Using a Tenant Screening Service

Typically the first step in assessing a potential renter, tenant screening is a service that may be provided by some property management companies as well as businesses dedicated specifically to the practice.

To assess a screening service, owners may wish to concern themselves particularly with the firm’s compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and other laws and regulations.

Businesses should have any needed certifications in order to interview prospective renters, as well as use security measures appropriate to the sensitivity of the information they handle.

The service should have nationwide coverage and access to all three major credit bureaus to ensure it can find applicant’s records. Owners may also want to determine whether they are accredited by the Better Business Bureau or have similar credentials.

When looking at prospective residents, the service should:

♦ Review their credit ratings and history to see whether they have a record of paying past leases, loans and other obligations on time and in full.
♦ Check to ensure they do not have a criminal record.
♦ Determine whether they are currently employed and have sufficient income to support themselves and make payments as required.
♦ Check with past landlords, if any, to see what they have to say about tenants.
♦ Apply the same standards and perform the same investigations for every tenant to avoid discrimination.
If rejecting a prospective tenant due to his or her credit report, the manager or owner must remember to comply with the FCRA by telling the applicant that fact in writing and delivering a copy of the credit report.