The 7 Best Tenant Screening Services of 2020

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In a 2018 study, most landlords who tried screening tenants found that over 25% of their applicants had some type of criminal record. That’s something landlords should want to know upfront. 

Whether you’re a hands-on landlord or you hire a property manager, you should know who’s going to live in your rental. Properly screening tenants before they move in can help prevent lost rent from non-payment, property destruction, and costly evictions. Tenant screening services help landlords conduct background checks, credit reports, and verify previous landlord and employment history. 

We evaluated more than a dozen tenant screening services and selected the best based on their reputation, features offered, ease of use, and customer ratings. Here are our top picks to aid in your tenant screening process.

The 7 Best Tenant Screening Services of 2020

Best Overall: RentPrep

RentPrep

RentPrep

Fidelis Screening Solutions has been used by property management companies and large employers to provide background checks since it was founded in 2007. The company created RentPrep to cater to smaller landlords so they wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle of big firms.

RentPrep's team of in-house, Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)-certified screeners performs over 30,000 tenant screenings annually, and the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, made them their official tenant screening provider. The company's outstanding reputation and comprehensive offerings are why we named it best overall.

RentPrep provides criminal background checks; address history; tenant Social Security number verification; nationwide eviction data; and lien, bankruptcy, and judgment information. This data is verified by screeners to ensure accuracy and up-to-date results.

Landlords can generally get their tenant screening results within one hour during normal business hours. RentPrep also has great customer reviews. Customers like their quick turnaround time, and the thing that really makes them stand out is that they use live screeners. 

Like all of our best tenant screening services, RentPrep is easy to use for both tenants and landlords, and you can contact customer support via email or by phone (Monday through Saturday).

RentPrep Pricing

RentPrep offers two different pricing packages that include different types of reports and varying degrees of thoroughness. Their lower-priced package is also the least expensive of our review, at just $18.95.

Background Check

  • Priced at $18.95 per prospective tenant screening report
  • Doesn’t require credit consent from a prospective tenant
  • Compiled and validated by in-house screeners
  • Includes Social Security number and address history
  • Nationwide evictions
  • Bankruptcies, judgments, and liens
  • Shows a credit score range but not an exact score

Full Credit Report

  • $38.00 per screening 
  • Tenant must respond to email for results to be received and tenant can also pay for report directly
  • Compiled and validated by in-house screeners
  • Includes Social Security number and address history
  • Nationwide evictions
  • Bankruptcies
  • Delivers a full credit report

If you want more information but don’t want to spring for the full credit report, you can choose to add on a nationwide criminal and sex offender search for $4 and/or a credit decision report for $9.95. You can add on judgment and lien searches for an additional $4.95.

Runner Up, Best Overall: MyRental

MyRental

MyRental

MyRental is a service of CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions, a company formed in 2010 that has locations throughout the U.S. MyRental was created to serve independent landlords, real estate agents, and property managers. MyRental updates its site 24 hours a day and its databases undergo seven layers of quality control in order to verify its data. 

MyRental provides criminal background checks, address history, multi-state criminal record searches, and terrorist reports, as well as some unique features including a Safe Rent Score and a Landlord Acceptance Rate. These tools can be used by landlords when deciding if a tenant is qualified or not. 

MyRental is easy for landlords and tenants to use and can be accessed at any time, which is convenient if you’re working after normal business hours. Landlords receive screening results, typically within an hour, to their online dashboard. However, live screeners don’t verify reports. Nevertheless, customers have positive things to say about MyRental’s dashboard, quick turnaround time, and efficient customer service. They also like the other metrics they’re given to measure tenant qualifications outside of the usual credit history and eviction checks. The thoroughness of MyRental's screening and its constantly updated data are why we named it our runner-up.

MyRental Pricing

Similar to RentPrep, MyRental offers two pricing packages. However, it also makes services available à la carte, so if you don’t want a package, you can buy each service individually. Purchasing an individual eviction history report costs $7.99 per person and an individual credit report costs $14.99. If you want to do a background check, however, then it’s a better deal to purchase one of the packages.

Basic

  • $24.99 per applicant
  • Doesn’t require credit consent from a prospective tenant
  • Eviction history
  • Previous address history
  • Multi-state criminal and sex offender search
  • Terrorist alert 

Premium

  • $34.99 per applicant
  • Eviction history
  • Previous address history
  • Terrorist alert
  • Multi-state criminal and sex offender search
  • Credit report
  • Renter pay option
  • Safe rent score and compare by location
  • Landlord acceptance rate 

Best Price: Avail

Avail

Avail

Avail was created as a property management software platform specifically for do-it-yourself landlords. The company was founded in 2013 and is a one-stop-shop for landlords because it offers tenant screening services as well as rent collection, property marketing tools, and lease management. Avail has an A+ rating with the BBB but is not accredited.

