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.

What To Know Before Reviewing Tenant Screening Services

There are three topics we want to quickly address before jumping into the comparison chart below.

  1. The difference between a background report and a credit report
  2. The one piece of data that will reveal an applicant to be over 2.5 times higher risk for eviction
  3. Understanding the entire screening process

We created a quick video to cover these three topics.

For easy reference, here’s a link to the free tenant screening course mentioned in the video above.

Take a look at the chart below for a review of each service based on their basic service.

Towards the bottom of the post we will 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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Comparing Customer Service of Screening Services

We wanted to also conduct a test comparing the services to each other from a customer support angle.

Below is a table of our findings that you can click to open up in a separate window.

tenant screening services reviews support

We called each service that has a phone number listed on their site.

Here’s a live example (using RentPrep) of the call we made to each service asking them how long a bankruptcy or eviction is reportable for…

 

 

If you click the SmartMove and Cozy customer support links on their site you’ll see there are no phone numbers listed.

This is common for very large services to funnel their customer support into a ticket based system

For the remaining services that listed a phone number, we asked a simple question, “How long is a bankruptcy reportable for?

A bankruptcy is reportable for 10 years according to the rules of the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).

In some instances, the service did not offer bankruptcy information in their reports so we asked “How long is a tenant eviction reportable for?”

Again, this question is simple, and the answer is that an eviction is reportable for seven years.

Results From This Test

RentPrep and TenantAlert were the only two services that gave a correct answer over the phone.

Below we breakdown each service and provide context on this customer support test.

With Experian, LeaseRunner and E-Renter we were told that a bankruptcy is reportable for either seven years which is incorrect. They’re reportable for 10 years.

ScreeningWorks answered after a seven minute hold and didn’t know the answer, and the person who did, was in a meeting. I was told they would call back with an answer that I’m still waiting on.

MyRental was asked about eviction history (they don’t provide bankruptcy information) and I was told,”They’re reportable as far back as the court records will go.”

This is not true and not good advice.

An eviction should never be reported beyond 7 years because you can be sued by a denied applicant for violating the FCRA.

I recommend that you call around and see how responsive your potential screening service is before you select a service.

Their phone support will be a good indicator of their overall customer support and how they handle things.

Up next we will dive deeper into each service and provide the pros and cons associated with them.

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Tenant Background Check Service – RentPrep

Phone Support: (888) 877-8501
Email support: screening@rentprep.com
LiveChat link: Click Here

Online Reviews:
RentPrep Google Reviews (45+)
RentPrep Facebook Reviews (35+)

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

Customer Support:

RentPrep screening reviews

We surprised one of our screeners and called to ask how long a bankruptcy is reportable for. She was able to answer correctly (ten years) and the call took a total of 48 seconds.

Available phone support hours:
Monday – Thursday 9am – 7pm EST
Friday 9am – 5pm EST
Sunday 10am – 2pm

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
  • Currently cannot charge the applicant directly for the Basic, Pro, and Platinum reports,
  • A credit check does not include the specific credit score of the applicant, it is a pass/fail measure

Note: RentPrep now offers the SmartMove screening service as of March 8th, 2017.
SmartMove allows our clients the option to see a full credit report (including score) 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
No Phone Support
Contact form
LiveChat: Might popup depending on page

Online Reviews:
No Google or Facebook reviews found

Customer Support:

smartmove screening review

SmartMove is offered directly through Transunion and does not provide phone support. Thus the reason the image above is blank.

I did use their contact form and asked about eviction data and received a correct response 4 hours and 7 minutes later.

Available support hours:
Mon-Fri 7am – 6pm MST
Sat 8:30am – 5pm MST
Sun 9:30am – 5pm MST

Pros of Service:

  • 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 of Service:

  • On the more expensive side at $35 with a full 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
Experian Connect Phone Support: 1 (800) 831-5614 option 3
Contact Form
LiveChat: None found

Online Reviews:
No Google or Facebook reviews found

Experian Connect Reviews

The information above is a compilation of four phone calls to get the wrong answer on reporting bankruptcies.

Here are my notes of calling three different numbers and getting hung up on once when I pushed zero out of frustration to get a person on the line.

Experian connect phone support

Eventually I got to the right number and the the TBH metric (Time Before Human) was three minutes and 42 seconds on the final call. The answer I received when I asked how long bankruptcies are reportable for was, “Seven to ten years.”

The correct answer is that bankruptcies are reportable for 10 years.

The reason they give a range is that Experian only reports Chapter 13 bankruptcies for seven years even though they are legally reportable for 10 years.

