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Tenant Screening - Not the Time To Cut Corners

Date: 11/30/-0001

When you screen renters, you need the best quality data for your background check


 When screening perspective renters, selecting the company to run background checks is not when you  want to go bargain basement shopping. There are many companies in the screening industry to choose from and understanding what “ingredients” they contain is essential for accuracy.

For starters, there is truly no nationwide electronic database for criminal and eviction records that covers all 50 States. Screening reports currently contain data from 45 States. For example, in New England, Massachusetts does not provide criminal histories to screening companies, you need to buy that data separately from the Massachusetts State Police for $25 per applicant.

Tenant screening services are not alike, you need the most accurate report for your area that you can purchase. Each report should contain;

  • Full credit report with score
  • National eviction and criminal history search
  • Terrorist watch-list and sex-offender info
  • People search
  • Compiled information showing a renter’s lease and payment history reported by landlords and management companies.

Let’s talk about the credit report component first. You do not need a social security number to obtain a credit report, just a full name and address. Renters with green cards or no documents can apply for credit cards using a tax-payer identification number so running credit reports without a social security number is an option you want to have available to you.

Further, credit reports no longer show civil court cases or Federal and State tax-liens in their public records section, just bankruptcies. This change occurred back in 2017, so you need another product to find Civil and Small Claims Court judgements.

There are a few national eviction databases available for screening services to use but only one database provides housing court, civil & small claims court and tax-lien information and  this data cost more to purchase than just the national eviction database. How can any screening company justify that saving $0.50 on their wholesale report costs is proper? Yet, most do and  choose the lesser quality eviction database, this omission creates needless and it’s important to access these court records.

Most screening companies also fail to provide a People Search and that’s invaluable information and essential for an accurate screening report. You need a People Searches to uncover “Alias Names” and previous address history associated with the applicant’s social security number .

Why is this important? Eviction records are based on a name and address match only. If an applicant was evicted three times and then got married and changed their last name, none of the three previous evictions under the maiden name would show unless the screening company is using an “Alias Name Matching” algorithm.

However, it’s not a simple as it seems. The National Eviction databases allows you to run only one applicant name search only. We have uncovered records with as many as 19 alias names and over 25 previous addresses. To use this technology, you need to host eviction records on your own server to then apply the “alias name logic” after all the national databases have run. Then you can gather all the information uncovered with the national products and next search for eviction and criminal records hosted on the company server to match alias names .

TenantTracks has its own complete Connecticut eviction database that includes all 15 housing court locations, not just 11 courts that other companies search. We also host Rhode Island and Massachusetts eviction records on our server to look for alias name matches. Recently, the New Hampshire Courts  approved our request to compile their eviction cases so we will soon have a set of those eviction records as well.

Most tenant screening companies just “Private Label” a national screening company’s product and mark up their price leaving everyone involved to the rental transaction exposed to their average quality data. When it comes to tenant screening, you want the best data possible!

Quality counts, it shouldn’t cost more when screening tenants. Landlords should insist on the best quality screening reports because today it can cost you dearly! With the courts backed up, you can never be too careful about renting apartments so choose the best quality screening report you can get your hands on and from a company that only does tenant screening.

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