent collection services for landlords. RentSafe’s intuitive interface, for instance, lets you add and manage all your properties in a centralized location, so you can quickly and easily keep track of rent payments, maintenance requests, and more. Talk about convenience!

5. You’re Dealing with Troublesome Tenants

Most tenants are responsible and respectful, but there are always a few bad apples. Problematic tenants can cause all sorts of problems, from not paying rent on time to damaging your property or otherwise violating the terms of their lease. Dealing with these tenants can be a real headache and take up too much of your time and energy.

Partnering with a rent collection service can relieve some of the stress of dealing with problematic tenants, including helping to streamline eviction. The rent collection service can automatically charge a late fee if a tenant doesn’t pay rent on time, and if they violate the terms of their lease, you can quickly and easily start the eviction process.

6. You’re Sick of Dealing with Paperwork

Fewer and fewer people are using paper checks anymore, as so many of us have realized what a hassle they are compared to paying online. You must keep track of all the checks, deposit them on time, and ensure they don’t get lost. This is a huge and unnecessary waste of time and energy!

Thankfully, you can say goodbye to paper checks with online rent collection services. Online rent collection allows tenants to pay rent with a credit, debit card, or an Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfer. The best part? The rent is automatically deposited into your account, so you don’t have to worry about losing any rent checks.

7. You Want to Save Time

It takes a great deal of time and effort to manage a rental property, from screening tenants to collecting rent to dealing with maintenance requests. There’s always something that needs to be done, and things like dealing with problematic tenants and those who have defaulted on their rent can push you over the edge.

Rent collection services can help by automating time-consuming tasks, including setting up automatic rent reminders and late fees. You can also use online rent payment and paperless rent collection to save even more time.

Renter statistics show that 83% of tenants say they would pay rent online if their landlord offered it as an option. This, coupled with their ease and convenience, should make the decision to use an online rent collection service the obvious choice. 

Contact RentSafe for Professional and Reliable Rent Collection Services

Managing your rental property can be overwhelming, especially when you have so many other things to focus on. Rent collection can be a breeze with the right professionals by your side!

RentSafe offers reliable and professional rent collection services that take the hassle out of rent collection. With online rent payment, automatic rent reminders and late fees, and paperless rent collection, we make it easy for landlords to collect rent and manage their properties. If you’re looking for a rent collection service that can help save you time and money, contact RentSafe today to speak to an expert.

Stack of $1 bills on the corner of a pay stub.

3 Surprising Ways Tenants Fake Income Verification Documents for Apartments and What Landlords Can Do About It

Authenticating income verifications and background checks is one of the many tasks of a property manager or landlord. Property management is a rewarding career for anyone who loves to organize, bring people together, and recognize the value of a happy neighborhood. It isn’t all fun and games, however. 

Some of the daily chores of maintaining a community can be challenging. Not all tenants are honest and courteous. Some have the sole intention of defrauding any community they can to secure a place to live. This act requires faking pay stubs and other income verification to obtain a rental agreement. This guide explains what income verification is, how people manufacture it, and what property managers can do to stop it from affecting their community. 

Income Verification Documents

Community managers must be certain a lease candidate can pay rent and uphold the responsibilities of tenancy before they offer them a rental agreement. Verifying this information helps ensure they are a good fit for the rental unit. Prospective tenants use pay stubs, bank statements, and tax documents to verify their income. 

Some rental candidates can’t pass the income requirements and resort to faking documents to rent a home. There are a few telltale signs that usually give fake documents away to alert community managers.

How Verification Documents Can Be Forged

Unscrupulous tenants can be quite creative when attempting to defraud property managers and landlords. Multiple techniques for faking income verification exist, from creating them from scratch to stealing them. These are the most common:


Certain websites allow users to create and print pay stubs. Some charge a fee while others are free to use. Most intend to be actual pay stubs for real work, but it isn’t difficult to plug in some fake information and print out a fraudulent pay stub. 


People familiar with word processing might opt to create their own fake income verification from scratch. Easily accessible programs such as Open Office or Microsoft Word work perfectly. Potential renters can simply create a phony pay stub or write a fraudulent income verification letter and print it out.


