The Best Tenant Screening Services for 2022

Updated: April 08,2022

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Renting out a home or apartment might sound easy, but it can be quite the nightmare. You’re entrusting a major asset to a stranger, after all, and you never know what kind of people your new tenants are, whether they have a criminal history, or if they can even afford the rent. Before, you would have had to moonlight as a private eye, investigating prospective tenants to make a better choice.

Now, however, someone can help with that: We’ve scoured the internet and discovered the best tenant screening services. These companies investigate applicants, verify the information on their applications, and help you select those likeliest to be trustworthy tenants.

RentPrep Logo
5

Excellent

1. RentPrep

Starts at:
$18.95

At A Glance
Live screening
Enterprise solution
Podcasts and helpful articles

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RentPrep is one of the most trusted tools for conducting tenant checks. Its site is incredibly easy to use, and, most importantly, the company employs FCRA-certified agents and works with the National Association of Independent Landlords and other similar associations. Best of all, it’s inexpensive, with the standard price point sitting below $20 per check. This way, it can provide its top-rated tenant screening services without customers worrying about breaking their bank. Of course, there are more advanced checks and add-ons RentPrep offers, but they’re all reasonably priced.

Features
Basic checks
SSN verification, address history, national eviction data, bankruptcies, judgments, liens
Credit score tracking
As an add-on
FCRA-certified
Yes
Starts at:
$24.99

At A Glance
Custom plans
Detailed assessment tools
Terrorist alerts

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MyRental is an excellent choice for landlords that like to get in-depth reports backed up by statistics. From quick residence history checks, to full reports that go into a lot of detail and even compare individual tenant data to national averages, this is the best background check service for a wealth of information. And the payment is flexible, too, which is one of MyRental’s strongest features. Customers can choose from several pre-made plans and upgrades, but they can also create their own reports and pay accordingly.

Features
Basic checks
Eviction history, previous address history, criminal and sex offender checks, terrorist alerts
Credit score tracking
Premium plan
FCRA-certified
Yes
Starts at:
$25

At A Glance
Resident score
Advisory service
Instant reporting

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SmartMove is TransUnion’s screening service. The main draw for millions of customers has been the detailed reporting this company provides and its unique scoring system based on 500,000+ records. Whether you need a credit check for landlords, or just a simple background check on your prospective tenants, it’s all available. The SmartMove credit score assessment is included in all plans and will help you decide whether to accept a tenant’s application. This service is a bit more advanced, but it’s unmatched when it comes to depth of reporting.

Features
Basic checks
Criminal background check, full credit report
Credit score tracking
As an add-on
FCRA-certified
Yes
Starts at:
$45

At A Glance
Free pre-screening
Free listings for landlords
Nationwide criminal reports

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TurboTenant might be the youngest company on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable, as you’ll see later in our reviews of tenant screening services. For the most part, you’ll be able to use this service completely free of charge. That’s already going above and beyond its competition, but upgrading to premium plans will unlock even more features. Landlords can even check if their future tenants have any outstanding payments for previous apartments. Their detailed reports offer great insight into whether a person will make a good tenant.

Features
Basic checks
Credit report, criminal record report, SSN verification, employment history, civil records, fraud indicators
Credit score tracking
Yes
FCRA-certified
Yes
Starts at:
$24.95

At A Glance
LeaseGuarantee
TeleCheck
National search

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Landlords looking for tenant verification services should not skip TenantAlert. This service is known for its easy-to-use software and pricing that suit everyone. You can choose from four plans, starting at just under $25, with the ultimate plan granting you access to the biggest national database. The company trusts its analytics tools so much that it even provides reimbursement for when you’re not satisfied with the tenant recommended to you. Not many companies would provide such good customer service.

Features
Basic checks
Credit report with a credit check, previous address history, TeleCheck verification
Credit score tracking
Yes
FCRA-certified
Yes
Best All-around Service

1. RentPrep

Starts at: $18.95
Basic checks
SSN verification, address history, national eviction data, bankruptcies, judgments, liens
Credit score tracking
As an add-on
FCRA-certified
Yes
Tenant payment option
Yes
Reporting source
TransUnion
Support
Phone, email, fax
What we liked
  • Very affordable
  • Real-time screening
  • FCRA-certified agents
What we disliked
  • No live chat support

Founded by Fidelis Screening Solutions, RentPrep is the favorite of many landlords across the country. With highly competitive pricing, lots of great features, and a strong emphasis on building community, it’s easy to understand why.

RentPrep makes running background checks incredibly easy, requiring zero involvement from the prospective tenant. The company employs FCRA-certified agents, and it’s associated with the National Apartment Association and other well-known housing organizations.

