Last updated June 3, 2020
Landlords, real estate agents, and property managers can all benefit from the speed, accuracy, and efficiency of a tenant screening service. But not all of these services are alike. Some differ greatly in the tools and reports they offer. This article is to help anyone who asks, “What is the best tenant screening service?” We’ve composed a list of the top screening companies. This guide will help you decide which tenant screening service is best for you and your business needs.
We used a 5-star rating system to measure and compare the best tenant screening services.
Tenant Services Assessment Criteria
1. Online Rental Application
The availability of a free online rental application that applicants can fill out online.
2. Credit Score and Credit Report
We looked at whether or not you receive a credit report, and, if so, is it a full report and score?
3. Criminal Background Check
This shows the renter’s past convictions. Is the background check nationwide or state-specific?
4. Eviction History
This report shows previous addresses and time frames in the tenant’s resident history. It will show any court actions related to an eviction.
How much does the service cost? Are there bundles or a la carte options?
6. Who Pays the Screening Fee?
Does the applicant pay the screening fee, or do you have the option to pay?
7. Turnaround Time
How long does it take to get reports in hand from time of order?
8. Method to Request Reports
What process does the user undergo to receive the reports?
|Online Rental Application||Yes||Yes||-||Yes||-|
|Credit Report||TransUnion||Experian||Experian||TransUnion||One of Big 3||TransUnion||Big 3|
|Credit Score||ResidentScore™||VantageScore||VantageScore||ResidentScore™||Tenant Risk Score||ResidentScore™||FICO Score|
|Criminal Background Check||TransUnion||Checkr||-||TransUnion or RentPrep||One of Big 3||TransUnion||Yes|
|Eviction History||TransUnion||-||-||TransUnion||One of Big 3||TransUnion||Yes|
|Comparable Pricing||$30||$39.99||$14.95||$35||$29.99||$38||$39.95 - $49.95|
|Who Pays the Fee?||Applicant or Agent||Applicant Only||Applicant Only||Applicant or Agent||Applicant or Agent||Applicant or Agent||Applicant or Agent|
|Turnaround Time||Instantly||Within 1 Day||Instantly||Instantly||Instantly||Instantly||Instantly|
|Method to Request Reports||Email / Text
|Email Link to Apply|
|Supplemental Documents||Yes w/ PRO||No||-||-||Yes||-||-|
|Reference Checking||Yes w/ PRO||Yes||-||+$12||-||-||No|
RentSpree Tenant Screening Services
Does RentSpree Tenant Screening offer additional features : Yes
You’ll want a service that does it all: credit reports, background checks, previous and current landlord history, eviction history, reference checking, and more. RentSpree is a full-service online tenant application and screening platform with all of these features. Applicants can apply directly online to your property via a LeaseLink™ that you send them. You can collect online rental applications and screen them all at once.
With RentSpree you receive the best features of tenant screening services. You receive a secure and free online rental application where your applicants fill out their information directly. Best of all, RentSpree protects the applicant’s information via a secure portal and it performs a soft credit inquiry which is not detrimental to the applicant’s credit like a hard inquiry is.
RentSpree provides a fully detailed TransUnion credit report presented in an easy-to-read format that includes: the credit score, payment history, inquiries, trade lines, collections, and more.
RentSpree provides access to extensive criminal records including Most Wanted lists and the National Sex Offender Registry. The background check report searches more than 200 million criminal records (national and state databases).
Previous evictions can foretell a potential loss of rental property income for the owner, so these are very important predictors in the tenant screening process. The evictions report does not contain excessive codes and legal jargon, so it’s easy to understand. You receive a nationwide eviction report that includes a search for previous evictions, court records, tenant judgments, writs and warrants of eviction.
With RentSpree PRO ($9.99/month), you can request that the rental applicant upload additional required documents such as proof of income and government issued identification.
Reference checking is also available with RentSpree PRO, which allows references to be sent emails or texts asking them to verify online application information.
RentSpree is free for the real estate agent, property manager, or landlord. The applicant pays the screening fee. Prices for a premium package starts at $30. These reports are available instantly as soon as the applicant authorizes their reports.
The method to obtain the reports is as follows: You sign up for a free RentSpree account using your email address and password. You can then send applicants a LeaseLink which takes them to the online rental application and procures their permission to generate their screening reports.