Some potential tenants will even resort to stealing pay stubs, personal information, and other credentials and use them for their own purposes. They could swipe a friend’s pay stub, for example, and with some whiteout and a typewriter they can manipulate the information to look like their own.

Fake income verification documents have significantly improved with technology. Most are still easy to spot if you know what to look for, however.

6 Ways to Spot Fake Income Verification Documents

Pay stubs, income verification, and similar documents can be created from scratch, stolen, and falsified online with paid software, free programs, and advanced editing tools. Smartphones can also be used to alter documents with the right app, meaning almost anyone can make a phony document.

There are some common indicators found on fake income documents. Be on the lookout for the following red flags that tell you you’re looking at a fake.

1. Misspellings

Not every document forger thinks to use a spellchecker. Forged documents typically contain misspelled words, such as achieve, deposit, and government, as a result. Even simple words are misspelled on the worst phony documents, since most criminals are not criminal masterminds.

2. Appearance

The overall appearance of a document is another good indicator of its authenticity. Blurry documents, out-of-line text, unusual typefaces, and hard-to-understand phrases are all red flags of a fake document. Professionals such as accountants and HR executives don’t produce blurry, suspicious-looking documents.

3. Nonsensical Numbers

Most paychecks don’t end in round numbers, but people usually make up round numbers when they lie. Paychecks typically end in odd numbers after taxes and other deductions are made. A paycheck will more often read $237.77 than it will $300.00, for instance. There is a good chance that a potential tenant who produces several paychecks that all end in round numbers is providing forged documents.

4. Inconsistent Information

Comparing data on all income verification documents is an easy way to catch a fake. Net income should line up with gross income without any incorrect math. The same name should be used with the same spelling on every document. Inconsistent data across several forms of income verification usually indicate fraudulent activity.

5. Swapped Numbers and Letters

Fraudulent documents might have the letter “O” substituting for the number “0,” or the letter “l” for a number “1.” These differences are subtle but critical. Accountants and HR executives don’t make these kinds of mistakes because they have professional software that performs the perfunctory tasks for them, so there is no room for errors.

6. Lacks Professional Details

Accounting software automatically inputs the company’s name, date, financial institution, and other pertinent information on each pay stub. This service is provided so the employee can better keep track of their financial information. Personal checks will have specific identifying information as well. Pay stubs and other verification documents that are ambiguous without any identifying information are probably fake.

Intuition might be the very best indicator of a fake document. Sometimes none of the red flags are present, but you still have that suspicious feeling. 

Landlords have a few options when they know they’ve received false documentation.

Appropriate Actions When Income Verification Is Fake 

Submitting false information to prove income is a crime. There are a few legal options for landlords that depend on when the false information was discovered. Landlords can choose to:

  • Deny the rental candidate’s application.
  • Evict a tenant who previously submitted incorrect information.
  • Pursue legal damages in court.

Verifying income reports for potential tenants is a tedious but necessary task. It can be easier with due diligence and a sharp eye, however.

How to Get Help Validating Tenant Income Documents

A sharp eye and attention to detail go a long way in spotting fake pay stubs, but Rent Safe makes it even easier. We are a digital service that helps landlords streamline the steps it takes to screen potential tenants. We also allow renters to easy-submit the correct documents they need for a rental application

Contact the Rent Safe team to see how our platform can help simplify your rental applicant screening processes.

Smart Background Checks

What Are Smart Background Checks and How Can Landlords Take Advantage of Them?

You know that there are a ton of expenses that come with renting out your property. The last thing you want to deal with is evicting a tenant for breaching the lease. That’s why solid tenant screening tools are critical.

If you haven’t yet taken advantage of smart background checks, you’re missing out on great tools to screen potential tenants. What are smart background checks, though, and how can they help you weed out bad tenants?

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about them, including whether potential tenants can opt out of a smart background check. Read on to learn all about smart background checks!

What are Smart Background Checks?

Smart Background Checks is run by an online data broker that retains and distributes sensitive information about individuals online. The company sells that information to any individual who asks for it, but they have also sold information for advertising or data in order to net a profit. 

