Tenant screening is like putting every applicant through a metal detector. You can see anything dangerous they may be hiding.
It's as important at an apartment as it is at an airport. It's so important that 90% of landlords at least run a criminal background check.
The only difference is that you as a landlord don't have the right technology to do it yourself. That's why you need a tenant screening service. Read on to learn three things to look out for when choosing one.
1. Legal Compliance
The FCRA or Fair Credit Reporting Act ensures that information is secure. This includes anything that comes up in the consumer report during tenant screening.
You must notify tenants about the report and what's on it. This includes telling them if it causes you to take an adverse action against them such as:
- Denying their application
- Requiring a co-signer
- Requiring a deposit
- Charging higher rent
You can't use the information for anything besides housing. You have to shred or otherwise destroy it after use.
Expect the same level of legal knowledge from your tenant screening service. Make sure they're FCRA-compliant and avoid those who won't verify their compliance status.
They also need to obey the Fair Housing Act and other local discrimination laws. If they perform a criminal background check on one applicant, they need to do it on all of them.
2. Report Content and Delivery
Look into all of the checks that the company includes on its reports. These may include:
- Credit reports
- Proof of income
- Criminal history
- Eviction and rental history
The more thorough the report, the better. A credit check only provides their credit score while a credit report also includes a history of their lines of credit.
Check what database they're using to get their information. It should be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. Look into the accuracy of the information as well.
Get an idea of when the report will come back to you. Look for services that do it quickly for efficient tenant placement.
Quality tenant screening is an investment. It prevents the high cost of vacancies and the potential damage from a dangerous or delinquent tenant.
Look at how much the service charges and how often they'll send you a bill. They may require a monthly fee or only charge a flat price for each report.
It's also legal to charge tenants a fee for tenant screening in Philadelphia. It may not make them happy, but they'll understand if you're transparent about it. It also indicates that they're a serious candidate.
How Can Property Management Help with Tenant Screening?
Tenant screening services are essential for filling vacancies with the right applicants. Find one that complies with all local laws, offers timely and comprehensive reports, and charges a fair price.
Getting property management in Philadelphia is the final step. They can help you move them in and see if they're as much of a grade-A candidate as you think they are.
Property Management International Greater Philadelphia has a team of experienced property managers. Get a free rental analysis to see how we can help grow your investment today.