You want to check out your tenants before signing, and tenant screening reports are here to help. I investigate the best tenant screening services.

Renting out property can be a great way to expand your income, but when you’re a landlord, you also worry about getting good tenants. You want to make sure that your tenants will always pay their rent on time and look after your property, and you want to avoid those who will cause you huge amounts of stress by paying late, skipping payments, and breaking your tenant rules.

That’s why you need to run a tenant credit and background check for renters whenever you look for new tenants.

The background and credit check services for landlords I’ll mention today, help you distinguish between good and bad tenants before you get burned. They can also help you decide whether or not they are trustworthy, and sometimes even assist you in finding applicants in the first place.

Overview of the best tenant screening services

Tenant screening serviceBest for
RentPrepLandlords with 50 or more properties
TurboTenantAll in one tenant screening and landlord services
E-renterLow-cost, basic background checks
MyRentalMaking quick decisions about an applicant
National Tenant NetworkManaging every aspect of renting property online
SmartMove by TransUnionDetailed financial information
LeaserunnerLandlords who want to pick and choose the reports they need

RentPrep

Best Tenant Screening Services - RentPrepRentPrep offers full tenant credit and background checks for renters. It stands out for the supportive service it offers to newbie landlords who aren’t confident about the process of screening tenants. It’s one of the few services to use FCRA-certified agents to compile the background checks.

RentPrep offers human guidance, so you can consult an expert opinion whenever you need it.

What does it check for?

The RentPrep background check includes:

  • SSN verification.
  • Verification of the applicant’s recent known addresses.
  • History of judgments and liens.
  • History of bankruptcies.
  • National eviction search, including evictions that were served but not processed.
  • National search for criminal history.
  • Global homeland security search for involvement in international fraud, terrorist activity, or drug trafficking.

All these features are included in the RentPrep package. You can also add a national sex offender and criminal registry search, and a credit check for an added fee. For data privacy reasons, the credit check won’t show you a full credit report, but only a pass or fail conclusion based on the level of credit that you want your tenants to possess.

If you choose the SmartMove automated report, you’ll get a full credit report and national sex offender and criminal registry search included in the price, but you’ll have to pay extra for a search on judgments and liens.

Additional landlord tools

RentPrep only offers a tenant screening report, without any extra tools to help you rent or market your property.

Price

The background check is the cheapest package offered by Rent Prep and is compiled, by hand, by trained agents. Costing only $19.95, it is a good option for landlords looking for the basics. If you want a little more peace of mind, the credit check add-on costs $9.95, and the nationwide criminal and sex offender search costs an extra $4.

A more expensive package, the automated option, called SmartMove Full Credit Report, comes in at $38.95. This one focuses on the applicant’s credit standing. If you choose this package, you can add on a search for judgments and liens for an extra $4.

RentPrep also has an Enterprise package for landlords with 50 or more properties. You’ll need to apply for a custom discounted quote to take advantage of this. 

TurboTenant

Best Tenant Screening Services - TurboTenantTurboTenant offers both a tenant screening report and some tools to help landlords promote their properties. Unlike many tenant screening services, it charges the applicant for the cost of the background checks rather than the landlord.

I like that it’s much closer to an all-in-one landlord platform than just a simple screening service. Landlords will love using this service for much more than just checking into their potential tenant’s history.

What does it check for?

TurboTenant has two levels of tenant checks, Basic and Pro. The basic version checks for:

  • SSN verification.
  • Credit bureau score.
  • Employment history.
  • Recent addresses.
  • Payment history and any collection accounts.
  • Fraud indicators.
  • Criminal history.
  • Violent offender and sex offender registry checks.

When you opt for the Pro version, TurboTenant also creates a comprehensive eviction report that checks for:

  • Unlawful detainers.
  • Writs and warrants of eviction.
  • History of failing to pay rent.
  • Any judgments for rent, possession, or money.

Additional landlord tools

As mentioned above, TurboTenant goes beyond running tenant credit and background checks for renters. You can create an appealing-looking property profile on the TurboTenant platform, which will be posted on dozens of rental sites, like CraigsList, ApartmentList, and Rent.com.

TurboTenant’s platform includes a built-in online tenant application form to make things easier and more streamlined.

Price

It’s free to create a listing on TurboTenant and use the platform to advertise your property and accept applications. The $35 fee for a basic check or $45 cost of a pro check is paid by the applicant, although you can choose to pay it yourself if you prefer.

E-renter

Best Tenant Screening Services - E-renterE-renter is a good choice for landlords who want a reliable, yet low-cost, tenant screening report. There are three plans, and the basic one is very competitively-priced, but it still offers the most important information about a tenant. However, a downside is that even the top-tier plan doesn’t investigate the applicant’s income history or employment history.