They specialize in offering a wide array of services to smaller landlords who own up to 10 properties but also offer packages that are appropriate for larger portfolios. The company is used by 150,000 landlords and has tons of educational material on its website about managing rental properties. 

Avail is highly rated by customers who like being able to screen their tenants and manage their properties in one place. Avail is easy to use on all devices and has an app for users to download. Their pricing scale starts at free and offers limited services which include credit and criminal screening. Avail also passes all tenant application fees on to applicants. 

Avail Pricing

Avail has its own method of pricing that bundles together all of its property management services for landlords. Pricing starts for free and goes up to $5 per unit per month, depending on the services you want. Although both plans include credit and criminal background checks, tenants still get charged directly for these services.

Credit, criminal background and eviction checks are $30 each. These can be bundled together for $55. Avail's free property management offering and the fact that it passes screening costs along to tenants are why we named it our best-priced option.

Unlimited Plan

  • Free plan for unlimited units as a special offer
  • Includes credit and criminal checks (tenant pays for them)
  • Syndicated rental listings
  • State-specific leases
  • Online rent payments
  • Maintenance tracking

Unlimited Plus Plan

  • All Unlimited Plan features
  • Next-day rent payments
  • Waived ACH fees
  • Custom applications and leases
  • Marketing websites

Best for Quick Screening: National Tenant Network

National Tenant Network

National Tenant Network

National Tenant Network (NTN) is headquartered in Oregon and has 35 regional offices around the country, with dedicated agents to help landlords screen tenants. The company has been in business for more than 35 years, which makes them the oldest tenant screening company around. NTN has an A+ rating from the BBB but is not accredited. 

NTN is a boutique service that takes a custom approach to each application. The company is ideal if you want to quickly screen an applicant and receive a recommendation to accept the tenant or not because you don’t have to sift through complicated reports. Instead, NTN gives every applicant a score from zero to 100, which makes it very easy to use. This score is usually generated within minutes of submitting the application, which is why we named NTN best for quick screening.

National Tenant Network’s goal is to help landlords identify whether an applicant will be a good tenant. They have positive reviews for customer service and keeping their eviction information up to date. The company offers services to landlords big and small.

National Tenant Network Pricing

National Tenant Network doesn’t offer tiered pricing. Instead, it offers à la carte services so you can choose what you want to know about a tenant and work within your budget.

  • Multi-state criminal background search: $35
  • Tenant performance report which shows lease violations and verifies applicant’s Social Security number: $10 
  • County criminal background search: $25 
  • NTN DecisionPoint is a report gives a rating from zero to 100 and a recommendation to accept or reject the applicant: $22

Best for Additional Features: TurboTenant

TurboTenant

TurboTenant

TurboTenant was developed in 2015 and is used by over 50,000 landlords for property management, marketing, and tenant screening. It’s another all-in-one platform similar to Avail that is good for landlords, real estate agents, and property managers who want the convenience of marketing vacant rental listings and screening potential tenants all on one site. 

TurboTenant caters to landlords with up to 100 properties, but not necessarily those with huge portfolios. It offers the convenient option of having tenants complete a rental application right on the website, pay for the screening, and send the results to the landlord. It also has flyer templates so you can post vacant rental listings quickly across multiple websites. These extra options are why we named TurboTenant best for additional features.

TurboTenant boasts positive customer reviews, especially from customers who appreciate having multiple ways to market their listing on the site and report success finding tenants. It’s a user-friendly site with multiple ways to contact customer service. 

TurboTenant Pricing

TurboTenant is another à la carte tenant screening software. They don’t offer tiers, packages, or monthly pricing options. Instead, it’s free to sign up, free to post and market rental listings, but there are charges for screening tenants. These charges can be passed to the applicant in the form of an application fee. 

  • One credit report and one nationwide criminal background check: $35
  • One credit report, one nationwide criminal background check, and one eviction report: $45  

Best for Screening Directly From a Credit Bureau: SmartMove

SmartMove

SmartMove

SmartMove was founded in 2008 as one of the first web-based tenant screening solutions for smaller landlords who are busy and want to be able to log on and have a decision in minutes. It screens tenants directly through TransUnion, one of the three major credit bureaus. The unique nature of screening directly through a credit bureau is why we chose to highlight the company in our review—it's in a class by itself.

SmartMove is great because it gives landlords the comfort of getting tenant insights directly from a major credit bureau while also making tenants feel secure by not passing their sensitive personal information directly to landlords. Instead, the tenant uses the site themselves, and the landlord receives a SmartMove credit score using the same scoring method that TransUnion uses. Then, like National Tenant Network, SmartMove gives the landlord a recommendation of whether or not to accept the applicant as a tenant. 