Among the five best tenant screening services we identified in our industrywide research, RentPrep stands out for its agreeable pricing model and feature-rich plans.

The basic plan costs $18.95 per applicant. It consists of Social Security number verification, an address history, national eviction data verification, and checks for bankruptcies, judgments, and liens. For an additional $4, the company runs a nationwide criminal and sex offender search. A credit decision report costs an additional $9.95, while $10 gets you an income verification report.

A more thorough report is available with the SmartMove full credit report, which costs $38. Interestingly, this report doesn’t include checks for judgments and liens. That report will cost you another $4.95. That said, the cost of tenant screening services from RentPrep is still the best we’ve come across, making this service the most affordable. Landlords managing 50 or more properties can even get a big discount through an enterprise package that allows for mass screening and includes the services of a dedicated agent.

RentPrep gathers financial information from TransUnion. All FCRA-sensitive data is manually verified by FCRA-certified agents.

Contact options for customer service agents include phone, email, and fax. But the real strength of this landlord background check company’s customer support is found in the Resources page on its website, which is packed with articles and FAQs - a truly comprehensive knowledge base that leaves no stone unturned.

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Best Service With Flexible Plans

2. MyRental

Starts at: $24.99
Basic checks
Eviction history, previous address history, criminal and sex offender checks, terrorist alerts
Credit score tracking
Premium plan
FCRA-certified
Yes
Tenant payment option
Yes (Premium plan)
Reporting source
TransUnion
Support
Phone, email, live chat
What we liked
  • Easy to use
  • Customizable
  • Live chat available
What we disliked
  • No SSN verification

MyRental is a top tenant screening service built on the powerful CoreLogic knowledge base of properties, taxes, ownership, and occupancy. Security and up-to-date data are the benefits you get at MyRental, which features high quality-control standards and a unique pricing model that suits every need.

The $24.99 Basic plan consists of an eviction history, previous address history, criminal and sex offender checks, and even a terrorist alert check. A more detailed report that includes financial data costs $10 more. With the Premium plan, you get a report on the prospective tenant’s credit score, an option for the tenant to pay the screening fee, and the option to compare the applicant’s score with state averages. The more expensive of MyRental’s tenant screening service plans is great for risk assessment, as the report shows how many landlords accepted applicants with a similar score in your part of the country.

If none of these plans seem right, you can choose to specify exactly which checks you’d like MyRental to perform. For example, if all you want is a rent history check, that’ll set you back $7.99. The options here are no match for the premium plan, but they’ll help you save money in the long run.

Like other services, MyRental bases its screening reports on TransUnion data. The scores the platform assigns to each applicant aren’t credit scores, however. Instead, the renter background check assigns a score that conveys how trustworthy the potential renter is. As you may have guessed, the higher the score, the better.

MyRental customer support is available via email, live chat, and phone Monday through Saturday. While the site doesn’t host a community section with blogs and podcasts, there are more than enough resources for landlords to learn from.

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Best Service for Detailed Reports

3. SmartMove

Starts at: $25
Basic checks
Criminal background check, full credit report
Credit score tracking
As an add-on
FCRA-certified
Yes
Tenant payment option
Yes
Reporting source
TransUnion
Support
Webform
What we liked
  • Very thorough
  • Fast report generation
  • No hidden fees
What we disliked
  • Weak customer support options

Launched in 2010, SmartMove is TransUnion's service for tenant screening. Millions of people consider TransUnion the best tenant screening company because of its complex and sophisticated service. It offers detailed reports that provide a lot more information and deeper understanding of the tenant’s financial situation. That’s why 

Like MyRental, SmartMove generates numeric scores for each applicant. The SmartMove score is based on an analysis of more than 500,000 records. Alongside the ResidentScore, you will also get a recommendation on whether to accept the tenant’s application, which can really speed up the screening process.

SmartMove prices start at $25. The basic screening report includes the ResidentScore and the multi-state criminal background check. Need more than that? Choose SmartCheck Basic Plus for $38, and you’ll also get a detailed report that includes national eviction data and a full credit report.

The third and final tenant screening service plan from TransUnion is SmartCheck Premium. This one costs $40 and works more as an advisory service. It includes the same data as the other plans, but also allows you to query whether the prospective tenant's credit behavior is valid, and get advice on whether or not to ask for more proof. Since this information is really just a report on how well the applicant sticks to a budget and whether they’re a smart spender, we say the additional cost is optional.

The source of all this data is TransUnion itself. Note that the credit report requires authorization from the applicant you’re checking, but the landlord credit check is a “soft” inquiry that doesn’t affect their credit score.

