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Before we get into the best tenant screening services for landlords, you may want to check out our full guide on what tenant screening is.
Let’s take a look at the best tenant screening services for landlords and how you can do it as a DIY landlord? With that being said, tenant screening services are incredibly useful and will make your job as a landlord much easier. In a nutshell, tenant screening involves checking a potential tenant’s background information, such as employment history, credit history, and criminal record. These details, coupled with a few others, will help you determine which tenant is the best match for your rental property.
Not performing tenant screening can result in a terrible experience for you. We’ve explained why that is the case in our tenant screening guide as well.
Here are our picks for the best tenant screening services for landlords in 2021, which we’ll go over in this article:
We ranked these tenant screening apps based on:
- How much they cost,
- The number of features and benefits they have,
- How accurate their reports are,
- How many platforms they’re available on, and
- Whether they include additional services.
Without further ado, let’s get into the top landlord tenant screening tools to understand the pros and the cons of each, and which are most suited to your needs and goals.
Rentberry – Best Free Tenant Screening Service
Many landlords, especially the ones who are just renting out their first property, won’t be too enthusiastic to drop extra money on their investment. If you’ve been over our guide to getting your property ready for a tenancy, you’ll notice that there are lots of other improvements that you’d rather pour your resources into.
That’s why we’ve chosen Rentberry — it’s absolutely free to use for landlords! You can get the best background checks for landlords here without having to pay a dime, and that’s highly powerful.
Rentberry Background Check
As mentioned, you don’t have to pay anything for a background check on a tenant while using Rentberry. What’s more, the process is incredibly automated and simple as well. You don’t need to step in at all. You simply need to list your property on Rentberry’s website, and they’ll do the rest.
They’ll ask for details from tenants and come up with a detailed background report for you. It’ll contain all the necessary information you need to decide for yourself whether a tenant is right for you or not. Considering that all of this happens instantly, we’d say that Rentberry has outdone themselves as far as free tenant screening is concerned.
Rentberry Credit Check
Just as with Rentberry’s background check, their credit check is also free. And their process is exactly the same too. The tenant fills out their details and you get a credit report filled with their rental history and employment background, and their creditworthiness as well.
If you’re interested in knowing what a good credit score is for a tenant, check out our blog where we discuss tenant credit checks in detail.
The information provided in this report is pretty much enough for you to make an informed decision on which tenants are right for you and your property.
Rentberry — Pros
- Available on most platforms: Rentberry is available on iOS, Android, and as a web app. This should be more than enough for the majority of users.
- Good customer support: According to tenant screening services reviews, Rentberry offers great 24/7 support, so you’ll never run into any issues without someone having your back. Chat support is also there for anyone who prefers that approach.
- Free tenant screening: You’ll get top tenant screening services for free with Rentberry, which is an amazing deal for any DIY landlord.
Rentberry — Cons
- No free trial: There’s no free trial on Rentberry’s paid services. However, since we’re only looking at their background and credit checks in this article, this barely counts.
Rentberry — Other services
For anyone interested, Rentberry goes beyond simple background and credit checks. They also offer rent collection and negotiation. In short, they make being a landlord incredibly easy as all you have to do is list your rental on their platform and let them handle the rest.
Rentberry — Source of Data
Rentberry gets all its information from Experian.
Rentme — Free Tenant Screening Runner Up
Like Rentberry, Rentme offers their tenant screening services for free, which makes them a huge asset for landlords wanting to get some background information on potential tenants without having to break the bank.
Unlike Rentberry, however, ALL of Rentme’s services are free to landlords. This could be a great opportunity for you to get your hands dirty and gain some experience with property management using the right tool.
Rentme Background Check
Rentme provides quick information that you can easily use to determine the compatibility of any tenant. The report is generated instantly and works with the latest information from state and nationwide databases. Rentme doesn’t generate separate reports for credit and background checks, however. Both of them are delivered at once, which some landlords might find convenient.
Rentme Credit Check
Rentme provides a considerable amount of detail on tenants in the report credit check section. This should be more than enough for any landlord to figure out if they’re okay with a tenant or not. In addition to all this, Rentme will also give you a Resident Score, which is their own assessment of whether a tenant is acceptable. It’s quick and easy, and you have to put in the minimal effort for all this to work.
Simply create an account, list your property and invite tenants to apply to it. Rentme collects their details by itself and grants you free tenant screening in real-time.
Rentme – Pros
- Completely free: Rentme has a multitude of services that are completely free to landlords.
- Great customer support: Rentme offers 24/7 customer support and also has the option to chat with company representatives.
- Easy for tenants: This company makes it easy for tenants to apply to houses since it only charges a nominal fee to apply to as many properties as they want over a month. This means more options for you!
