The 5 Best Tenant Screening Services For Landlords In 2024

Ally Kubarych

Ally Kubarych

Last Updated: July 16, 2024Published On: May 9, 2024
A magnifying glass rests on the roof of a small, wooden house with a blue background.

The 5 Best Tenant Screening Services For Landlords In 2024

Diving into the optimal tenant screening tools for property managers, how can you effectively manage this as a self-reliant landlord? It’s worth noting that these services are immensely valuable, simplifying your responsibilities as a property manager. Essentially, tenant screening entails the examination of a prospective tenant’s background, including employment and credit history, along with criminal records. These insights, along with additional information, enable you to select the most suitable tenant for your property.

Skipping the screening process can lead to negative outcomes, a topic we’ve detailed further in our tenant screening guide.

Below are our selections for the leading tenant screening tools for property managers in 2022:

  • Rentberry — Top Choice for Complimentary Screening
  • Rentme — Second Best Free Screening Service
  • RentPrep — Premier Choice for Paid Screening Services
  • SmartMove — Directly Linked with a Credit Reporting Agency
  • First Advantage — Renowned for Its Precise Assessments

We evaluated these screening applications based on the following criteria:

  • Their pricing
  • The breadth and utility of their features
  • The reliability of their reports
  • The range of platforms they support
  • Their provision of additional services

Let’s now delve into the foremost tenant screening resources for landlords to better understand the advantages and disadvantages of each, helping you align them with your specific requirements and objectives.

Rentberry — Top Choice for Complimentary Screening

For many first-time landlords who are hesitant to invest more into their properties than necessary, finding cost-effective solutions is key. Our guide on preparing properties for rental highlights numerous areas where resources might be better allocated than on costly tenant screenings.

This leads us to recommend Rentberry, a service that’s completely free for landlords. Here, you can obtain thorough background checks without spending a penny, which is a significant benefit. Rentberry offers this service at no cost, and the process is entirely streamlined. Landlords just need to list their properties on the Rentberry platform, and the service handles everything else.

Rentberry automates the collection of tenant information and provides detailed reports, including criminal, driving, and other records from state and national databases. This allows landlords to assess whether a tenant is suitable without any manual intervention.

Furthermore, Rentberry also provides a free credit check service. This service operates under the same hassle-free model, gathering information on the tenant’s identity, creditworthiness, rental, and employment history directly through the application process.

For those looking to understand what a good tenant credit score is, our blog offers an extensive discussion on tenant credit evaluations.

Here’s a breakdown of what Rentberry offers:

Cost: Free for both credit and background checks.

Features Included:

  • Criminal, driving, civil records.
  • Identity checks.
  • Creditworthiness.
  • Rental and employment history.

Advantages of Rentberry:

  • Accessibility: Available on iOS, Android, and web platforms, catering to a wide user base.
  • Customer Support: Renowned for excellent 24/7 support and includes chat services, ensuring help is always at hand.
  • Comprehensive Services: Beyond checks, Rentberry facilitates rent collection and negotiation, simplifying the landlord’s role significantly.

Limitations:

  • No Trial for Paid Services: Although this article focuses on free services, it’s worth noting that there are no free trials for any potential paid upgrades.

Data Source:

Rentberry gathers its data from Experian, ensuring accuracy and reliability.

Rentberry not only provides essential tenant screening free of charge but also enhances the rental management experience, making it an ideal choice for DIY landlords.

Rentme — Second Best Free Screening Service

Rentme stands out as another excellent choice for landlords seeking free tenant screening services, similar to Rentberry. What sets Rentme apart is that it offers all of its services at no cost to landlords, presenting an ideal platform for those new to property management to get involved and learn the ropes without financial risk.

Rentme Background and Credit Checks:

Cost: Free

Included in the Reports:

  • Comprehensive criminal and eviction history.
  • Integration of reported addresses and employment data.
  • Alerts on potential identity fraud.
  • Overview of financial standing including loans, credit cards, and other tradelines.
  • Collection histories and recent financial inquiries.
  • Public records and a unique ‘Resident Score’ assessing tenant suitability.

Rentme delivers combined background and credit reports, providing a thorough snapshot of a potential tenant’s past and current financial and legal status. The reports are instantly generated using the latest data from state and nationwide databases.

Setting up is straightforward: landlords simply create an account, list their properties, and invite applications. Rentme automates the detail collection, offering real-time screening without any additional effort from the landlord.

Advantages of Using Rentme:

  • Cost-Effective: Completely free services make Rentme highly accessible for all landlords.
  • Support and Accessibility: Despite being available only via web platforms, Rentme compensates with excellent around-the-clock customer support and a chat option for real-time assistance.
  • Tenant-Friendly: Rentme encourages tenant applications by allowing them to apply to numerous listings for a nominal fee, potentially increasing the pool of applicants for landlords.

Limitations:

  • Platform Availability: The lack of a mobile application may deter some landlords who prefer managing their properties on-the-go.