The company that runs Smart Background Check has a database with nearly a billion records pulled from around 2,000 sources. All you need to run a Smart Background Check is a name or cell phone number. In return, you’ll receive information about an individual’s location history, employment history, and whether they have any public records or aliases.

Benefits of Smart Background Checks for Landlords

As a landlord, you know that you need to post ads in order to generate interest in your property. Unfortunately, those ads also come with a lot of wasted time when people who aren’t serious or qualified inquire. One of the biggest benefits of Smart Background Checks for landlords is that you can screen people before they ever come in to see the property. 

You don’t have to stop contact with potential tenants based on the results of your background check. It can help you steer conversations, however. Lead with information about how to qualify for the apartment, and ask if they meet that criteria before they see the property.

How Can Landlords Take Advantage of Them?

All you need to utilize Smart Background Checks is to navigate to the Smart Background Checks website. The website consists of a simple form that allows you to put in as little or as much information as you have. You can put in the person’s full name, phone number, or address, and then select search. 

After you hit search, it’ll take you to a listing of results, the majority of which contain free background reports. You’ll select the person you’re searching for, and you’ll have access to a host of information about them. 

Why Should Landlords Use Them?

One of the biggest reasons landlords should consider using Smart Background Checks is because it’s one of the only types of background checks that won’t cost you a dime. In fact, they can actually help you save money in the long term.


They’re a great way to pre-screen tenants to determine whether you want to spend time on them. Imagine if you received a phone call or email from a potential tenant, ran a Smart Background Check on them, and determined that they were unlikely to be a qualified tenant. You could use your time to work with qualified tenants, instead.

What Are the Limitations of Smart Background Checks?

The company behind Smart Background Checks collects data from a variety of sources, but they don’t do any work to verify that the data is completely accurate. Information from other people with similar names might get mixed into the results of the person you’re searching for. 

The dates are estimated, as well as the things like education and employment history. You also won’t be able to obtain information about their credit history or verify their income through Smart Background Checks. For this reason, you shouldn’t rely on Smart Background Checks to make decisions about approving tenants for rentals.

Can People Opt Out of a Smart Background Check?

In short, yes. 

Many people consider the information available on a Smart Background Check to be a security risk. After all, much of the information obtained might lead to things like identity theft if it falls into the wrong hands. For that reason, people can and do frequent opt out of Smart Background Checks. 

The owner of the service makes the opt-out process quick and straightforward to complete. Expect many of your tenants to have opted out of the service if they’re aware of it. For this reason, it’s important not to immediately discount your applicants if you aren’t able to pull up their information through the service.

What Other Ways Can Landlords Screen Tenants?

Smart Background Checks is a publicly available service that literally anyone can use. It’s a great way to get a feel for who your potential tenants are, but it won’t give you the whole picture. It also won’t give you the peace of mind that comes with using a professional tenant screening service.  

Reliable tenant screening services give you all of the information that Smart Background Checks gives you, but with more reliable results. This is primarily because tenant screening services have the consent of the tenant to check their background, giving you access to more information, including their credit report and income verification. 

You can also check to see if a tenant has been evicted in the past or has criminal charges. It’s a custom set of data created to help you determine whether a potential tenant is a good fit for your property.

Use Smart Background Checks to Find the Perfect Tenants!

Smart Background Checks are a great way to get started with the tenant screening process when you’re trying to rent out your properties. It does have its limitations, however, as a tenant can opt out of a smart background check. Be sure to buff your screening process with additional screening tools to ensure that you find the perfect renters for your property!

Do you want to learn about more great ways you can make your life as a landlord easier? That’s what we’re here for. Contact us today to learn how we can help you! 

Property Management

Real Estate Property Management: The Screening Tools You Need to Know

It might surprise you to learn that houses in the United States now cost over $350,000 on average. As a result, it’s become more difficult than ever before for first-time homebuyers to find a place of their own.

Those who currently own property, though, will likely find that their home is worth exponentially more than what they purchased it for. For this reason, many people are now choosing to rent out houses they own to tenants.

Every property manager needs to know about the available screening tools, but not everybody knows where to start.

We’ve created a brief guide that can help you avoid common issues. Let’s dive into everything you need to know about the management screening process.