RentSpree tenant screening service offers everything that you could want and need in a tenant screening company. The tenant pays the fee, and you receive full credit, background check, and eviction reports. Also, you can collect documents and include reference checking.
Cozy.co Tenant Screening Services
Does Cozy.Co Tenant Screening offer additional features : Yes
Renters can apply directly to the homes or apartments listed on Cozy.co. The applicant pays for their own background check and credit reports online. These reports are then returned back to you.
You can receive a full Experian credit report with VantageScore 3.0 credit score, payment history, and open accounts. Cozy.co uses Checkr for its background checks and it includes a terrorist watch list search, a sex offender search, and a nationwide criminal records search.
Cozy.co does not call references, but they give you the option to request a 500-character testimonial from the reference via email.
You cannot pay for the screening reports. Rental applicants are required to pay for the background check and credit reports. They can pay for both reports as a bundle for $39.99 or $24.99 each. The turnaround time depends upon how quickly the applicant gives the landlord permission to view their reports.
The method to request the reports is as follows: Applicant applies directly to the property and pays for their background check and credit reports online. The reports are emailed to the landlord.
Cozy.co offers higher pricing than other screening services that offer a comparable product package.
Experian Connect Tenant Screening Services
Does Experian Tenant Screening offer additional features : No
Experian Connect does not offer a rental application. The applicant does have to fill out an online form to verify their identity and to grant you access to privately view their credit report for up to 30 days.
They provide a VantageScore credit score range based on an Experian credit report with the best name, address, employer (current and previous) on file, credit history with account payments (real estate, auto, revolving, installment, and collection), credit inquiries, public record filings (bankruptcies, tax liens, foreclosures, and civil judgments).
Experian Connect does not offer background checks or eviction history reports. Furthermore, Experian Connect lacks all of the bells and whistles to help you handle the other necessary aspect of tenant screening like reference checking.
The pricing is free for landlords, property managers, and real estate agents. The applicant pays $14.95 for their credit report. The turnaround time is as soon as the tenant verifies their identity and grants you access to the report.
The method for report requests is as follows: The tenant is invited to fill out an online form to verify their identity. Applicants pay for their credit report and grant you access to it.
Experian Connect is basically a credit report and does not include a criminal record search or dedicated eviction history reports. Experian connect is a great option if you’re looking for a bare-bones, credit check. But fails if your aim is to use more robust data as part of your tenant screening process.
RentPrep Tenant Screening Services
Does RentPrep Tenant Screening offer additional features : Yes
RentPrep provides a pdf version of a free rental application. You can receive a credit report, but it depends on which package you choose to purchase. The SmartMove package offers you a full credit report by TransUnion. The credit score you receive is not the exact score. It’s a credit check pass/fail star rating. For instance, if you have a high-end rating, you’ll want to see four stars, meaning this person has very good or excellent credit.
RentPrep offers two main screening packages:
- Transunion SmartMove Credit Report for $35
- RentPrep Background Check for $18.95
If you choose the SmartMove package, you’ll get the credit report, background check, and eviction report.
As an available add-on for the SmartMove package, you may also request a Judgment and Lien search ($4.95) or employment/rental history verification ($12.00). The verification service means RentPrep will check up to three references by phone.
If you don’t care for a full credit report and score, try the RentPrep Background Check. This includes SSN verification, address history, eviction report, judgments and liens, and bankruptcies. You can also order add-ons if needed. Verification (reference) calls cost an extra $12 and so do national criminal and sex offender reports for $4.
Deciding who pays for the tenant screening fee depends on which package you buy. If you purchase the RentPrep Background Check, you pay the screening fee. If you buy the SmartMove package, then you can choose to let the tenant pay.
The method for obtaining the reports is as follows: You sign up for a free account, choose a package, order extras (add-ons) if needed, upload verification documents, and pay online.
RentPrep does not offer instant reports. A RentPrep report typically takes about one to two business hours after the order. If you added verification calls, it could take 24 hours to complete the phone call verification during the business week.
The SmartMove report makes the information available within minutes of the applicant verifying their identity, so the turnaround time depends on how long it takes the applicant to respond to verify their identity.