What does it check for?

E-renter’s basic plan simply verifies the applicant’s identity and runs a background check for evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens, criminal records, and sex offender status.

The mid-level Premium plan adds a credit check, and when you choose the Ultimate package, you’ll also get a history of all known names and recent addresses associated with the applicant.

Plus, the Rent check Advisor option, which alerts you if the applicant’s bank account is in minus, can recommend whether or not to accept this tenant. All of E-renter’s checks are FCRA compliant.

Additional landlord tools

E-renter only offers background checks and tenant screening services. Unfortunately, you won’t find any tools to help with attracting applicants.

Price

The Basic plan costs $19.95, while the Premium plan is $29.95, and the Ultimate plan works out to $34.95. When you order the Premium or Ultimate plans, there’s also a $1.99 fee for running the credit check, which is charged to the applicant rather than the landlord.

MyRental

Best Tenant Screening Services - MyRentalRun by CoreLogic, MyRental offers a whole range of tenant screening checks. You can decide between two different packages, or you can pick and choose the exact tenant screening report that you want and pay for that alone. MyRental also offers the option of having your applicant pay for the Premium plan check.

I like that MyRental lets you choose only the reports you need instead of tying you into a package.

What does it check for?

With MyRental, you can choose between these individual reports:

  • Credit report.
  • Eviction history.
  • Multi-state, country, or statewide criminal checks.

The Basic package informs you about:

  • Eviction history.
  • Recent known addresses.
  • Any history of terrorist activity.
  • Multi-state criminal and sex offender registry status.

It’s important to keep in mind that this package doesn’t include a credit check.

When you upgrade to the Premium plan, you’ll also get:

  • A credit report.
  • The applicant’s history of acceptance as a tenant.
  • The MyRental SafeRent score.

The Premium plan takes everything a step further by creating a SafeRent score, which sums up how reliable this tenant is. Then it invites you to compare their level of trustworthiness with the average score of other applicants in your area, helping you to make an informed decision.

Additional landlord tools

MyRental is all about the tenant credit and background check for renters, and not about helping landlords market their properties.

Price

The Basic package is $24.99, and the Premium package costs $34.99, but you can have MyRental bill the applicant directly for the premium plan. Individual reports range from $7.99 for an eviction history report to $19.99 for a multi-state criminal report.

National Tenant Network

Best Tenant Screening Services - National Tenant RentalThe National Tenant Network, or NTN, works as a subscriber service that produces a large number of different reports to give you insights into the reliability of each applicant. It’s impressively thorough; you can check employment history, eviction history, have trained agents to make calls to follow-up on references, and more.

What does it check for?

With NTN, you can pick and choose different reports, or get access to a comprehensive DecisionPoint report that combines all of your potential concerns into one report. NTN’s screening includes:

  • Eviction and lease violation history.
  • SSN verification.
  • Checks for previous terrorist activity.
  • Previous landlord identification.
  • Credit reports.
  • Skip tracing.
  • Fraud detection.
  • County, statewide, or multi-state criminal reports.
  • Sex offender registry search.
  • Employment history.

Additional landlord tools

NTN goes a long way beyond simply offering credit check services for landlords. It also has a large range of tools to help landlords manage their properties online.

These include a secure payment platform that streamlines rent collection, helps creating a profile for your property, and promoting it widely, online application forms, and built-in templates for leases. 

Price

The only frustrating thing about NTN is that it doesn’t display prices online. You’ll have to contact a local office to find out the price for subscribing to the service in general, and the cost of each individual report.

SmartMove by TransUnion

Best Tenant Screening Services - SmartMovePowered by the TransUnion credit bureau, SmartMove offers detailed credit check services for landlords that help reassure you before signing on the lease. 

I like that SmartMove puts in an extra effort to check out the applicant’s income history and reliability.

What does it check for?

Depending on which plan you choose, SmartMove will:

  • Create a comprehensive Resident Score that reveals how reliable the tenant is, considering their credit history and other background checks.
  • Run a national criminal background report, including sex offender registry check.
  • Create a full credit report.
  • Check eviction history.
  • Check the applicant’s income history.

SmartMove investigates an applicant’s financial situation much more thoroughly than the average tenant screening service. It explores their income history, produces an income-to-rent ratio report, and turns it all into a personalized recommendation about whether or not to accept this applicant. 

Additional landlord tools

SmartMove only provides tenant screening services; there are no additional landlord tools.

Price

SmartMove’s packages begin at $25 for the Basic package, $38 for the Plus plan, and $40 for the Premium option. You can choose to pass the cost on to the applicant or pay it yourself. 