Eviction History Screening

One of the most important aspects of screening your tenants is checking their eviction history. This will give you a good idea of whether or not they are likely to cause problems in the future. Even a single incident where you neglect this information could cost you a lot of money in the long run, so make sure you prioritize it!

Credit Screening

Another important element of screening tenants is checking their credit scores. This will give you an idea of their financial stability and whether or not they are likely to make timely rent payments.

Credit scores are often used in combination with other factors to determine a tenant’s eligibility. Regardless, it’s crucial that you take it into consideration.

This could go a long way toward determining how financially reliable your renters will be.

Criminal Background Check

You’ll also want to run a background check on your potential tenants. This will help you verify their identity and ensure that they don’t have any criminal convictions in their past.

While this information is public, it can be difficult to track down on your own. Although not everyone with a past conviction will prove to be an issue, it’s often recommended to disqualify tenants who do not pass a background check. Not only could this cause a problem for you as a landlord, but it could also put the surrounding community at risk.

Fortunately, there are plenty of services that can help you with this due to how essential this type of screening is.

Integrated Property Management Software

As you might guess, it’s crucial that you use software that allows you to seamlessly manage all of your properties and tenants.

This software should have a centralized database where you can input all of your data and access it easily. By using comprehensive software like this, you will be able to see all of the essential tenant information in a single location. For instance, high-quality software should have a dashboard that allows you to view which checks your tenants passed.

You can then make your decision based on this data, allowing you to save plenty of time during the process. Additionally, the best property management software will offer features like online applications and payments, automatic rent collection, and maintenance requests.

These features will make your life as a property manager much easier and will help you keep your properties in top condition. Be sure that you keep this in mind when moving forward.

What Are Common Tenant Screening Mistakes Landlords Make?

One of the most common mistakes is failing to check the above criteria. Foregoing even one of these factors could leave you with a suboptimal tenant experience.

However, many landlords also neglect to use the ideal software for tenant screening. When searching for a program to use, be sure to consider the reputation of the developer. A quick Google search can provide insight into how past customers feel about a particular software.

Additionally, make sure that the software offers a centralized database and user-friendly interface. If the software is not intuitive, you will not be able to get the most out of it.

What Red Flags Should I Watch Out For?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that you should avoid software that has a negative reputation.

However, you should also be wary of programs that do not have features that are able to meet your needs. For instance, there may be screening software out there that offers credit check capabilities but is not able to run a comprehensive background check.

A situation you want to avoid is paying for software only to discover that you aren’t able to get your money’s worth.

Customer service is another attribute that you need to be aware of. Inevitably, you will likely encounter situations where you need guidance from the software provider.

If it is not easy for you to get in touch with them, you’ll need to resolve the problems on your own. Depending on the situation, this could be difficult or impossible. Regardless, it will cost you extra time to do so without help from a professional.

What Are Other Key Features I Should Consider?

In addition to the above, you should also look for software that allows you to create and provide rental applications through tenants. This will help make the renting process much easier for everyone involved.

Of course, you should only ever use software that has a sufficient level of security. Unfortunately, the cybercrime industry is projected to be worth over $10 trillion by the beginning of 2030.

Some of the most lucrative targets for hackers are individuals and businesses that deal with tenant data. Even a single data breach could cause a large number of issues, and you could face legal complications in the future if you do not go out of your way to protect this sensitive information.

Every Property Manager Needs the Above Tools

It might seem difficult at first to integrate these property manager tools, but it’s easier than you might expect it to be. Ensure that you keep the above guidelines in mind so you can avoid problems you may have encountered.

Want to learn more about what we have to offer? Feel free to get in touch with us at RentSafe today to see how we can help you with your tenant screening needs.

rental history

How to Check Someone’s Past Rental History (2022 Guide)

Have you recently joined the ranks of property managers and are now wondering how to check someone’s rental history? You’re certainly right to consider this an important issue.

How well you screen your applicants is a huge determinant of how successful you will be. So, we’re going to give you three ways of doing it.

We’ll begin with a rudimentary approach and then discuss an improved method of getting the job done. And finally, we’ll consider the most efficient way of screening tenants and checking their rental history.

The Good Enough Way of How to Check Rental History

Are you a hands-on kind of person? Do you prefer to do things the traditional way? If so, you’re probably the type of property manager who likes to perform rental history checks manually.