Additional Services Offered by Rentme:

Rentme does more than just tenant screening; it excels in comprehensive property management. Landlords can use Rentme to handle online payments, market properties, and manage maintenance requests efficiently and cost-free—all from their computers.

Data Source:

Rentme relies on TransUnion to gather and verify all tenant information, ensuring reliability and up-to-date accuracy.

Rentme is more than a screening service—it’s a full-fledged property management tool that could be the top recommendation for those prioritizing cost-saving without compromising on the depth and breadth of service.

RentPrep — Premier Choice for Paid Screening Services

RentPrep has carved out a niche for itself in the tenant screening market by eschewing automated processes in favor of manually handled credit checks. This approach ensures the accuracy of their reports, a feature that could significantly enhance the profitability of a landlord’s investment.

RentPrep Services Overview:

Background Check Features:

Cost: $18.95

Included: SSN verification, address history, nationwide eviction searches, bankruptcy checks, and judgments and liens.

RentPrep doesn’t limit itself to standard background checks; it offers various add-ons to tailor the service to specific needs. These enhancements include:

Optional Add-ons:

  • Nationwide Criminal & Sex Offender Search: $4.00
  • Credit Decision Report: $9.95
  • Income Verification: $10.00

The credit decision report is particularly noteworthy. Instead of a traditional credit score, it provides a binary decision—approved or rejected—along with the reasons for that decision, such as “excessive previous evictions.”

Credit Check Services:

Cost: $38.00

Included: A comprehensive package that combines a full credit report with ResidentScore, SSN verification, national criminal and sex offender search, nationwide evictions, bankruptcies, and an option for the applicant to pay.

This inclusive approach ensures that landlords have all necessary information at their fingertips, reducing uncertainty in tenant selection. Additional services like income verification are available for those requiring further financial insights.

Pros of RentPrep:

  • Accuracy: Manual review of reports minimizes errors, ensuring landlords don’t overlook potential tenants due to technical inaccuracies.
  • Detail-Oriented: Whether landlords need a simple approval or a detailed analysis, RentPrep offers varying levels of detail to meet different needs.
  • Efficiency: Despite the manual process, RentPrep delivers reports quickly, often within an hour after data verification.
  • Customer Support: Renowned for responsive service, RentPrep maintains positive reviews for its customer support.

Cons of RentPrep:

  • Cost: The premium for manual processing and detailed reports may deter budget-conscious, novice landlords.
  • Platform Limitations: RentPrep’s services are only accessible via web, lacking mobile application support.

Focused Services:

Unlike competitors that may offer a suite of property management tools, RentPrep specializes solely in tenant screening. This specialization allows them to perfect their craft without the distractions of other service areas.

Source of Data:

RentPrep utilizes data from TransUnion to ensure the reliability and accuracy of its screening processes.

RentPrep’s dedication to detailed, manually verified tenant screening positions it as a premium service provider in the market, ideal for landlords who prioritize thoroughness over cost.

SmartMove — Directly Linked with a Credit Reporting Agency

TransUnion’s SmartMove distinguishes itself in the tenant screening industry due to its affiliation with a credit bureau, lending it a high degree of trustworthiness compared to competitors.

SmartMove Screening Solutions:

SmartCheck Basic:

Cost: $25.00

Included: Credit-Based ResidentScore™, national criminal background report.

SmartCheck Basic is designed for landlords seeking a straightforward assessment of potential tenants, providing a simple ResidentScore alongside a criminal background check. The data, sourced directly from national databases through TransCard, ensures both extensive coverage and high accuracy.

SmartCheck Plus:

Cost: $38.00

Included: ResidentScore™, national criminal background report, full credit report, and national eviction report.

SmartCheck Plus offers a more comprehensive view of a tenant’s financial and residential history, ideal for landlords who require detailed insights into credit and eviction histories, sourced directly from TransUnion.

SmartShare Premium:

Cost: $40.00

Included: All features of SmartCheck Plus with additional income insights.

The premium service, SmartCheck Premium, extends beyond basic and plus offerings by providing income insights, simplifying verification of tenant income without needing to manually confirm employment details.

Advantages of SmartMove:

  • Accuracy and Trust: Direct integration with TransUnion guarantees precise and reliable reports.
  • Detailed Information: The inclusion of income insights in the premium package provides a deep dive into a tenant’s financial stability.
  • Tenant Compliance: Tenants are more likely to comply with the screening process knowing their information is handled by a reputable credit bureau, enhancing both security and comfort.

Disadvantages of SmartMove:

  • Cost: The services are priced at a premium, which may be prohibitive for some landlords.
  • No Trial Offerings: The absence of a trial period means landlords must commit financially without a preliminary test of the service.
  • Platform Limitation: Lacking a mobile application, SmartMove requires access through a web browser, which may limit accessibility for some users.

SmartMove’s Sole Focus:

Unlike other services that might offer a broader array of property management tools, SmartMove specializes solely in tenant screening. This focus allows it to refine its offerings to provide exceptional insight into prospective tenants.

