By Daniel Berlind, CEO of Snappt on Oct 18, 2022

Why Resident Screening Software Isn't the Answer

The quality of your tenants determines the quality of your cash flow, a common saying amongst veterans in the apartment real estate space. By investing money, time, and effort upfront into finding the right ones, you’ll save much more on those aspects over the long haul. Being able to trust the results of a tenant background check can be the thing that stands between you and bankruptcy- an outcome more common than you might think.

Here are tips for screening tenants, why resident screening software isn’t the answer, and what you should do instead.

What’s the goal of tenant screening?

All property owners want those good tenants, exceptional tenants with excellent communication skills, superb cooperation, a dependable employment history, and impeccable rental history. But to get them, screening for rotten apples is needed, and that’s the goal of tenant background reports: to verify the applicant’s identity, their ability to perform their financial-contractual obligations — and to care for the property.

What’s typically included in tenant screening reports?

First, remember that it’s the tenant's responsibility to conduct and submit the credit report. However, using software or service to authenticate is preferable. However, make sure the applicant signs the application form and allows you to conduct screening.

Second, know you can use cheaper websites when screening renters, but know they’ll be less holistic and less accurate. 

Finally, the following are some things that typical tenant screening software will look for: 

  • Eviction records
  • Criminal records
  • Sex offender registry 
  • Employment verifications
  • Consumer credit report (usually from the big three credit bureaus: Transunion/Equifax/Experian).

All important information to know... but simplistic to a fault.

Tenants screening done right

With the basics covered, another missed point is that the tenant screening process starts with your branding, messaging, and advertisement. Things that’ll attract the right tenants (and filter the wrong ones) are flyers, social media ads; where you advertise the vacancies; and how you question the applicants. The quality of the answers you’ll get depends on the quality of the questions you’ll ask. Safe to say—no software will do all this for you. A better move would be to trust a professional tenant screening company with employees- Real people who know the ins and outs of prospective tenant fraud- who can catch things a computerized software might miss.

Optimizing tenant selection

Smart landlords and property managers don’t just look at stats and numbers. A credit score is a good piece of the puzzle to have, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. They conduct interviews in person (or virtually if you must) to get a feel of the applicant’s tonality and body language. The more inquisitive the applicant is about the unit, the better.

Quality tenants often ask thoroughly about the environment—not just the property, like who the neighbors are, what they do, where the landlord lives (accessibility), and what the neighborhood is like. Another good tell is if they are suspicious of you and ask you a ton of blunt questions. It typically means they’re good people who got burned before and are cautious—just like you are.

The software won’t help you with trusting and verifying using human nuance. It also won’t set up validity traps. For example, when calling past landlords at previous addresses or work colleagues, you might want to ask for the wrong information on the purpose and see if they correct you.

Discrimination warning

You’d like to avoid fines, court appearances, ruined brand reputation, and breaking the law, so we advise you to read your state’s/county’s landlord and tenancy act because every tenant applicant you disqualify could turn to the courts and use the Federal Fair Housing Act claiming discrimination.

Worse: even if your process is fair and legitimate — if it’s not documented publicly — potential tenants can claim otherwise. And social media, unlike courts, doesn't deal with facts, only with stories and how viral they are—and your branding (and leads) will suffer because of it.

SNAPPT: Combining human expertise and software to create the best tenant screening services around

To recap, while software can help with certain things, it’s not a silver bullet. You’d be wise to understand the basics of screening solutions, do them right, optimize them for the best results. And the best way to do that is to authenticate all the documents you get. Snappt wants to come alongside you and navigate vetting rental applications together. With phenomenal pricing and ready-to-assist experts on our team, Snappt guarantees your background search will go off without a hitch.

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