At one time, manually looking into the rental history of a potential tenant was standard practice. There were no other options. Today, there are other ways of getting information.

But not everyone enjoys using today’s technology. So, even in this fast-paced world, you can slow things down and perform your check the way your grandparents probably did.

You’re going to have to make a lot of phone calls or send a lot of letters. For example, imagine that your potential tenants have moved several times in the past few years. They may have five or six landlords you’ll need to reach.

Dealing With Rental Agencies

Some of the landlords may be professional rental agencies. In those cases, you should be able to file your request for information quickly. It may take days for the agency to respond, but at least you’ve made contact. Fortunately, these sorts of landlords will often have adequate record-keeping systems that can yield valuable data to you.

Dealing With Mom-and-Pop Companies

However, in situations where the landlord is a one-person operation, it may be more difficult even to reach that person. People go on vacation, get sick or change their phone numbers. It may take days or even weeks to track down your target. Then you’ll have to wait until they find the old files on that person and then respond to you.

Don’t count on getting anything but basic information. Your applicant may not have made much of an impression on the landlord. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. But it leaves you with very little insight into the renter’s character. The only thing the landlord may remember is that the renter generally made his payments on time.

A Much Better Method Means Requesting a Rental History Report

You can save yourself time and labor by requesting a rent history check from specialized agencies. One such company is RentBureau which is now part of Experian.

Rent and Credit Reports in One Place

Most people are familiar with Experian as a consumer credit reporting bureau. Its purchase of RentBureau enables renters to improve their credit rating by making their rent payments on time.

Previously, renters could make their payments on time and yet not elevate their credit score. But on the other hand, collections and evictions were routinely reported to agencies like Experian. And, of course, they had a negative effect on credit scores.

Using a Rent History Reporting Agency to Your Advantage

For you, as a manager, Experian’s acquisition of RentBureau means that you can quickly request a credit history from the same place where you typically perform credit checks. How does it work?

Property owners and managers submit data to Experian RentBureau electronically. Once the data is processed, it’s ready to be shared with other owners and managers like you.

You should be able to see if the tenant has a history of writing checks with insufficient funds. Do they tend to move and leave balances? What kind of leases have they signed?

The Superior Way to Get Rental History is With Tenant Screening Software

When you’re ready to take the next step in your growth as a property manager, consider using tenant screening software. Instead of having to make a request to an agency such as Experian RentBureau, you’ll have the data you need at your fingertips to check past rental history.

The Features of Excellent Tenant Screening Software

A good software program will gather its information from various sources and make it easily readable and understandable. You won’t have to settle for a bare-bones rental history. Instead, you’ll also have a credit score and insight into the tenant’s employment.

When you have access to income verification, you will no longer waste time with applicants who can’t afford the lease. You no longer will have to deal with that situation where you rent to a pleasant young couple with great career aspirations that never seemed to get off the ground. After a few months, they’re struggling to pay the rent, and facing eviction.

You’ll also see at a glance whether the tenant has a history of evictions. You’ll also know with a click of a mouse whether that person’s checks are safe to accept. And the thorough background check will inform you if you’re dealing with someone with a particularly troubling criminal record.

A Comprehensive Background Check is Always Worth It

Screening out dangerous potential tenants can save lives. The process can also eliminate your headaches as a property manager. For example, you are less likely to deal with the police and the courts.

You also give a feeling of comfort to your other tenants when they know that their family and friends are safe on your property. And happy tenants are far more likely to become long-time tenants.

How Do You Want to Check Rental History?

Have you decided which method of screening tenants you’d like to use? You will have no trouble finding property managers who use the first two methods. But you’ll find managers who want to do their jobs with the least amount of stress using tenant screening software.

Contact us today if you’d like to see a live demonstration of how efficiently our software can check rental history and change your work life.

tenant screening mistakes

7 Tenant Screening Mistakes to Look Out For

As of the time of writing, property owners or managers have evicted 6,600 tenants in the past week. You can see for yourself how common this problem is and can imagine how much of a hassle it is too. It is much easier to never have rented the home to these problem individuals in the first place.