RentPrep charges extra for background check features (nationwide criminal records and sex offender search), but they do offer reference checking by phone. Furthermore, the SmartMove screening price is more expensive than alternatives who offer the same screening reports for less.
CoreLogic MyRental Tenant Screening Services
Does Corelogic MyRental Tenant Screening offer additional features : No
CoreLogic MyRental offers a free rental application that applicants can fill out online. Instead of a credit score, you’ll receive a tenant score that measures the risk of a tenant defaulting on a lease. MyRental uses data from the credit bureaus, bankruptcy record, and payment history to determine the tenant score. Some packages include a full credit report, nationwide criminal records, and evictions history reports. You can specify which documents you would like the applicant to upload or submit via the MyRental platform. MyRental does not check references.
There are three MyRental plans to choose from. Basic is $19.99 but does not include credit history information. It does have an eviction and criminal background check. To get a credit report and score, you’ll have to pay $29.99 for Premium and $34.99 (Premium Plus) for statistics about how the applicant scored in comparison with other renters in the area. You decide who pays for the screening fee. The turnaround time depends on how quickly the applicant verifies their identity.
The method is as follows: When you want to screen applicants, you can fill in the info about the applicant on the MyRental platform and then submit it for screening. The applicant grants you access to their credit information and you receive the reports.
CoreLogic MyRental is one of the top tenant screening companies but does not check references.
TransUnion SmartMove Tenant Screening Services
Does Transunion Smartmove Tenant Screening offer additional features : No
TransUnion SmartMove does not provide a free online rental application that the applicant fills out. You can receive a TransUnion credit score and credit report. The credit score is also a credit-based ResidentScore which is based on a model that predicts rental industry outcomes.
You receive a nationwide criminal record report as well as eviction history report. SmartMove does not offer a document uploading feature nor reference checking. You can choose to pay for the screening fee or have your applicant pay for it. There are three plans available that range in price from $25 to $40 per applicant. The turnaround time depends on the speed at which the applicant responds to authenticating their identity and granting access to their credit information.
The method to request reports is as follows: You create an account and send your applicant an invitation. The applicant receives the invite and completes the online application. After their identity is verified, SmartMove sends the applicant’s reports to you.
TransUnion SmartMove does not offer a rental application, reference checks, or a document uploading option.
American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA) Tenant Screening Services
Does American Apartment Owners Association Tenant Screening offer additional features : No
AAOA offers a free rental application as a PDF file for AAOA members and guests. Tenant screening services are available to both members and non-members. AAOA members do receive a $10 discount on screening services. You can receive a full credit report and score depending on which package you purchase, those credit reports could be in the form of a traditional FICO report, ResidentScore, VantageScore or NRS. The criminal background check can be purchased with some packages. Be careful when selecting a package because some only include criminal records history for one state rather than the whole United States. For evictions, you must pay for the most expensive package ($49.95) in order to get a nationwide eviction history. The less expensive packages include only state-specific eviction history, and some do not include the eviction history at all. The packages range in price from $19.95 to $49.95 each. It should be noted that although reference checks are not included in any specific package, they can be included as a separate add-on.
There is no document uploading with AAOA. You pay the screening fee, and the turnaround time is instant except for requests that include a credit report or score, which comes from one of the big 3 bureaus.
The method to request reports is as follows: You provide AAOA with tenant information and pay for the package of reports you wish to purchase. You receive the tenant screening reports in that package instantly except for the credit report because the applicant will need to grant you permission to view their credit report. AAOA emails the tenant a unique link so that they can verify their identity and release the credit report to you. AAOA emails you when the credit report is ready for viewing.
AAOA charges extra to get nationwide eviction and criminal records. You must purchase the Gold package at $49.95 in order to get a nationwide criminal record search and nationwide evictions report. Most agents and landlords want to search records from all over the United States rather than from one specific state. If a criminal background check is a critical feature for your tenant screening process, be prepared to incur additional expense to access such reports.
All of these tenant screening services are upstanding, but some offer more than others. It’s a good idea to do your homework before choosing a tenant screening company for your rentals. The more you know about these companies and their features, the more money you can save and put back into your business. Reducing your costs and liability is key in choosing the right tenant screening service.