LeaseRunner

Best Tenant Screening Services - LeaseRunnerLeaseRunner is one of the few tenant screening services that offers a la carte reports instead of comprehensive tenant credit and background check for renters packages. You can pick and mix the specific reports you need every time. 

What does it check for?

LeaseRunner offers four different reports. The Tenant Background Check:

  • Verifies the applicant’s identity.
  • Checks multi-state criminal and court records, prison inmate records, and watch lists.
  • Checks the sex offender registry.
  • Looks for a history of involvement in terrorist activity.

The Eviction Check carries out a thorough search for any history of eviction or defaulting on rental payments.

The Financial Report is a detailed report that goes beyond a simple credit check to look at the applicant’s account balance across numerous accounts and types of accounts, and verify the names they use for every bank.

The Credit Report provides a full credit check, along with:

  • Employment history.
  • Bankruptcies.
  • Payment history.
  • Alternate names.
  • Recent known addresses.
  • Any history of fraud.
  • Liens and judgments.
  • Public records check.

Additional landlord tools

LeaseRunner also has free tools to help landlords promote their properties on platforms like Twitter, Craigslist, and Facebook, and an online tenant application form to help streamline the process of finding new tenants.

You can also use their paid tools to simplify rent collection and create, send, and sign a digital lease agreement.

Price

  • Credit report —  $20.
  • Criminal report —  $15.
  • Financial report —  $10.
  • Eviction report —  $12.
  • Digital lease —  $33.
  • Rent collection —  $4.

Apart from the cost of the digital lease, you can choose to pass any of these costs on to your tenants, or pay them yourself.

Summary of the best tenant screening services

 

Tenant screening serviceTypes of reportsLandlord toolsPrice for the basic plan
RentPrepCriminal background, eviction history, credit checkNo$18.95
TurboTenantCredit check, employment history, criminal background, eviction historyYes$35
E-renterEviction history, criminal background, credit check on in the premium plansNo$19.95
MyRentalCredit check, eviction history, criminal backgroundNo$24.99
National Tenant NetworkEviction history, criminal background, credit check, financial historyYesNo prices displayed online
SmartMove by TransUnionCredit check, criminal background, eviction history, income historyNo$25
LeaserunnerCriminal background, income history, employment history, credit check, eviction history, in-depth financial checksYesIndividual reports begin at $10

How I came up with this list

You’re probably wondering how I managed to narrow the list of dozens of tenant screening reports and credit check services for landlords down to just seven. I looked for reliable tenant screening services with positive reviews and a reputable brand name. 

When choosing which tenant screening services are the best, I took into account issues that landlords care about, like how deeply each service investigates prospective tenants, whether it offers additional tools to help landlords find applicants and the pricing of each report.

Why you should use tenant screening services

Every landlord should use some kind of tenant screening report before deciding whether or not to sign a lease with a prospective tenant

If you don’t do your due diligence by checking out an applicant before signing, you leave yourself wide open to risk. I’m talking about the risk of losing money on tenants that don’t pay, having to shell out for eviction services, paying to fix damages done by irresponsible renters, and possibly even risking criminal proceedings if your tenants use your property for illegal purposes. 

It’s too dangerous to take on new tenants without a tenant credit and background check.

What to look for in the best tenant screening service?

The best tenant screening services for you depends on what you need. If you run many properties, you’ll want a service that offers a discount for high volume searches. Many landlords also appreciate help with promoting and marketing their property, especially if it’s a side gig to bring in some extra income. As well as basic credit check services for landlords, you should look for:

  • A service that checks the sex offender registry, criminal registry, and for any history of involvement in terrorist activity.
  • Some information on the applicant’s eviction history.
  • Whether the applicant uses any other names or aliases.
  • The applicant’s recent known addresses, because someone who moves frequently may not be the most reliable tenant.

It’s also best to follow up on any references that you’ve received. Since many landlords don’t have time for this, services that use human agents to call up references can be really useful.  

Summary

Background checks for renters are the most important way landlords can protect themselves from bad tenants. These are our favorite tenant screening services, but you should also do your own research according to your biggest concerns about new tenants, how much assistance you need, and your own experience as a landlord.

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About the author

Sarah Pritzker
Total Articles: 13
Sarah Pritzker is a professional writer who specializes in financial markets and trends in the U.S. She grew up in Virginia, went to university in Boston, lived in New York City, and circumnavigated the globe with stops in San Francisco, Hong Kong, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Kenya, Uganda, Israel, and then back to the States. As a mom of 3, she's always looking for ways to save money - and is happy to share her finance research with the world. Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn

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