Below, we have helped you by letting you know about some of the most common tenant screening mistakes. If you are still unsure of how to handle new tenants after this, we would recommend that you investigate what RentSafe has to offer. Otherwise, read on and create a checklist to run through with all new tenants.

1. Asking Illegal Questions

One dangerous mistake that could end up costing you a lot down the road is asking questions that turn out to be illegal. Many of these involve queries related to protected characteristics. Although others have appeared over the years due to more protections.

Be aware that some laws may exist on a local level to protect new tenants. For the best legal advice, you should speak with a lawyer or other legal expert.

Examples of questions you cannot ask include:

  • What is the tenant’s race?
  • What is the tenant’s nationality?
  • What is the religion of the tenant?
  • What is the sex of the tenant?
  • What is the sexual orientation of the tenant?
  • Does the tenant have children?
  • Has the tenant ever been arrested?
  • Has the tenant ever been convicted of a crime?
  • Is the tenant disabled?
  • Does the tenant have any disease?

If you want to ask questions about a person’s past, we would recommend that you stick to:

  • Employment history
  • Tenancy history
  • References
  • Past evictions
  • Past bankruptcies
  • Credit history

2. Failing to Credit Check

By checking someone’s credit report, you can see in general how good they are with paying back any debt that they have. This may be bills, rent, or other things that they owe.

If it turns out that they are bad at paying back any of these, you might have trouble on your hands. So, ensure that you perform this step before bringing them into the home.

3. Not Checking They Are Who They Say They Are

I know it sounds like a Hollywood movie scene, but there is every chance someone might not be who they say that they are. If this happens, then your credit checks and background checks will not tell the truth. Even their references will be for someone wholly different than them.

If a person cannot provide you with the proof that they are who they say that they are, that is a low bar they have failed to get over.

4. Not Running a Background Check

One of the biggest tenant screening mistakes to look out for is forgetting to run a background check. It may turn out that the person seems fine, but then something flags up online that there is a problem that you should know about.

Even if the tenant explains to your their rental and employment history in an application, you should be careful. A background check can bring up things you would not otherwise find. You can then query the prospective tenant on the discrepancy.

It may turn out that any differences are innocent, but it is worth checking to be sure.

5. Not Interviewing the Tenant in Person

If you want to truly know a person who might owe you money, you should perform an interview with them. This will give you a better idea of the type of person they are than an application they can slowly work through.

The kinds of things you will be able to see include:

  • How do they dress for an interview
  • How professional are they
  • How respectful are they towards a prospective landlord
  • Do they smell like cigarette smoke or any other odor

You can also ask more detailed questions than your application allows and start to build a friendly relationship. Such a relationship might help should you ever need to access the home for maintenance or inspection.

In learning how to screen tenants, you can find many more nuanced details about a person.

6. Not Using a Standardized Application

One of the best tips for screening tenants that we have includes creating a standardized application form. RentSafe can help you with this and allows you to send this form to all your prospective tenants.

Standardized applications prevent people from skipping sections. They also allow you to handle them faster, saving everyone time in the long run.

Well-made forms also allow people to access them from any device, including a phone, tablet, or PC. This level of accessibility helps people finish them faster and get them back to you.

7. Refusing to Demand Proof of Income

You might want to trust people when they say that they can pay, but this might not be the wisest move. Some people are hopeful that they can make a payment but do not end up in the situation they want to be in.

Similarly, you might want to ask people for proof of income because their income may come from less-than-legal sources. If this is the case, you will be handling illegally earned money. We are sure that you would prefer not to do that.

Proof of income can come in the form of a written contract, bank statements, or previous pay stubs. Whichever method works best for you or the tenant.

Avoid These Tenant Screening Mistakes

Now that you have read the above, you should be able to avoid the more egregious tenant screening mistakes. If you are still unsure, though, or want to cover yourself, you should check out tenant screening software. With software such as RentSafe, you can ensure that you pass prospective tenants a standard method to confirm their details.

If you want to know more about this, get in contact, and our specialists on the software would be willing to walk you through the process. All you need to do is call us today for a full rundown.

tenant red flags

8 Prospective Tenant Red Flags

There were an average of 3.8 million eviction cases filed each year in the USA in the 21st century.

