11 Tenant Background Check Services Reviews

Choosing a tenant background check service is not an easy task.

It can feel like comparing apples and oranges because every service differs in its own way.

This blog post is designed to show you how to compare apples and oranges when it comes to selecting a provider.

We’ve compiled a list of the 11 largest tenant background check services.

We then broke each service down by the services offered in their basic package.

Take a look at the chart and read below for a review of each service.

Towards the bottom of the post we then categorize the services into 4 buckets to better understand your options.

Tenant Background Check Services

 

Legend:

This is a quick synopsis of what each feature in the left hand column represents.

  • Cost for basic package – Each service offers tiered packages and we selected the basic package to establish a baseline package to compare across the board
  • Cost to add-on credit check – The cost of a credit check or report for each service
  • Instant Reports – Does the service provide a tenant report immediately
  • FCRA Certified Screeners – Does the service employ FCRA screeners to run background reports
  • Eviction Data All 50 States – Does the basic package include eviction history for all 50 states
  • Tenant Involvement – Does the service require tenant involvement
  • Highest FICO Standards – Does the service use the highest FICO standards for their reports
  • Phone/Email/Chat – Does the service offer customer support using 1,2, or 3 of these services
  • SSN Verification – Is a  manual SSN verification performed
  • Address History – Is tenant address history provided
  • Bankruptcies – Are bankruptcies included
  • Judgements/Liens – Are they included on the report
  • Sex Offender – Does the basic package include this service
  • US Criminal – Is a national criminal search performed
  • Homeland Search – Also called terrorist search
  • Extra Services – Will be explained for each service with a mention

orange-dot – Indicates the service is provided within the basic package (according to website data as of December 2016)

* Denotes a special circumstance which will be explained in that services breakdown.

*Eviction/Criminal Data All 50 States – Any instant reporting service cannot access all criminal history. This is because certain states (Massachusetts, Delaware, South Dakota, Wyoming, and most recently Colorado) require you to manually search records and won’t allow software to access their data. For eviction history, most instant searches are using the national eviction database which is known to be incomplete.

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Tenant Background Check Service – RentPrep

Disclaimer – This is our own service but we try to stay as objective as possible with our review.

Pros: 

  • RentPrep came in on the lower end of cost
  • One of only two services to offer FCRA certified screeners and all three customer support mediums.
  • Customer service and report accuracy are the strengths of this service that comes with hiring FCRA certified screeners to run reports instead of instant reports.
  • Able to make phone calls to employers and previous landlords with Platinum Package upgrade

Cons: 

  • Cannot provide reports instantly
  • If you prefer to have tenant involvement this is currently not an option (which means you can’t charge application fees directly to the tenant)
  • Credit Check does not include the credit score, it’s a pass/fail based on your requirements

Note: RentPrep now offers the SmartMove screening service as of March 8th, 2017.
This allows our clients the option to see a full credit report and also the ability to charge application fees directly to the tenant.
The SmartMove product requires you to enter your tenant applicant’s email.

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Tenant Background Check Service – SmartMove

Pros:

  • Direct product of Transunion (one of the three main credit bureaus)
  • Full credit report
  • Have the tenant pay directly for their report instead of using application fees

Cons:

  • On the more expensive side at $35 with credit report
  • Can’t provide criminal data for all 50 states
  • Can’t report data that requires manual extraction

*As noted above SmartMove is now an option available with FRCA Screener Support through RentPrep.

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Tenant Background Check Service – Experian Connect

Pros:

  • Charges tenant directly instead of using application fees
  • Includes Judgements/Liens
  • Direct product of Experian (one of the three main credit bureaus)

Cons:

  • Does not provide eviction data
  • Can’t provide criminal data for all 50 states
  • Can’t report data that requires manual extraction

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Tenant Background Check Service – Lease Runner

Pros:

  • You can decide if you want tenant involvement or not
  • A la carte pricing
  • Good FAQ section

Cons:

  • One of the most expensive services: Credit+Eviction+Criminal = $47
  • Our best guess is that a $10 “Financial Report” is a marketing gimmick which is info usually included for free with credit reports
  • $12 for an instant data pull on eviction

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Tenant Background Check Service – Cozy

Pros:

  • Great design & full credit report
  • Offers sex offender, criminal, and homeland search
  • Syncs with other property manager tools

Cons:

  • $40 for instant service with credit report
  • Least amount of customer support options of any service
  • Doesn’t use all criminial/eviction data

