Automated tenant screening is not in your company’s best interest!

Over the past few years Rental Services, Inc. has noticed more companies transitioning to the use of applicant tracking software, also known as property management software. These software products handle the general bookkeeping and keep track of a resident through the complete rental cycle. Many of these software platforms have an additional option that provides automated tenant screening services for an extra fee. RSI has also noticed these companies using an instant nationwide criminal report. I’m writing to clarify why the automated tenant screening provided with this type of software and the nationwide criminal records are an inferior product compared to the reports provided by Rental Services, Inc. and why using them is not in your company’s best interest.

Let’s start off by looking at Eviction records, they tell you a lot about a perspective renter. The first eviction can be traumatic for the renter. The second eviction doesn’t hold the same mystery. It’s like watching a scary movie and then watching it again, the movie will never be as scary the second time around. This same principle applies to evictions. Automated screening will often not include this search; if it is included the software doesn’t verify the eviction record! This means you’re left with a name and address match. Are you going to verify the eviction? If it’s a false positive and you report the record, are you willing to take on the financial liability? At RSI we verify all eviction records by matching the applicant’s social security number with the source of the eviction record. We also develop for each applicant, a list of addresses that we investigate to locate even more possible eviction records. You won’t get that with an automated service.

Most of these add-on screening products provide a nationwide criminal report. Nationwide criminal reports are full of holes and have little to no coverage in certain states like Colorado. The records for Colorado that are sometimes contained in a nationwide criminal report come from the Colorado Department of Corrections. This data contains offenders currently incarcerated, involved in community corrections or patrolled under the supervision of the Colorado Department of Corrections. All this information is only provided on criminals currently under the supervision of the Colorado Department of Corrections. RSI has several clients who have tried this information in the past and have experienced significant issues with missing criminal records. RSI has even had past clients tell us they moved in registered sex-offenders and that’s why they were returning to RSI.

At Rental Services, Inc. we access Colorado criminal records through the Colorado Courts. The information is accessed in real time from all county and district level courts in Colorado. Access to the Colorado Courts provides conviction information on criminals currently incarcerated, paroled, serving probation or have completed all requirements and are no longer under the supervision of law enforcement. Trained RSI Investigators review all criminal records for accuracy. If the applicant is from another state besides Colorado, don’t worry, RSI has access to criminal records from all 50 states.

Criminal reports are not a one size fits all product. Based on your geographic location RSI might suggest using a national, state or county criminal product. This is why you need a company that can be easily contacted and is available to discuss your specific needs.

Most property management software offers online rental applications as an additional service. This can be a great tool, that’s why RSI has offered this service for years. The RSI Quick App allows tenants to submit rental applications and authorize credit & background checks all online. Do you need them to submit a photo ID or pay stub? The RSI Quick App allows applicants to upload documents. The RSI Quick App can be set up to collect application fees and even generate a copy of your company’s lease agreement.

While reviewing different property management software I’ve noticed that the tenant screening add-on feature never provides verification phone calls. Making sure your prospective tenant has verifiable income and employment. This information is important in making an informed rental decision. You want to make sure the applicant has a reliable source of income and that source of income is from a legal endeavor. Moving a drug dealer in to your property probably isn’t a promising idea. Calling a rental reference is the most important verification call you can make. A rental reference can give details of the payment habits, care of the property, complaints and even pest problems. Automated screening lacks the ability to inform you that your prospective applicant was moving because of a bed bug infestation! Verification calls are the backbone of a full-service background verification company like Rental Services.

RSI works with several clients that use property management software. Based on each individual client, we have provided customized screening option. RSI provides over 34 years of credit reporting, background screening and information services experience. When you have a question about a report, we have the answer. Don’t expect that when you contact a management software call center.

If you would like to discuss options to your services, please contact the RSI office at 303-420-1212 or 800-628-6414.

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