Such cases are a big hassle, and it is preferable to find out if you have potential problem tenants long before they even sign a contract. But are there any tenant red flags that you should look out for, and how would you know if they are a cause for concern?

Below we have listed eleven examples of how a tenant might flag that they are not a good fit for a tenancy. By checking through each of these with your potential renters, you will be able to work out if they are a poor fit for your property. At the very least, you might be able to find a question or two to ask them to determine if there is something you need to know.

1. Low Income

Property managers should be aware of potential tenants who might not be able to pay for their rent regularly. By asking a tenant about their income, you can ensure that they will have enough to be able to cover both their non-rent needs as well as pay you.

Someone with a low enough income might struggle to choose between necessities and rent. You can assume that the rent will be late if this is the case.

2. Lack of Employment

Part of tenant screening involves checking to see if someone will have a regular income that can pay the rent. If they are without employment, unless they have something lined up, that is one of the biggest prospective tenant red flags.

If they have no employment, they are unlikely to be able to pay rent unless they have a large nest egg. If they continue to pay despite this, you might want to start questioning where they get their money from. The money might end up not coming from above-board sources.

3. Poor Credit

While someone might have enough money right now, there is always the chance that they might end up down on their luck later on. For this reason, you should make sure that the tenant has the credit necessary to keep up their rent later on.

This also helps them cover rent in the case of accidents, emergency repairs, or medical issues.

4. Eviction on Their Record

If someone has already faced eviction in the past, there are likely to go through the same process in the future. It is an example of when you might want more details of the tenant’s history, as it might no longer be relevant.

5. Criminal Record

Finding out about a tenant’s criminal history is not illegal, but asking about it could put you in serious trouble.

The Fair Criminal Record Screening for Housing Act of 2016 means it is illegal to even ask about arrests, let alone convictions. As such, while this may be a red flag it is also not information that you can get without difficulty.

You might want to run a background check instead.

6. Only Good References

If someone only has good references for jobs or previous homes, with large gaps between the engagements, you might want to ask about those gaps. It might turn out that the good references only refer to times when they had a good relationship. As such, other landlords or employers might have had a much poorer engagement with the individual.

After learning about what the person did to warrant such a reaction, you will need to learn how to say no to a prospective tenant.

7. Falsehoods in the Application

Purposely lying on the application suggests that the person has something to hide. You can either ask them about what it is they are trying to hide, or you can refuse them the application.

There is a very low probability that they are lying on the application for any good reason. Also, someone who starts any sort of professional relationship with a lie is unlikely to be a good tenant.

8. Demanding Personality

One of the more subtle red flags when finding a tenant is that someone is very demanding. It is hard to see the difference between someone who has high expectations, someone who is detail-oriented, and someone who will be a problem. This might take some experience to learn.

A good benchmark is if their demands will take more of your time. Then, if you refuse anything, how they react could tell you everything that you need to know.

How to Say No to a Prospective Tenant

We get that it can sometimes be hard to say no to a potential tenant. Here are some tips to avoid it all being an issue:

Be firm but brief. Do not go into too much detail, or any at all if you do not feel comfortable. If there is something you can point to that proves your reasoning, such as a credit report, use this.

Send the denial by email. This creates separation between yourself and the tenant. It gives them a chance to deal with the disappointment in their own time and not burden you with it.

Do not be manipulated. If they start giving you reasons why you should accept, do not be drawn in. If they push, they are being manipulative and would not make good tenants anyway.

Have someone with you. If you have to be there in person, have someone with you in the room or nearby. You can use them as support if things start getting awkward, or if you need to speak to someone after.

Avoid These Tenant Red Flags

Now that you understand these tenant red flags, you should be adept at noticing them. RentSafe has proved time and time again that these are real issues that come up that renters miss. What you want is something to alert you to them early on.

Our easy-to-use software allows you to engage in tenant screening for red flags before they set foot in your door. If you want to know more about what we can provide, please get in touch. Give us a call and find out how we can improve your tenant selection process.

tenant screening for realtors

Tenant Screening for Realtors: Top Opportunities and Services

When a property investor works with a realtor to buy a rental property, it’s a logical step to have that same realty company serve as property managers for the rental.