Available support hours:
Mon-Fri 6am to 6pm PT
Sat-Sun 8am to 5pm PT

Pros of Service:

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

Cons of Service:

  • 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

 

 

LeaseRunner Phone Support (303) 468-8018
Email support: help@leaserunner.com
LiveChat: None

Online Reviews:
No Google reviews found
Facebook reviews (2)

I asked Lease Runner how long a bankruptcy is reportable for after being on hold for four minutes and 22 seconds. I was told seven years and the person clarified, “that is how far back our reporting goes, however a bankruptcy is reportable for up to 10 years.”

It’s good that they were able to give a correct answer of 10 years but bad that they only report for up to seven years.

Available support hours:
Mon-Fri 8am – 5pm PT MDT

Pros of Service:

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

Cons of Service:

  • 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 evictions

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Tenant Background Check Service – Cozy
No Phone Support
Contact Form
Live Chat: None

Online Reviews:
No Google or Facebook reviews found

I did reach out to Cozy via their contact form to ask how long an eviction is reportable for (they don’t offer bankruptcies). It took two hours and 14 minutes to get a response (emailed at 12:33pm and received response at 2:47pm).

The email was helpful in talking about how they run evictions, but said, “I’m not aware of a statute of limitations regarding evictions.

Evictions are reportable for seven years, but the representative that answered the email is a Cozy employee and not an FCRA Certified Screener.

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 criminal/eviction data

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Tenant Background Check Service – Screening Works

 

 

Screening Works Phone Support (888) 401-7999
Contact Form
Live Chat: None

Online Reviews:
No Google or Facebook reviews found

Screening Works Support

I waited on hold for 7:07 before speaking with a person. Screening Works does not offer bankruptcy information on their reports so I asked how long evictions are reportable for (correct answer would be seven years).

I was told they they don’t run evictions for every state but was put on hold to get an answer. The representative couldn’t give an answer on how long evictions are reportable for and said the person who could was in a meeting and would call back with an answer. I never received a call back.

Available support hours:
I could not find hours of operation.

Pros of Service:

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

Cons of Service:

  • 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

 

 

TenantAlert Phone Support (866) 272-8400
Contact Form
LiveChat: None

Online Reviews:
No Google or Facebook reviews found

Tenant Alert Support

Tenant Alert does not provide bankruptcy information so I asked how long they can report evictions for. I was given a correct answer of seven years. I was able to get a person on the phone in 16 seconds which was the quickest response of any service tested.

Pros of Service:

  • Offers underwriting option for small landlords

Cons of Service:

  • Doesn’t include eviction data with basic package
  • Have to pay $49 to get national eviction data
    • It costs less than $1 in extra data costs to get access to national criminal/eviction data over state 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

 

 

Building Phone Support (888) 414-1988
Contact Form
LiveChat: Yes

Buildium Customer Support

I called Buildium’s customer support and was given an estimated wait time of 19 minutes. I didn’t bother to wait that long to see if they could answer a simple question correctly.

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 (0-20 units pricing)
  • Instant data report issues (same as previous mentions)

A service like Buildium could make sense if you manage hundreds of units. However, it’s hard to spend a minimum of $540 a year if you have 0-20 units for the service.

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Tenant Background Check Service – e-renter

 

 

E-Renter Phone Support (877) 332-0078
Email Support: support@e-renter.com
LiveChat: None

Online Reviews:
No Google Reviews
Facebook reviews
(take their reviews with a grain of salt, it looks like people get them confused with the insurance company)

E-renter customer support

I called e-renter and to ask how long a bankruptcy is reportable for. I was able to get through to a person in 26 seconds. I was told that bankruptcies are reportable for seven years unless you’re running a credit check. In those case it is 10 years.

I was given an answer of how far back they will report bankruptcy. I’m not sure why they differentiate how far back their data goes based on if you add a credit report or not. Just know if you don’t order a credit report, you’ll only go back seven years on bankruptcies.

Pros of Service:

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

Cons of Service:

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

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Tenant Background Check Service – Tenantify

We decided to not test customer support for this service because they do not offer bankruptcy or eviction data.

Online Reviews:
No Google or Facebook reviews found

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 standalone tenant screening service

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Tenant Background Check Service – MyRental

MyRental Phone Support (877) 496-3352
Contact Form
LiveChat: Yes

Online Reviews:
No Google or Facebook reviews found

MyRental customer support

I called MyRental and asked how long an eviction is reportable for since they don’t offer Bankruptcy data on their basic report. I found this phone support test to be the most troublesome.

I was told that eviction data goes back as far as court records will go. I prodded more and asked if there is any kind of laws that limit the reporting of evictions. I was put on hold and eventually told that they are reportable for seven years.

This was concerning because the first answer is the type of reply that can get a landlord in trouble. If a landlord uses an eviction from eight years ago as reasoning to deny a tenant applicant they could be liable to a lawsuit.

Pros of Service:

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

Cons of Service:

  • 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 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.