Data Source:

SmartMove relies entirely on TransUnion for its data, ensuring consistency and reliability in the information provided.

For landlords seeking a reliable, comprehensive tenant screening service backed by the assurance of a credit bureau, SmartMove presents a valuable option, albeit at a higher cost.

First Advantage — Renowned for Its Precise Assessments

Rounding out our list, First Advantage presents a unique and globally expansive option for tenant screening, setting itself apart from its competitors in both scale and specialization.

First Advantage Services Overview:

Background Check Packages:

  • Choice: $34.00
  • Plus: $71.00
  • Premium: $104.00
  • Drug Testing Add-on: $10.00

While the premium services of First Advantage may appear costly, the Choice package generally suffices for most landlords. Notably, results from the optional drug test are available within 24-48 hours. First Advantage stands out for its extensive database access, capturing detailed eviction records and other information not typically reported to credit bureaus.

Key Benefits of First Advantage:

  • Comprehensive Accuracy: Sources from a broad range of databases ensure a high level of thoroughness, making it difficult for fraudulent tenants to bypass screenings.
  • Global Reach: With operations in 25 countries, First Advantage can conduct background checks for international properties, a significant benefit for landlords with overseas investments.
  • Drug Screening Capability: This unique service offers insights into potential drug use, an important consideration for many property managers.
  • Choice of Credit Bureaus: Unlike other services that rely on a single bureau, First Advantage allows landlords to choose from among the three main credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax—tailoring the data source to their specific needs.

Limitations of First Advantage:

  • Delayed Reports: Background checks can be slow, with no definitive timelines provided, which can be a source of frustration.
  • Customer Support Issues: Inconsistent and sometimes unhelpful customer service can detract from the user experience.
  • High Costs: The pricing structure is significantly higher than many competitors, potentially deterring cost-sensitive landlords.
  • Lack of Mobile Support: Services are limited to a web-based platform, lacking a mobile app for on-the-go management.

Exclusive Services Offered:

First Advantage focuses its expertise on a range of screening services that extend beyond real estate into various other industries, although these are not particularly relevant for DIY landlords.

Data Sourcing:

Unique in the industry, First Advantage offers landlords the flexibility to select their preferred credit bureau for obtaining data, ensuring that the information is as relevant and accurate as possible for their specific location and needs.

First Advantage provides a robust, if premium-priced, tenant screening service that excels in accuracy and global capability, ideal for landlords seeking depth and reliability in their tenant evaluations.

Conclusion: Evaluating the Top Tenant Screening Services for Landlords

While tenant screening services have revolutionized the landlord’s approach to vetting potential renters, the process isn’t entirely foolproof. Landlords must still engage actively, reviewing reports and negotiating with tenants, and there’s invariably some room for error.

At PURE, we offer a seamless end-to-end solution for the tenant screening process. Leveraging our extensive experience in residential property management, we’ve refined our methodology over the years to streamline every aspect of tenant screening effectively.

Beyond just screening tenants, PURE provides comprehensive property management services. We handle everything from maintenance to rent collection and from ensuring tenant satisfaction to safeguarding your investment—all at competitive pricing. With PURE, you can trust that your property and tenants are managed with the utmost care and professionalism.

Final Assessment — Rentberry Leads in Tenant Screening Services

Among the numerous tenant screening services available for landlords, Rentberry emerges as the standout choice, particularly for DIY landlords seeking efficient and free tenant credit checks. Rentberry’s service is not only complimentary but also comprehensive, providing essential background and credit information swiftly and effectively. This combination of cost-effectiveness and ease of use significantly enhances both landlord and tenant experiences.

Here’s a concise comparison of the leading services:

  • Rentberry:
    • Cost: Free for both landlords and tenants
    • Services: Offers thorough background and credit checks rapidly
    • Customer Support: Known for excellent service
    • Availability: Accessible across all major platforms
  • Rentme:
    • Cost: Free for landlords
    • Services: Includes additional features like marketing and rent negotiation
    • Customer Support: Maintains strong service
    • Availability: Limited to web applications
  • RentPrep:
    • Cost: $18.95 for a basic background check; $38.00 for a full credit report
    • Accuracy: Benefits from manual verification of records
    • Customer Support: Highly reliable
    • Availability: Web-only service
  • SmartMove:
    • Cost: $25.00 for a basic background check
    • Reliability: Directly affiliated with TransUnion, ensuring accuracy
    • Services: Provides detailed reports including income insights
    • Availability: Web-based platform only
  • First Advantage:
    • Cost: $34.00 for a basic background check, with additional options like drug testing
    • Flexibility: Allows selection between major credit bureaus for tailored data
    • Customer Support: Experiences some challenges
    • Availability: Primarily web-based service

In conclusion, Rentberry’s offering of no-cost, comprehensive checks alongside stellar customer service and broad accessibility places it at the forefront of tenant screening solutions for landlords.

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