You rely on your tenants to pay the rent every month, and if they default, you lose money and potentially face an expensive, complicated, time-consuming eviction process. Landlords, however, don’t just rely on their tenants to make that monthly payment. They also need them to take good care of their property and be respectful to their neighbors.
Renting to someone based on instincts or even on the information they provide in their application can lead to problems. You need to properly screen your tenants if you want to protect your bottom line.
Online tenant screening software can help with that process, but you need the right features. This guide explains which capabilities you should insist upon when choosing online tenant screening software, and it looks at the other elements you should consider when deciding on a solution.
The Most Important Features for Online Tenant Screening Software
Online tenant screening software should provide you with the tools you need to streamline and simplify every aspect of the tenant screening process. The software should be intuitive and user-friendly, but it also needs to offer the following essential features.
1. Customizable Online Rental Application
Modern consumers do almost everything online, and they want the ability to apply for housing online too. Look for software that lets you customize an application that prospective renters can fill out and submit with the tap of a button. Some software works with PDF rental applications. This is better than nothing, but it’s more time-consuming and less effective than an application that users can complete directly in an app or through a browser.
2. Ability to Upload Other Documents
Your applicants may need to provide additional documentation to support the information on their applications. Quality online tenant screening software should let them add cosigners, references, and required documents easily.
3. Credit Scores and Credit Reports
A credit report can tell you a lot about how people manage their finances. People who are always late on their car loans or credit card bills are also likely to be late on their rent. Software that shows you credit reports and scores allows you to assess the financial responsibility levels of your applicants.
4. History of Evictions
Evictions do not show up on credit reports, and people can easily lie about their past addresses so you can’t talk to their previous landlords. An online tenant screening tool that searches for rental history reports can provide you with detailed information on the applicant’s history of evictions.
5. Criminal Background Check
Landlords who screen their tenants will undoubtedly find some who have a criminal background. Being convicted of a crime doesn’t necessarily mean a tenant won’t be responsible, but you need to know about their history to decide if they’re safe for your property, other tenants in your building, and the surrounding neighbors.
A dashboard is a helpful feature of online tenant screening software because it brings everything together. You can open the software and see which applications have been completed and which tenants need to submit more information, and the best platforms enable full transparency for applicants and landlords alike.
7. Cloud-Based Solution
Software that gets downloaded to your computer can require you to have a specific operating system or even invest in a server. A cloud-based solution ensures that you don’t incur additional hardware costs.
The role of online tenant screening software is to help you make an informed decision about prospective tenants. The software you select should allow you to access as much information as possible about applicants, and it should also come with tools that help you streamline the application process.
Additional Considerations When Investing in Online Tenant Screening Software
The features offered by the software should lead the decision-making process, but after narrowing your choices down to a few options with the features you need, you should also take the following considerations into account.
How much does the online tenant screening software cost? Do you pay a monthly subscription rate, a per-application fee, a fee for each report, or a combination of both? Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples when looking at different pricing models.
You don’t want to wait weeks or even days to get information about prospective tenants. Look for software that can provide reports quickly and, if possible, look for a tenant screening solution that can provide real-time results.
Software that takes a long time to learn isn’t suitable for this purpose. Landlords and property managers are busy people, and you need easy-to-use tenant screening software that isn’t difficult to master.
Check out customer reviews so that you can learn how other landlords and property managers have enjoyed the software. You may want to look for a demo or a trial period to better assess the ones that interest you.
Pitfalls to Avoid When Choosing Online Tenant Screening Tools
You understand the features to look for, but there are also some pitfalls you should avoid. Make sure the online tenant screening application you choose doesn’t have any of the following issues:
Lack of Compliance
The software should have built-in tools that ensure legal compliance when requesting credit reports and other information.
You need to be able to use the software at any time of the day or night.
Not the Right Fit
The solution you select must fulfill your requirements for the number of tenants and properties you own or manage.
More Than You Need
You should be able to select the services you need, whether that’s full access or the occasional on-demand report.
Confusion About Payments
Make sure you understand whether you or the tenant pays for the reports.
Tenant screening tools help you manage your properties more effectively by streamlining the process of choosing the best tenants. These often require an upfront payment, but ultimately they safeguard your investment by guiding you to the most responsible tenants. Any effective tenant screening will minimize the risk of default and reduce turnover, saving you time and money in the long run.
Contact Rent Safe for Our Innovative Online Tenant Screening Platform
Rent Safe is an online tenant screening tool designed to make the application and screening process easier for tenants, property managers, and renters. We would love to help you improve your tenant screening process and safeguard your properties.
Our user-friendly platform enables landlords to send links to custom applications that applicants can complete online. Contact us today at Rent Safe to learn more.