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Tenant Background Check Service – Screening Works

Pros:

  • Has a Public Records Team that will manually cross-check criminal records (not FCRA certified though)
  • Pricing is dependent on your State
  • Credit check is included (if you wanted that data)

Cons:

  • Direct quote from their site, “Unfortunately, there are some states within the U.S. that do not have readily available, instantaneous access to Criminal and/or Eviction data, thus they may not be offered by ScreeningWorks for those states.”
  • Judgements and bankruptcies not included
  • Doesn’t run a national eviction search, just one state

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Tenant Background Check Service – TenantAlert

Pros:

  • Offers underwriting option for small landlords

Cons:

  • Doesn’t include eviction data with basic package
  • Have to pay $49 to get national eviction data
    • It costs less than $1 in data costs to get access to national criminal/eviction data
  • Majority of landlords will not qualify for underwriting (a dedicated office with an external door, security system, signage)

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Tenant Background Check Service – Buildium

Pros:

  • Offers a full suite of property management tools
  • Great design + Good customer support
  • $15 credit reports with subscription service

Cons:

  • *Requires a minimum $45 monthly subscription
  • Instant data report issues (same as previous mentions)

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Tenant Background Check Service – e-renter

Pros:

  • FCRA certified screeners
  • Full eviction/criminal data
  • Good support + Content

Cons:

  • Requires an additional $2 tenant charge with credit check report
  • Doesn’t include a full credit score report
  • Poorest designed site on the list

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Tenant Background Check Service – Tenantify

Pros:

  • A la carte employment and income verification

Cons:

  • Doesn’t offer eviction data
  • Doesn’t offer credit reports
  • Doesn’t offer enough services to be useful as a screening tool

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Tenant Background Check Service – MyRental

Pros:

  • Offers sex offender, criminal, and homeland in basic
  • Owned by CoreLogic
  • Doesn’t require tenant involvement

Cons:

  • Doesn’t include bankruptcies + judgements/liens
  • Instant reports = not the best possible data
  • Large corporate company = not ideal customer support

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What to make of all this data?

Once you understand what to look for it really depends on your preferences.

If we were to group the services together by their most defining feature here’s how those groupings would look.

Tenant background check

You’ll notice we added additional services for this infographic.

The two buckets on the right have an endless supply of automated resellers and property management services.

 

FCRA Certified Screeners:

Pros – Most Accurate Reports & Good Customer Service

Cons – Can’t Provide Instant Results & Can’t Provide Full Credit Check

Big Data Providers:

Pros – Pulling From Own Data Sources

Cons – Automated Reports Create Issues For Eviction/Criminal Data

Automated Resellers

Pros – Some Are Cheaper Than Big Data Providers

Cons – Add Little Value Compared To Big Data Providers

Property Management Software

Pros – Manage Properties In One Place

Cons – Some Charge Monthly & Most Are Automated Resellers

Not A Full Screening Solution

  • Tenantify

What matters most to you?

We can’t speak for other screening companies as well as we can for RentPrep and here’s what we’ve learned in the past 10 years of running our business.

We provide the most comprehensive screening reports available but they take an hour to compile and won’t show you a credit score.

This model works for landlords that want accurate criminal and eviction data. It does not work for landlords who insist on having access to the full credit report instead of a credit check.

Here’s an explanation of what is included in our credit check.

If you want a full credit report quickly we recommend using our SmartMove product.

Smartmove gives the best data for an instant solution while offering a full credit report including credit score. That’s why we’ve partnered with their affiliate program.

If you want to keep everything in one program but still want high level screening reports we’d suggest a service like TenantCloud.

*RentPrep runs the screening reports for TenantCloud – If you stay with a service like Cozy you’re reports are automated by a service that doesn’t even specialize in tenant screening.

Did we miss something?

Nowadays there are more screening solutions than ever before. This is because most services are just instant resellers of data coming from Transunion, Experian, and Equifax.

If we missed something on our list you can email us for updates to eric@rentprep.com

We did our best to fairly compare the services listed in this report. If you visit each service you will see different levels of packages but it would be too difficult to show everything each service offers.

If you do want to learn more about RentPrep I recommend checking out our About Us page where our CEO tells his story of how he started the business.

About the author

I believe the biggest mistake you can make in life is not learning from them. I've been a landlord since 2009 and still learning all the time.