Everything above 560 is a good score, and the reports are generated almost instantly. If you need help using the system, you’ll, unfortunately, have to use a web form or the SmartMove FAQ pages.

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Best Up-and-coming Service

4. TurboTenant

Starts at: $45
Basic checks
Credit report, criminal record report, SSN verification, employment history, civil records, fraud indicators
Credit score tracking
Yes
FCRA-certified
Yes
Tenant payment option
Yes
Reporting source
TransUnion
Support
Live chat, email
What we liked
  • Great for browsing listings
  • In-depth reports
  • SSN verification in basic plan
What we disliked
  • Expensive

TurboTenant has been in business for just five years, but this company has grown into one of the premier spots to get tenant insights. In addition to its best-rated tenant screening service, it allows landlords to post their listings online completely free of charge.

In fact, many services are completely free of charge at TurboTenant. In addition to rental applications that you can post online, you can even create brochures for your properties and get them passed along to popular real estate websites. Tenants can fill out pre-screening questionnaires that help the application process go more smoothly.

TurboTenant’s $35 basic plan is a bit costly, but it includes several reports. Credit reports consist of the renter’s credit score, Social Security number verification, employment history, civil records, payment history, fraud indicators, and more. The basic tenant screening services pricing includes an equally thorough criminal record check that covers both state and national databases.

If you choose the $45 TurboReport Pro plan, the screening will include residence history and eviction records, plus reports on failed rent payments, writs, and unlawful detainer offenses. There is no option for verifying current employment and income, but the reports are very detailed and provide valuable information. The data is pulled from databases maintained by TransUnion.

A quick Google search reveals that TurboTenant has received criticism for skimping on customer support. At the time of writing these tenant screening services reviews, the site has been updated. It now offers support via email and live chat, along with an in-depth help center that acts like an extensive knowledge base.

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Best Service for Credit Reports

5. TenantAlert

Starts at: $24.95
Basic checks
Credit report with a credit check, previous address history, TeleCheck verification
Credit score tracking
Yes
FCRA-certified
Yes
Tenant payment option
Yes
Reporting source
TransUnion, Experian, Equifax
Support
Phone, live chat, email
What we liked
  • Easy to use
  • Fast reporting
  • Multiple sources
What we disliked
  • Some basic features available only with the most expensive plans

If you want to conduct a tenant credit and background check, it’s always great to have many options. The folks at Application Research, the company behind TenantAlerts, seem to appreciate options. They’ve created a service with not two, not three, but four plans to suit the needs of a wide variety of landlords.

Even with so many options, you’ll never feel overwhelmed, as accessibility and ease of use are two of the most notable features of this service. The company has decades of experience, and it has developed one of the best tenant screening services you can sign up for today.

Let’s start with the Basic plan. It’s a $24.95 plan that includes a credit report with a credit check, previous address history, and TeleCheck verification through a real-time database. For $5 more, you’ll get statewide eviction history and a LeaseGuarantee analysis to determine whether your tenant is eligible for a lease. If TenantAlert recommends that you offer a lease to a tenant whose occupancy ends poorly, the company will reimburse you for up to $10,000 in damages, lost rent, or legal fees.

The most popular plan at this online tenant screening service costs $39.95. It checks a few more boxes: A statewide criminal record check, terrorist alert, and a federal search for various offenses.

The $49.95 Premier plan bumps the eviction and criminal checks to a nationwide scale. It also includes Social Security number verification - something that we’ve seen offered even in basic plans from some other companies.

Whichever plan you choose, you have an option for the tenant to pay the fee.

One feature that puts this service above most of the best tenant screening companies is the choice of the credit bureau to run the credit check. All the other services we reviewed stick with TransUnion. At TenantAlert, you can also pick Equifax or Experian.

As for TenantAlert’s customer service, we judge it to be first-rate. You can contact the friendly, knowledgeable, helpful support representatives via phone, live chat, and email. They’re available on weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PST).

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Identifying the Best Background Check for Potential Tenants

We’re living in a world in which the need for security permeates every aspect of our life. Whether it’s software for monitoring kids, insurance, virtual phone numbers, or home security systems, the market caters to each type of need. Tenant screening companies offer an incredible array of reports and options. Evaluating them requires an objective apples-to-apples comparison. We started our evaluations by identifying the information and services landlords need.

Criminal Background Check

First and foremost, you’ve got to know how trustworthy applicants are, and we’re unfortunately still not at the stage where AI's can recognize faces reliably is widespread. Many landlords prefer to know whether prospective tenants have criminal records and how severe their crimes were. It’s one thing to have a couple unpaid parking tickets. It’s a whole lot worse if you discover an applicant has been involved in a violent crime.