As an add-on service for clients, it makes a nice side revenue stream. Many investors see the benefit of listing their rentals with their realtor since that person is on location, knows the market, and has access to local resources to take care of problems.

One resource you might be subscribed to is a service to do tenant screening for realtors. Whether you take care of everything related to the rental or only run the occasional tenant background check, such a service makes the process fast and efficient.

But you have a lot of options for realtor tenant screening. Let’s look at some of the top services you might choose among.

What to Consider When Assessing Tenant Screening Services

Ideally, a service will handle everything for you from the application to a detailed report to compliance with housing laws. It makes it easy to get up to speed on how to screen tenants as well.

As you consider services, keep these features in mind:

  • Online application
  • Screening fee
  • Customizable criteria
  • Credit score
  • Credit report
  • Criminal background check
  • Address history
  • Eviction history
  • Turnaround time

Take note of how much the screening fee is and whether the service expects you or the applicant to pay for it. You should also confirm that the criminal background check is being done with a national search and not just a local one. And with all of these, the turnaround time to get the data should only be a few hours so you can quickly make your tenant selection.

Listing and Application

Screening starts with getting potential tenants interested in your property with a great listing. You can then direct them to fill out an application from there. Some services like RentSafe and are attached to property listings, while others are separate and require you to send the application manually.

In either case, you want there to be an online application option, which reduces the risk of errors and saves you time. It also makes it easy to ensure you gather the same information and do the same checks on every potential tenant. Note that some services like MyRental have you fill in all the information rather than the applicant.

Services like RentSafe allow you to customize the entire application process to set screening requirements by property. This includes required credit scores or your pet policy. You can also require documentation to be uploaded with the application, such as reference letters or vet records.

Most screening services require the tenant to pay the screening fee when they submit their application. Some like RentPrep and American Apartment Owners Association only offer the option to have the tenant pay the fee with certain higher-level packages.

Approval of the application can vary between services as well. RentSafe and MyRental offer one-click approval from the dashboard, and RentSpree includes an approve/deny ability in its free package. 

Report Breakdown

You’ll find a wide variety when it comes to the reports you can get on each applicant. The three basic types cover finances, rental background, and criminal history. But even within those basics, you’ll find differences among the various screening services.

Financial reports cover credit score, credit report, and income verification. Most services like RentSafe pull this information from Transunion. MyRental only states that it gets the data from one of the big three credit reporting agencies.

RentPrep and MyRental have their own scoring systems that combine outside factors with credit factors to predict who would make a good tenant. The concept is meant to help landlords look past the credit score in evaluating potential renters.

When it comes to background checks, you want them to be as thorough as possible. This means eviction history along with criminal history. The best searches will also be pulled from national databases rather than state or county.

RentSafe’s report covers national criminal and eviction searches along with a residency report with all previous addresses. All this comes in a summary report that allows you to make a quick yes/no decision or to click through for more detail. RentSpree has access to national criminal records including the sex offender registry and state databases.

RentPrep’s background check package includes an eviction report, address history, and bankruptcies at a lower cost. You can add on to that package separately priced items like a national criminal search or income verification.

The AAOA has a similar situation where criminal checks are only available for some packages. The lower-priced ones only include records searches for a single state rather than a national search. You also only get national eviction history and sex offender searches with the highest-priced packages.

Additional Features

Several services offer add-on reports and checks to supplement the standard ones. But extra features on the platform serve to make screening and management easier.

One such is the ability to access all the information through a mobile app or interface. Services like RentSafe make it easy to send a link to the application through email or text so the tenants can apply on their phones. offers features you might want for property management like leases and rent collection. The AAOA has an underwriting function that lets you get special approval that eliminates the need to get permission from applicants to run credit checks.

Find Great Tenant Screening for Realtors

Realtors across the country have expanded their services to include managing client properties and finding tenants for them. A key piece of that is fielding applications and conducting tenant screening, including criminal, background, and credit checks. With so many services to choose from, it’s important to compare the ease of use, workflow, and available options.

Interested in learning more about how our platform handles tenant screening for realtors? Contact us to schedule a live demo with our co-founder to see it in action.

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