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Choosing the Best Tenant Screening Platform
The best way to learn who your tenants are before handing over the keys is to use a high-quality tenant screening platform that covers as many data points as possible. Let's talk about what to look for in a quality tenant screening report and why CTPOA endorses TenantTracks as a preferred tenant screening provider.
We've all heard the horror stories. A tenant destroys the apartment or stops paying rent and refuses to leave, which turns into a long legal battle trying to evict and you end up losing thousands of dollars fighting in a pro-tenant legal system.
Now, more than ever, it's imperative to know who you are renting to. The best way to learn who your tenants are before handing over the keys is to use a high-quality tenant screening platform that covers as many data points as possible. You should always use the most comprehensive screening report to have peace of mind knowing your rental is in good hands.
So, let's talk about what to look for in a quality tenant screening report and why CTPOA endorses TenantTracks as a preferred tenant screening provider.
In general, you want to use a company that uncovers and reports as much tenant data as possible. Oftentimes, screening companies will use data from somewhere like TransUnion and just add their own branding to it, this is called “Private Labeling.” There is one company, however, TenantTracks, that takes this data, and then compounds it with many extra data points to ensure the full picture of the potential tenant is being reported.
You never want to use a platform that offers a-la-carte reporting. We've never understood why a company would withhold important and extremely helpful data for you. For example, they'd give you a criminal report, but not a credit report. How are you supposed to make an informed leasing decision if you only have a piece of the pie? Soon you'll come to realize you're paying much more than you should be buying the report bit by bit. So, make sure you work with a company that gives you the whole pie up front. No funny business. No stress over discriminatin complaints and no hidden fees for more data.
It’s standard for a background check to include criminal, eviction data and credit scores. What you’re going to want to keep an eye out for is the following very important information.
- Nationwide Law-Suits, Liens and Judgments report including small claims cases
- US Criminal Search including the National Sex-Offender Registry
- OFAC Report (Terrorist Watch-list Report) to comply with the U.S. Patriot Act
If you’re looking to cover ALL bases (and you should when it comes to your property), we highly recommend taking advantage of the following tenant data points TenantTracks provides as well.
- CT Small Claims Cases with 7 years of full records
- A People Search showing all known names and previous addresses associated with your applicant’s social security number
- CT Housing Court Records with 7 full years of records from all 15 Courts, not just 11
- Alias name logic, detailing name changes from divorces and marriages
- An internal & exclusive database of non-compliant tenants using owner-reported data
TenantTracks is proud to provide these important extra benefits, included in ALL of their reports. Let’s break them down a bit more.
Believe it or not, not all tenant screening platforms include civil case data, though they 100% should. It’s important to know what parties were involved in a lawsuit and what prompted the lawsuit in the first place. Credit reports no longer show civil court judgments in their report so you need to make sure small claims lawsuits, especially housing cases are covered.
Moreso, not every Connecticut Court reports their files to the National Eviction databases efficiently, or at all. TenantTracks goes the extra mile to extract this data from all the courthouses in Connecticut, unlike their competitors. To do this, TenantTracks sends data collectors to record the information on these “Offline Cases” in Bantam, New London, Danielson and Derby Courts and then uploads the information to their own server.
What’s an alias name? You might not realize how important this actually is in tenant screening. Mary Smith might not show any eviction records, but if you were to run her name through the TenantTracks “Alias Name Logic”, you might see her maiden name was Jones, not Smith, and she’s had three past evictions. This is crucially important data for landlords. The People Search allows for ALias Name logic to be used and is another extra measure TenantTracks uses to provide more accurate screening reports.
Lastly, and this one we’re very excited about. TenantTracks has recently incorporated a new Tenant performance Database function free for all users. You can now report tenant payment data about your tenants. So what does this mean? TenantTracks is taking their tenant reporting to a whole new level. Traditional reports fail to report critical, real-time tenant payment information, but with their new “Tenant Performance” database, you can easily report updates about your tenant in real time. This data will then be shown to future landlords for 7 years. Here are some of the important tenant payment events you’ll be able to report.
- Notice to Quit Served
- Summons and Complaint Served
- Tenants paid rent after 10 days grace period
- Tenant made partial payment
- Tenant made no payment / no legal action taken
- Tenant served notice of lease violation
- Cash for keys paid in lieu of eviction
Pretty powerful, right? You can now paint a much more clear picture of tenant history. This will save future landlords the hardship of dealing with non-compliant tenants and improve the rental housing industry.
We’ve covered a lot in the article, but as landlords ourselves, we want you to understand how drastically different some tenant screening companies are from others, and how easily you can fall into a trap when you’re not getting the most accurate data. Across New England, your choice is easy. Choose TenantTracks, the most accurate tenant screening platform available.