In the past, the criminal portion of a tenant background check could take weeks as landlords consulted criminal records at the city, county, state, and national levels. The ordeal could require expensive, time-consuming, in-person visits to public record offices.

That drastically changed once services that offer tenant screening became widely available. All that hassle and running around has been replaced by easy-to-use websites that will run comprehensive criminal background checks for you.

Although documenting a prospective tenant’s criminal record is now the norm, tenant screening services don’t always deliver the same information. Some background check services consult government databases at all levels, while others report only state or nationwide criminal records.

Tenant screening reports are subject to regulation under the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970, which specifies that specific consumer data can be reported only by certified reporting agencies. The best agencies are FCRA-compliant.

Credit and Employment

Once you’re sure your prospective tenants have steered clear of legal troubles, you’ll want to know whether they are likely to make rent payments on time. You’ll want to verify their employment and earnings; a credit history is helpful too. If the applicant has a terrible credit score, that could indicate that they’ll have trouble paying rent.

The top tenant screening services provide a credit score and an overview of the applicant’s employment history. We check to see how detailed these tenant reports are and whether such services require an extra charge. In too many cases, it’s part of a premium package.

Residence and Eviction History 

A standard background check includes a residence and eviction history that tells you whether your applicant has been a good tenant in the past. A history of changing addresses frequently is a red flag. A history of legal evictions is 10 red flags. In the bad old days, you counted on applicants to give you the names and phone numbers of former landlords. Of course, they excluded information about tenancies that ended on bad terms.

The rental background check results in a report detailing the applicant’s history of late rent payments, residency lengths, and whether or not the potential tenant has received eviction notices from former landlords. Naturally, the more detailed it is, the better.

Price

Tenant background checks don’t look expensive, but if you have lots of applications for the same property, they add up fast. That’s why we consider price a key criterion. Some sell screening services a la carte, while others offer screening as part of a larger property management package.

From free tenant screening to the most expensive premium options, we evaluate each plan and its features. The goal is to find the best value, a balance between features and affordability. We also check for free trials and discounts on rental screening.

Additional Features and Efficiency

Those previous criteria give us a pretty clear idea of which companies offer the best tenant screening value - but we don’t stop there. The next piece of the puzzle is an assessment of each service’s efficiency and thoroughness.

For example, this is where we look at the depth and flexibility of reporting options. And we evaluate how long it takes for tenant screening search results to arrive. It doesn’t matter how good the screening service’s data is if it doesn’t arrive until after your applicant has already moved into someone else’s property.

Some of these services go above and beyond the usual, giving landlords much more than a simple report or two. You may get customizable letters to send to prospective tenants, or peace of mind by verifying the applicant’s Social Security number. Unusual and unique features help distinguish services from one another, and we take care to point them out.

Customer Support

Finally, the best tenant screening services for landlords can’t really be the best unless it provides great customer support. Not everyone knows how the screening process works, so you might need to contact customer service agents with questions. You might have billing problems or questions about a report. Maybe you’re having trouble connecting to the service’s website, and you need information from the technical team.

Our evaluation takes into account the availability of customer support agents, the depth of their knowledge, and their attitude. If the service has other useful tools, like something to estimate the tenant screening service price or an informative FAQ page, we will point that out too.

FAQ

What Do Landlords Use for Background Checks?

Most landlords go through rental history reports to discover how good a tenant the applicant has been in the past. Since we live in the internet age, landlords can use online services that pull information from credit bureaus and provide detailed reports on the prospective tenant's likelihood of taking care of the property and keeping up with rent payments.

How Do I Get a Tenant Screening Report?

Just visit the screening company’s website and type in some information about the tenant. You’ll be asked to provide their name and email address, and perhaps a phone number. The company will process the request, pull data from the credit bureau and federal databases, and provide a detailed report. With that document, you should be able to determine whether to extend a lease to your prospective tenant or not.

What Does Tenant Screening Mean?

Tenant screening is the process property owners and landlords use to evaluate prospective tenants. It’s a background check for renters, a compilation of different kinds of information that helps the landlord predict whether the applicant is trustworthy and financially able to pay rent. There is no uniform screening process: Different landlords look for different information when evaluating potential tenants.

Can I Run a Tenant Screening on Myself?

Sure. If you’re looking to rent property, you can visit a tenant screening service, request an evaluation of yourself as a prospective renter, and get reports that you can share with landlords when you apply to rent a property. This saves the landlord both time and money. The best tenant screening services even generate private links for you to share with landlords, thus keeping your information secure online.

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