Property Managers : Should You Use an Online Screening Service?
Screening potential residents is essential for a property manager’s liability & overall property safety, and online screening services can make the process more efficient. Learn how using a service benefits you & how to choose one best for your needs.
Just as Kings III provides elevator and pool phone monitoring to reduce your risks, an online tenant screening service can help protect your property’s safety as well as your overall property management liability from the very start, before the tenant signs the lease.
With the average cost of a formal eviction exceeding $5,000, it’s more important than ever to quickly familiarize yourself with the person who wants to live or work on your property. The best way to do this is with extensive, accurate tenant screening. The small cost of this formality could save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Because of your super-busy schedule, you may not have the time to track down these reports individually. That’s where an online screening service can make the process seamless, saving you time and increasing your chances of finding good tenants. With the right screening service, the information you need should be accurate and found within minutes.
Nothing personal; it’s a numbers game: a reliable online screening service uses data and analytics to predict the likelihood of a lease ending badly. It’s simple science.
Your tenant screening should always include the following:
- Credit report
- Eviction report
- Criminal background check
An online screening service should provide:
- Little or no paperwork. An applicant’s email should be enough to start the ball rolling, and you should be able to receive the results within minutes.
- Detailed, extensive criminal reports. For some property managers, knowing a criminal history is even more important than a credit history. After all, your property’s safety should be one of your very top priorities. Your screening service should be searching criminal records — including sex offender records — from both local and national databases in addition to eviction and credit history databases.
- Compliance. The screening service you choose should be regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and be compliant with all federal and state laws regarding screening. These companies should be titled as specialized consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), meaning they must reveal the end user (namely you) and the reason for the screening. This goes both ways: as a property manager, be sure you know and are compliant with all federal and state regulations.
- Ease of use. Your online screening should be so easy that you can complete the application right on your phone. There should be no fancy setups or website visits. You should also be able to manage multiple properties from one account. The report itself should be easy to read. If it isn’t efficient, it isn’t worth it.
- Fees only for what you need. Many online screening services offer a number of options, from social security number validation to legal judgments. You should be able to pay only for the services you need, without a monthly or annual fee.
- Customer service and tech support. This is not always a given. Make sure you find a service that provides 24/7 assistance if you need it.
- An easy decision for you. The final results of your tenant screening should make your decision quick and decisive. No agonizing debates, gray areas, or complications.
An online screening service usually won’t provide:
- Reference checks. You should take it upon yourself to request personal and employment references, and recent pay stubs to prove employment.
You’ll also want to be sensitive to discrimination, even if — especially if — it’s unintentional. Determine your criteria for a good prospective tenant by listing what you regard as a good credit and rental history, and what qualifications all tenants should meet (this list should never include race, sex, or religion). With this list, you can treat each applicant equally. Check and double check any anti-discrimination legislation, and abide by it.
An online screening service can not only help you prevent financial risk, it helps prevent dangerous environments for your tenants and assists in making your property an overall safer place. For more information on how Kings III can help you with your property’s safety, visit www.kingsiii.com.
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