Choosing a Tenant Screening Agency

Choosing a tenant screening agency image

Choosing a Tenant Screening Agency

Some Homeowner Associations (HOA) may manage the entire tenant background check process in house.  This practice may not be cost effective or deliver the best results. Choosing a tenant screening agency can save time and lend expertise to the decision making.

Criminal and Sex Offender Record Searches

The tenant screening agency will order a nationwide criminal search and sex offender check.  Large background check companies sell these database searches but may not offer the personal attention and verification that you will find from a smaller full service tenant screening agency.  A smaller, full service tenant screening agency will verify the name, aliases, address and social security number of the applicant.  This information comprises identity verification which is central to a complete background check.  Once the information is verified it can then be compared to the tenant application in order to confirm the accuracy of what was provided.  It is important to make every effort to eliminate inaccuracies and comply with The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA was established in 1970 to protect the rights of consumers and ensure the accuracy of background checks.  Verification helps ensure compliance with the provisions of the FCRA.

County Criminal Record Searches

If a record or hit shows up on the criminal background check, many full service tenant screening agencies will then order a county courthouse search.  The county courthouse search is a manual search at the county where the conviction was filed.  This search provides the most up to date information and may differ from the database search.  Including this step may enable the homeowner association to approve an applicant that was to be denied due to the nationwide criminal search.  Or the homeowner association may find negative information in the county search that did not appear on the nationwide search and now have sufficient documentation to deny the applicant.

Ordering Credit Reports

Ordering a credit report is an important part of a complete background check. Many but not all tenant screening agencies have been approved to order credit reports by the credit bureaus.  Homeowner Associations should look for a tenant screening agency which can provide credit reports.  The credit report can help evaluate the tenant’s ability to pay their maintenance fees.  However, the credit report may not detail evictions since many court filings never appear on the credit report.  Ordering an eviction history search is a good idea, since the eviction history of the applicant is a good indicator of their future payment behavior.

Choosing a Tenant Screening Agency

It is wise to choose a tenant screening agency which provides identity verification, a credit report, nationwide criminal search and an eviction history search.  A tenant screening agency which also verifies the results will provide the homeowner association with a valuable and complete background check.