Rentme — Cons
Only on the web: For landlords who want to keep track of their property on their phones, Rentme falls short.
Rentme — Other Services
This is where Rentme really shines. In fact, Rentme would have been our recommended app if we were talking about property management. This company allows you to collect online payments, market your property, resolve maintenance requests, all on your laptop. For free!
Rentme — Source of Data
Rentme collects its data from TransUnion.
RentPrep — Best Paid Tenant Screening App
Automated credit checks aren’t always accurate. Rentprep has really capitalized on that and has introduced a unique business model. Their credit checks are handled manually which results in highly accurate reports.
While some landlords may not want to pay a premium for this additional accuracy, RentPrep also throws in a bunch of details that aren’t available in background checks provided by other companies, and which may make your investment more profitable.
RentPrep — Background Check
RentPrep doesn’t just offer a simple tenant background check It also has optional add-ons that can enhance your experience.
This should be everything that the average landlord needs to be sure about what sort of tenant they’re inviting into their rental property, but RentPrep steps things up a notch.
You can also add extra layers to your report. Here are some add-ons you can opt into:
|Nationwide Criminal & Sex Offender Search||$4.00|
|Credit Decision Report||$9.95|
The credit decision report is a distinguishing feature as it makes tenant screening a breeze. You’ll simply be given a yes-or-no result based on the tenant’s details. You won’t be given a credit score or anything of the likes. However, the credit decision report will tell you why a tenant was accepted or rejected, with reasons such as ‘too many evictions’, etc.
RentPrep — Credit Check
The tenant credit check you’ll get from this company also includes a tenant background check, hence the commensurate price. It’s basically everything you’ll possibly need to get a good look at any potential tenant and never have to second guess yourself.
You can also get add-ons for income verification for an additional $10.
RentPrep — Pros
- Highly accurate: As mentioned before, RentPrep goes over your reports manually and makes sure there aren’t any errors. This means that you won’t be missing out on any great tenants due to a technical issue.
- Highly detailed: RentPrep goes out of their way to include all manner of details in their reports with varying degrees of information. Whether you want a simple ‘accepted or declined’ tag, or a detailed assessment of your tenant, you’ll find it all here.
- Quick service: They work surprisingly fast, considering they have to look over the reports themselves. You can get a report in an hour once the data has been verified by professional screeners.
- Great customer service: RentPrep has great reviews. You can call them during working hours and expect a quick response time. Tenant background check reviews have highlighted how good RentPrep is in this regard.
RentPrep — Cons
- Costly: As expected, RentPrep is expensive. While they’re providing top tenant screening services, the price tag will probably drive first-time landlords away.
- Only on the web: RentPrep doesn’t have any apps that you can download.
RentPrep — Other Services
RentPrep can’t be used for anything other than tenant screening, which we see as an advantage as the company can focus on what they do best without being distracted by any other projects.
RentPrep — Source of Data
This company gets its information from TransUnion.
SmartMove — Affiliated Directly With A Credit Bureau
TransUnion’s SmartMove has a clear advantage. It’s backed by a credit union, which makes them a lot easier to trust than other companies.
Tenants feel that their information will be safe with TransUnion and that enables them to go through with the process a lot more willingly than other tenant screening services for landlords. That doesn’t even mention that SmartMove is one of the oldest tenant screening services in the country and has tons of experience with it.
SmartMove — SmartCheck Basic
SmartMove’s most basic service is their SmartCheck basic. It’s for landlords who want a simple score that tells them if a tenant is right for them or not, along with a criminal background check.
TransUnion looks into national databases for these criminal history checks, which makes them very accurate and expansive.
SmartMove — SmartCheck Plus
SmartCheck Plus is the next package you can get from SmartMove. It covers a lot more details and will let you know the exact credit history of your tenants. Since it’s coming straight from the credit union, it’s trustworthy and generates instantly too. You’ll also know if your tenant has any history of evictions.
SmartMove — SmartCheck Premium
Lastly, we’ve got the SmartCheck Premium package, which not only offers everything that the SmartCheck Plus package offers but also includes income insights.
This is a great alternative to digging into your tenant’s work history, asking for pay stubs, and calling their employers to make sure they work where they say they do. SmartMove makes the task really easy and does this check in minutes.
SmartMove — Pros
- Accurate results: Since SmartMove is working directly with TransUnion, the reports are generally more accurate.
- More information: We especially appreciate how detailed SmartMove’s Income Insights are. There’s a diverse range of opt-ins that you can pay for and they heavily affect the outcome of your tenant screening.
