When you're trying to keep hundreds of apartment units occupied and producing income, the idea of personally screening new tenants can push you over the edge into exhaustion. Outsource at least a little of your property management responsibility to a tenant screening service. These services offer three additional benefits on top of the credit and rental history reports you receive.

Gauge Response Time

Developing a complete sense of who a renter is requires more than just a report showing their history of paying rent and managing their credit. If you use a service where the screening company contacts the applicant to request their information, the amount of time it takes the applicant to respond tells you a lot about them. Taking days or even weeks to complete the screening process indicates the person may stall on important tasks like renewing the lease or sending in rent payments too. At the very least, you know that notifications to ask about repair needs or to schedule maintenance visits are unlikely to get answered promptly.

Scare Away Untrustworthy Applicants

Noting that you require a background check and credit score as part of your rental ad works wonders to discourage bad renters from the very beginning. Knowing that their former rent payment problems and property damages will show up on your reports reduces the number of applications you get that don't fit your requirements at all. Why spend time on all those extra applications when you can subtly discourage bad renters from even applying?

Requiring the application and screening step before you show properties also eliminates a lot of people who waste your time. Some visitors just want to see what's available before deciding to move, then they end up at another rental property instead of yours. The fee and wait for a tenant screening service means every application you receive is from someone ready and motivated to rent.

Catch False Information

Don't fall for a bait and switch when you can use a tenant screening report and a photo I.D. to catch crooks. The common scam involves someone posing as the tenant and applying with their pristine credit and history, then letting someone else move in under their name. Checking the I.D. of the person who actually moves in can reveal if they match the original application or not.

Other scam artists falsify information like:

  • Social Security numbers and birth dates, to disguise their credit score and criminal history.
  • Income information, which is collaborated with fake check stubs.
  • References and previous landlords, by asking friends and family members to pose as these people.

Watch out for reports that return with no credit history at all. This often indicates fake information given for the screening, since it's easy enough for a tenant to use their child's SSN instead to avoid revealing their own low scores and owed payments.

Measure Unit Demand

Opening up rental on a specific unit and seeing what type of people apply for it can reveal a lot about how the apartment is perceived by tenants. For example, you may need to raise the rent or invest in real improvements if your supposedly luxury penthouse only attracts applicants with low income levels and bad rental histories. Just keep in mind applicants must violate written and carefully worded requirements if you turn them down or you can face penalties for violating the Fair Housing Act.

Establish Expectations

Finally, a thorough tenant screening shows your applicants you're serious about managing properties. Tenants who agree to share their credit and rental history with you also know you're likely to catch their secret pet that breaks the lease or evict them for daily noise violations. Send the message that you're an engaged and active property manager from the start instead of trying to prove it later.