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 Apartments.com 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.
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.
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.
Apartments.com 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.