SmartMove is easy to use, provides robust security protocols for applicant’s information, and offers online customer support. Customers also like its affiliation with TransUnion. However, landlords aren’t in control and, therefore, can’t get a decision until the tenant completes the application. SmartMove offers tiered pricing starting at $25. 

SmartMove Pricing

SmartMove offers three tiers of service ranging from $25 to $40 per applicant. In addition, each tier includes a SmartMove score, which gives the applicant a score based on over 500,000 records. 

Basic Plan

  • $25 per applicant
  • Includes the SmartMove resident score
  • Nationwide background check

Plus Plan

  • $38 per applicant
  • Includes all of the Basic Plan features 
  • Full credit reporting
  • Landlord and residence checks
  • Nationwide eviction reports

Premium Plan

  • $40 per applicant
  • Includes all of the Basic and Plus Plan features 
  • Income insights which use checkpoints to see if applicant’s income is correctly reported
  • Advises landlord if additional proof of income is needed 

Best for À la Carte Services: LeaseRunner

LeaseRunner

LeaseRunner

LeaseRunner was founded in 2011 and was a finalist for an Inman News Innovator Award the same year. It has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau but is not accredited. Landlords, real estate agents, and property managers in over 2,000 cities across the country use LeaseRunner, which doesn’t offer any packages but offers a plethora of à la carte service options. 

LeaseRunner is ideal for landlords who want to pick and choose individual background reports rather than purchasing a package, and the company’s customers report being happy with its offerings. LeaseRunner’s friendly and informative customer service agents are praised, and the site is easy to use and gives you a thorough understanding of the tenant screening process. 

LeaseRunner Pricing

LeaseRunner doesn’t have packages or tiered plans but offers all of their services individually so you can buy what you need within your budget. Prices of individual reports are as follows:

  • Credit report: $20, provided by Experian
  • Nationwide criminal report: $15 (includes terrorist and sex offender lists)
  • Financial report: $10 (provides bank account balances and income verification)
  • Nationwide eviction report: $12 (includes property damage judgments) 

LeaseRunner also offers property management services including rent collection, digital lease signing, lease templates, and rental applications that range from $0 to $30. The diversity of these options is why we named LeaseRunner the best option for à la carte features.

What Is a Tenant Screening Service?

A tenant screening service is a company that provides background data on a prospective tenant. Depending on the services you choose, this can include eviction history, credit reports, criminal background checks, and more. Screening services are typically used by landlords, real estate agents, and property managers of all sizes.

Tenant screening services help landlords know who will potentially be renting their property. They’re necessary because the more the landlord knows about the tenant’s eviction history, credit score, etc., the more they can predict if they will be a suitable tenant. For example, a tenant with no evictions and a high credit score is less likely to not pay rent in fear of harming their credit score. 

How Do Tenant Screening Services Work?

Reputable screening services follow state and federal guidelines and information privacy acts to provide background information including eviction reports, Social Security number verifications, credit reports, and criminal history reports. This data is gathered, offered to the tenant when necessary, and is then provided in report form to the landlord or property manager. 

How Much Does the Best Tenant Screening Cost?

Tenant screening services can be purchased individually or as bundles. As the landlord, you can choose which screening services are important to you and what your budget will allow. Some of the services are paid monthly and others are paid per report. Still others can be paid directly by the tenant. You can choose the screening service that suits your budget and method of payment. 

You can order an individual eviction report for as little as $7.99. You can choose to have the tenants pay for their own reports—typically about $55 for credit and criminal background reports—or you can choose a package deal for as little as $5 per month per unit. 

Is Tenant Screening Worth the Cost?

Regardless of the size of your rental portfolio, tenant screening services are definitely worth the cost. It’s far better to pay small fees upfront, rather than run the risk of thousands of dollars in eviction costs, unpaid rent, and damaged property. Of course, tenant screening services can’t guarantee that none of these will happen. However, they are less likely to happen if you rent your property to a well-qualified tenant. This is because qualified tenants are less likely to want to risk their credit and eviction history by not paying rent. 

Tenant screening services should generally be used by all landlords and property managers. It doesn’t matter if you own one single-family home or 500 apartments, your goal is to make the highest return on your investment. Tenant screening services help you do just that by reducing the chances of evictions, excessive property damage, and/or months of unpaid rent. 

How We Chose Tenant Screening Services

To find the best tenant screening services, we looked at 15 different companies. We researched them to find out how reputable they are, what their customer reviews reported, their individual pricing structures, ease of use, turnaround times, and what screening services they offer. To finalize our list of the best, we chose the screening services that offer diverse services, quick turnaround times, and positive reviews.

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
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