Why work with Screening Services and not the competition?
Screening Services is owned and operated by Landlords for Landlords. With over twenty years of experience, we know what to look for in a tenant and we share our experience with our clients. The only people answering the phones in our office are Landlords........just like you. We are not attorneys, so we don't give legal advice. We are Landlords. We brainstorm tenant/landlord problems and offer practical advice and opinions. We make ordering reports as simple as possible. No gimmicks. No unnecessary searches. No added fees. The information you need to make an educated decision can be found on ScreeningServices.com
What are the benfits to registering with Screening Services?
All registered Landlords are encouraged to join the Discussion Board. Available 24/7 Landlords from all over the United States log in and ask questions or offer suggestions. We occasionally have guest monitors who are experienced Landlords or real estate attorneys who can shed light on some of the most difficult landlord/tenant situations. If you keep your email address current, we will periodically send Landlord tips, changes in laws, new forms and even a joke or two.
What is a site visit? How long does it take? Why is it necessary?
It takes only a short time to verify your information and assign an account number. Until we can schedule a site visit, we will verbally share information regarding your prospective tenants and help you to make your tenancy decision. Once the site visit is complete, we will send you copies of our research. This non-invasive, 10 minute site visit assures the credit reporting agency that you are a Landlord and you have a legal right to obtain a copy of the tenant's credit report. This quick, nothing to fear, no hassle inspection is conducted by a licensed inspector who has been approved by the credit reporting agency. An appointment will be made at your convenience. (1) Your driver’s license will be verified. (2) The individual will verify that you have a locked cabinet in which to store the copies of the reports. (3) And check to see that you have a paper shredder.
Why not use a company that says they don't need a site inspection?
All tenant screening companies must abide by the same law, The Fair Credit Reporting Act. There are no shortcuts or exceptions. As soon as the credit reporting agency finds out they are operating illegally, they will be shut down. Your personal information could be at risk.
Why would a full credit report be a better choice than a summary?
The more details you have, the better decision you can make. Medical bills, cable and cell phone collections may be legitimate disputes and will lower the credit rating. You may be passing on an excellent tenant for all the wrong reasons.
Do I have to use your tenant release?
Yes. You must use our Tenant Release since it meets the Fair Credit Reporting Act. (According to the FCRA, the tenant release must be a separate and distinct form allowing the Landlord to run a credit report. It can't be part of the application.) For your convenience, a rental application is available.
What if I run the credit and decide not to rent to an individual?
Treat each applicant the same, with respect and dignity. Know your local, state and federal laws (Fair Credit Reporting Act and FACTA) regarding the use of consumer reports. If you are denying occupancy based on the consumer report, you are obligated to provide the tenant with a copy of the Adverse Action Letter. We always suggest that you keep a record as to why you denied tenancy. Click here for a Sample Denial Letter.
Why do I need an eviction report?
Your rental property is probably one of your largest assets. Why let a stranger move in and impact your life for the next 12 months? Now is the time to conduct a thorough due diligence investigation, not after the person has moved in and wrecked your home! People are evicted for reasons other than non-payment of rent; drug activity, noise ordinance and health code violations. What a tenant has done in the past is what they are going to do in the future.
Can I run a credit report without a social security number?
In some cases, yes. For best results, a social security number is very valuable; however, if you have a signed release with the correct spelling of the tenant's first and last name and the past two addresses, we may be able to help you.
Do I need a signed release from the tenant?
Absolutely! Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a Landlord must have a separate and distinct tenant release clearly stating that the tenant gives permission to run a credit report and criminal record search. We suggest that the Landlord review a picture ID and watch the individual sign the release or have the signature notarized at a local bank.
Who should be screened?
Any adult who is going to be living in the rental property should be screened.
Why should every adult living in the property sign the lease?
If a person is not listed as a tenant, the Landlord may not be able to prove occupancy and therefore collect damages. It may be more difficult to evict someone without documentation. Why not spread the financial risk to all parties concerned?
Does the landlord have to keep copies of the signed release?
Yes, the Landlord is obligated to retain the tenant's signed release for a period of 5 years.
How do I know if the information the tenant writes on the application is truthful?
You don't. Although an application is extremely helpful, always verify the information through an independent source. For example, rather than calling the telephone number provided by the tenant, use the Yellow Pages or directory assistance. Be sure to talk to Human Resources. Call your county auditor's office to verify the name of the owner of each of the tenant's past addresses. Then give the real owner a call. Ask the Landlord if he would rent to them again. Did they give proper notice? Did they leave the property in good condition? Did they have pets? Did they pay on time and as agreed?
When I called the past landlord, he refused to answer my questions. What do I do now?
The release that the tenant signed, giving you permission to run a credit report, has a dual purpose. It allows the current or any of the former Landlords the right to answer your questions regarding the tenant. Call the Landlord back and offer to fax or mail a copy of the signed tenant release along with a short list of your questions.
How helpful is the tenant's credit score?
We don't consider it useful. If you were a mortgage company or a car dealership, the score would be important. However, a Landlord must look at each line item of the credit report. The Landlord must review the report and ask themselves why the score was low. If it is because of medical bills, foreclosure or a discharged bankruptcy, the tenant may still be an excellent candidate. Look at the entire picture, not just a score.
Will running the credit report lower the tenant's FICO score?
No, it will not lower the credit score. Credit reports run for tenant and employment screening purposes do not lower credit scores.
The tenant says his credit isn't very good. Is running a credit report a waste of money?
If only the tenant could see what we see! They don't know what constitutes "good" or "bad" credit. We are not only looking for how much they owe and whether they are paying each month, we are also looking for honesty. Were they up-front and sharing of information that directly impacts their ability to pay? Have they been convicted of a felony? What are the chances of them filing bankruptcy within the next year? Look at the complete package, not a single line item or a credit score.
I choose not to rent to tenants who smoke. I don't want dogs or cats in my rental property. Is this considered discrimination?
No, whether you rent to individuals with pets or to people who smoke is up to you. You are, however, lowering the number of applicants who would be able to rent your home. This is a business, and in a difficult market strict standards may cost the Landlord his profit.
How do I decrease my risk with a tenant with poor credit or no credit?
You need to spread the risk over multiple people. Download a copy of our sample co-signer agreement. Another choice is to require a larger security deposit.