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.

rental background checks

How Long Do Rental Background Checks Take? Exploring the Process

Most landlords in the US screen an average of 2 tenants per vacancy. If you’re a property manager taking care of multiple units, that can take a lot of time if you do it manually. There are better options to shorten the tenant screening process.

As a property manager, tenant screening is essential for finding qualified tenants for your rentals. Here are some of the steps involved in rental background checks and ideas to help you streamline the process.

Background Check Basics

Rental background checks are essentially a screening test for suitability. A landlord or property manager performs this screening to decide if a tenant is a right fit for a rental unit. The process can be complex, and it’s important not to miss any of the details.

You want to find the best tenant for your property. Tenant screening allows landlords and property managers to avoid potentially risky renters. It can take a bit of time to perform the checks, but it will save you money in the long run by preventing hassles with rent collection or damages to your unit.

You can speed things up by automating as many of these steps as possible. The rules around background checks vary in different states and municipalities. Some locations have question restrictions, and others prohibit your ability to perform a criminal records check.

It’s essential to understand what you’re allowed to ask for. Avoid violating any Fair Housing laws by performing the same background checks for all applicants, regardless of their race, nationality, sex, or other differences. You don’t want to be accused of discrimination.

Before you perform a check, the tenant must authorize it. Here are the basics of a background check.

Credit Report

An applicant’s detailed credit history may reveal amounts owed to a previous landlord. That would be a major red flag against a prospective applicant.

You can request a credit report from a reputable agency such as TransUnion or Equifax. The report will show their credit use, credit score, specific payment histories, and other account information.

Reading a credit report involves understanding the five basic components.

  1. ID information includes their name, current address, and recent employment history
  2. Fraud indicators are red flags to review carefully
  3. Tradeline summary shows active credit accounts, loans, and debt
  4. Credit score 
  5. Inquires from other companies during the past two years

A credit score is a number between 350 and 850, and it indicates someone’s credit behavior. The higher the number, the better the applicant’s credit history. 

Income Verification

This step allows a property manager to see if the applicant earns enough money to pay their rent. Most managers use a measurement standard such as a rent-to-income ratio. This ratio says someone should earn three times their monthly rent to afford to make their payment. 

Managers ask applicants to show proof of their current income level. They can provide a recent paystub or their income tax return. They may request contact information for their current employer or their previous employer if they’ve just changed jobs.

When an applicant’s income level is too low to qualify, it’s possible to allow a co-signer to guarantee the rent. Always perform a complete screening on any co-signers if you consider this step.

Resident Score

Some tenant screening reports add a resident score tailored to landlords and property managers. It assesses the reliability and level of risk for the applicant. Resident scores use these items.

  • Payment track record
  • Credit being currently used
  • Credit currently available 
  • Credit performance or history
  • Current inquiries on their record

Screeners use these five components to create a resident score which may indicate if the applicant will need eviction in the future. Generally, a resident score of over 560 is a better candidate for tenancy, although a slightly lower score is possible.

Eviction Report

Ask applicants if they have ever been evicted. There are some circumstances when the tenant may not be the one at fault, so it’s crucial to discover what caused the eviction. Document their explanation to ensure you meet local fair housing guidelines or laws.

Criminal Background Check

If you find a tenant with a criminal history, it’s best to allow them to explain the circumstances. The criminal checkreport will list any convictions, whether they were felonies or misdemeanors, and it will give details of the criminal behavior. 

You can take their explanation into account when preparing your report. Again, documentation shows that you followed the guidelines. 

Streamline the Process

If you’re asking “how long do rental background checks take,” the answer is it might be several hours or several days. The amount of time it takes depends on when an applicant gives their approval. It also depends on how organized you are and whether you try to do the steps yourself.

Prepare a checklist to help you keep on track. Use a spreadsheet or other method to track the results and update it as the data comes in. Include websites and additional information so you can request the records using each applicant’s data.

Another option is to find a service that will take care of these details for you. Some providers allow prospective tenants to submit applications online. If you use a screening service, they have the tools required to speed things up.

The online dashboard gives tenants a way to provide preliminary credit information during the application process. A property manager can add a rental listing with their specific criteria, then direct applicants to fill out their information online. 

Property managers can view applications online. Updated results are available in real time. This system keeps track of applicants, and you can mark them for follow-up or categorize them as you make your initial decisions. 

Rental Background Checks

We streamline the entire tenant application and screening process with our easy-to-use online system. Rental background checks are available in real time. You’ll be able to respond to the tenant and homeowner with results ASAP.

Contact RentSafe for the best solution to your tenant screening needs. We can help you make educated decisions on prospective renters’ qualifications.

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