- Easier for tenants: A lot of tenants are put at ease when they know that their sensitive data isn’t going to any third parties and will remain safe with a credit bureau. They’re far more likely to give their details, resulting in a smoother tenant screening.
SmartMove — Cons
- Very expensive: Even the bare minimum that SmartMove is offering is really expensive. If you’re willing to dish out $25 for a basic overview of your tenant, go right ahead. However, we feel as though there are better options out there.
- No free trial: SmartMove doesn’t offer free trials on any of their packages. It would have been great for them to include a partial background check so landlords could be sure that they want to pay for their full rental background check.
- Only on the web: SmartMove doesn’t have any apps, so you’ll have to work through a browser.
SmartMove — Other Services
You’ll only get tenant screening services for landlords from SmartMove. TransUnion seems to have stuck to what they could do best, which is to provide great insight and screen tenants effectively. If you’re looking for additional services, you can have a look at RentMe, RentBerry, and First Advantage from our list of best tenant screening services for landlords
SmartMove — Source of Data
SmartMove gets all its data from TransUnion.
First Advantage — For Extreme Accuracy
Last on our list, but probably not the least — depending on your needs, we have the First Advantage.
This company is very different from everything else we’ve mentioned. For one, it’s on a whole new scale — The first Advantage provides its services in 25 different locations around the world.
They’re heavily specialized in running background checks for a large array of industries and individuals. Of course, they also provide tenant screening, otherwise, we wouldn’t be talking about them.
First Advantage — Background Check
The first advantage may cost a lot for their top-tier services. However, their basic Choice package should be more than enough for most landlords. A drug test can take around 24-48 hours before you have a result slip in your hand.
One thing that First Advantage excels at is its access to large databases. A lot of evictions aren’t properly reported to credit bureaus, but First Advantage has databases that cover all these details, and can thus get you results that not even credit bureaus themselves can.
First Advantage — Pros
- High levels of accuracy: First Advantage have a wide range of sources from where they get their information. It’s almost impossible for a fraudulent tenant to get past their checks.
- Large service area: First Advantage is in a large number of countries, so you could even get them to run background checks on tenants for properties you may have outside of the US.
- Drug tests: This unique feature puts this company in the spotlight. You’ll be able to know if your tenant has a history of illicit drug use.
- The choice of credit bureau: While most landlord-tenant screening services work with a single bureau to extract information on tenants, First Advantage lets you choose the bureau yourself.
First Advantage — Cons
- Tenant Background checks can take a while: You may not even receive an estimate as to when your background check will be complete and that can lead to a frustrating experience.
- Not the best customer service: With the checks taking a while, the fact that First Advantage’s customer service can be spotty and downright useless at times puts a damper on their high accuracy and professionalism towards reporting.
- No free trial: First Advantage doesn’t offer free trials on any of their packages.
- No apps: You’ll only be able to work on a laptop using their web app if you want to screen your tenants with them.
- Extremely expensive: First Advantage is a lot more costly than their competition, and that could be off-putting for many landlords.
First Advantage — Other Services
While First Advantage offers screening for many different industries, like case management, analytics and reporting, and even investigative research, none of them really apply to DIY landlords.
Tenant screening is all that you’ll get from this company.
First Advantage — Source of Data
A major offering by First Advantage that we haven’t seen from anywhere else is that they allow you to choose which credit bureau you receive your data from. You can make the choice between the 3 main bureaus, namely Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, depending on which area your property is in. That’ll allow you to get the best tenant background check possible.
Best Tenant Screening Services For Landlords — In Conclusion
Tenant screening services have greatly simplified the process for landlords, but they’re not a perfect solution. You’ll still need to put in some effort — there are reports to be looked at and tenants to be negotiated with. Plus, there’s always a margin for error.
At HomeVault, we take care of everything for you. From start to finish, you don’t have to worry about the tenant screening process whatsoever. We have our own process of tenant screening which we’ve developed over years with our decades of experience in residential property management.
What’s more? We also take care of maintenance, rent collection, tenant satisfaction, and ensure that your rental investment is in the best hands … all for great prices!
Our Verdict — Rentberry
The best credit check for landlords is Rentberry. Of all the best landlord-tenant screening services we’ve looked at, Rentberry offers the best free tenant credit check when we keep DIY landlords in mind. Most DIY landlords are looking to get a quick background check that can assist them in making a decision, and Rentberry’s reports have everything you could need in them.
The fact that they get all of this to you for free is great for you AND your tenants make the entire system a breeze and a wonderful experience. The best part about these Tenant Screening Services for Landlords is they are available on all major platforms and have great customer service and qualities that stand out. Thus we put them at the top of our list.
Here’s a short summary
|First Advantage|| |