How to Choose the Right Tenant Screening Company?
What should you look for in a tenant screening company?
Good Customer Service
A good tenant screening company will be willing and able to talk to you on the phone about your report. While the company cannot make a leasing decision or any other adverse action on your behalf, they should be able to explain what a particular item on a report means. It’s easy to misread or be confused by something on a report. The report isn’t very useful to you if you haven’t received assistance in understanding what the report means.
Most tenant screening companies are going to be providing you very similar reports. For example, the credit portion of these reports will ultimately come from one of the three bureaus called Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. There are no other credit bureaus than those three. Because of the similarities between tenant screening reports, the pricing can be a big differentiator between them. Keep in mind that the decision shouldn’t be made solely off of price. A company may advertise an extremely low price for tenant screening only to provide you with a bare bones package that doesn’t have enough information for you to make a leasing decision.
A great way to save on your reporting is by only choosing the items that you need and leaving out the rest. If you only need a national criminal history check and a FICO score, you should be able to receive just those items with the company that you choose.
Easy Adverse Action Letter
If a landlord denies rent or makes another adverse action based on a tenant screening report, they must provide an official adverse action letter to the tenant with the contact information to the credit bureau that the information was pulled from. Some tenant screening companies create the adverse action letter automatically for you. If you do decide not to accept a tenant into your community, you can simply print out the adverse action letter with the warning signs listed in the letter.
Every apartment community sets their personal standards for screening tenants. An excellent tenant screening system can be set to alert you that the tenant did not meet your standards. This helps you to maintain consistency in your tenant screening process with every tenant that you screen.
Does your tenant screening company have a newsletter? A good tenant screening company will continually educate its clients about FCRA regulations, Fair Housing laws, and provide other useful information pertaining to tenant screening and property management. A good tenant screening company should care about providing landlords with all of the necessary tools to make the right leasing decision.
** Always be sure to follow all proper procedures when handling a tenant. Please be sure that any metric you use in review of an application must be applied to all applications to rent. A comprehensive view of F.C.R.A. law and procedures can be found here. Also be sure to follow all fair housing laws and not to discriminate based on race, gender, minority group, etc. Please also observe local ordinances, which may supersede some federal laws. **