If you are new to the landlord game, you may not be aware of certain services that can make your life as a property manager or landlord much easier and more efficient. Finding a suitable tenant for your property is a huge responsibility, so make sure you have all the tools available at your disposal. Products such as robust accounting programs, online application services, and maintenance request databases should be used to streamline your tasks, but the most important product of all is going to be a tenant screening service.
Aside from the cost of marketing your available properties, the cost of performing tenant screenings for each potential renter will be money well spent. Of course, you can do it yourself by using search engines and pulling simple credit reports, but how much is your time really worth if you are managing a property (or properties) full-time? A better strategy would be to hire a professional company to perform the tenant screenings, especially since the cost of performing multiple ones is minimal. Services such as Landlord Station are a one-stop shop when it comes to screening services so you can pay as much or as little as you are comfortable with depending on what information you are seeking about your potential tenants. The cost can range from $15 to $75, although a $15 background check will be very thin and most likely not FCRA (Fair Credit Report Act) compliant. You want a screening that is robust enough to check credit, criminal/eviction report, and income verification at the very least.
If you are just beginning your journey as a landlord, be aware that part of your job will be prescreening the applicants before you get to the official screening process. Your prescreening should be a combination of sharing the rent rates, asking for certain credit score requirements, telling potential renters of any income requirements, making known your building’s pet policies and deposits, and detailing your smoking policies. You can also let the applicants know that you will be charging an application fee to cover the tenant screening...this will weed out anyone who may be “just looking” and isn’t really serious about renting from you. Just remember that all of your policies need to be in writing and apply to all applicants across the board so that there is no discrimination in your decision making or application process.
On the lower end of pricing for tenant screening ($15-30), you will get a basic credit report. If you want a more robust tenant screening that includes a credit report and everything else you are legally entitled to (ranging from $30-75), you will pay a higher price but will receive all of the following information:
- Criminal record check
- Bankruptcy report
- Foreclosures check
- Medical collections
- Employment record
- Aliases report
- Past address history
- Eviction records
Companies such as Landlord Station make it fast, easy, and affordable to perform proper tenant screenings on every viable applicant you have. Knowing as much as you can about a potential tenant will help you make the best decision possible, so ultimately the cost of a tenant screening service will be minimal because it lends you peace of mind in your final decision.
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