What Is A Tenant Screening Report? Plus Examples

A tenant screening report provides landlords with essential information on prospective tenants so they can make informed tenant selection decisions.

All landlords will know that a successful rental agreement hinges on mutual respect between tenants and property owners. Just as tenants seek assurance that their landlord will perform their obligations in a timely and professional manner, landlords must be permitted to screen prospective tenants to determine whether they’re able to take on the responsibility of renting.

This process of evaluation is commonly referred to as the tenant screening process. It will typically involve a thorough background check intended to reveal vital information about the tenant’s character, financial status, and rental history. Using the information gathered in a thorough screening report, landlords can work out whether a tenant is likely to be a good fit.

However, a well-executed tenant screening report contains a lot of information. So much so that drawing conclusions can be a surprisingly difficult task. To help landlords develop, issue, and evaluate these vital documents appropriately, the following guide covers all you need to know about tenant screening reports, including insightful examples and best practices.

Find and Screen Tenants With Landlord Studio

Get a comprehensive TransUnion SmartMove report with Landlord Studio in as little as 30 minutes. Reports cost only $40 and can be charged to the tenant* or paid by the landlord. Reports include:

  • Credit score
  • Address history
  • Resident score
  • Nationwide criminal search
  • SSN verifications
  • Nationwide evictions

*Local and state laws may apply

View sample tenant screening report here

What is a tenant background check?

A tenant background check is a structured fact-finding process designed to help landlords evaluate prospective tenants based on provable information. To do this, landlords will need to locate and analyze records of the tenant’s previous behavior across a variety of instances.

When developing an effective tenant background check process, it’s important to consider what information you wish to walk away from the exercise having learned. Understanding the questions you want to have answered will help you work out which types of data to collect.

Alongside obvious information like the tenant’s name, current address, and work history, you can use this process to check whether applicants have taken out renters insurance, had any issues with previous landlords, or been involved in any criminal activities that cause concern.

An effective background check will help you to answer the following questions about tenants:

  • Will they adhere to the terms in your tenancy agreement?
  • Will they cause a nuisance in the neighborhood?
  • Will they pay their rent and bills on time?
  • Are they likely to initiate conflicts or act aggressively?
  • Are they likely to stay in the property long-term?
  • Are they likely to communicate issues in a timely manner?
  • Can you trust them to look after your property?
  • Can you trust that they’ll refrain from committing criminal acts?

What do tenant screening reports consist of?

Tenant screening reports consist of numerous types of information about the tenant’s personal life, employment history, financial records, and past living arrangements. The more data you can collect, the more accurate a picture of the tenant you’ll be able to produce. To simplify the fact-finding process, information types can be sorted into four distinct categories.

Related: What Does A TransUnion Tenant Screening Report Show

Personal information

Prior to performing a tenant screening check, you’ll need to obtain the applicant’s written permission. It’s also wise to ask for their social security number to aid later credit checking processes, though tenants are permitted to refuse. Personal information to ask for includes:

  • Full name
  • Current address
  • Date of birth
  • Contact information
  • Current employer
  • Personal references 

This section of the tenant screening report may also include questions related to the tenant’s lifestyle. Examples include whether they smoke, whether they have pets, how long they have lived in their current home, and whether they’ve ever breached a previous rental agreement.

Public records

The next step of the tenant screening process is to look for as much publicly available data about the tenant as possible. By searching through public records and online databases, you should be able to find insights into past employment, known addresses, and eviction records. 

It’s also wise to search for the applicant’s name online to see if they’ve ever appeared in the news, or contributed to any notable projects outside of employment. This step can be a great way to gain an understanding of the prospective tenant’s character and genuine personality.

Criminal record

Conducting a criminal record check is one of the most important aspects of tenant screening. This process will help you avoid entering into agreements with known criminals or dangerous persons that could cause damage to your property, or impact the safety of the neighborhood.

Modern criminal record checks will return detailed information pertaining to any interactions a prospective tenant may have had with law enforcement officers. This includes details of specific crimes, the dates at which they occurred, and whether the applicant was convicted.

Rental History

The rental history shows their previous addresses which you can then use to verify against the addresses entered onto their rental application, as well as a nationwide eviction check.

Credit history 

Finally, performing a credit check will help you to evaluate the applicant’s financial situation at present. This process will reveal the prospective tenant’s payment history, the amount of debt they have, and important information about every monthly payment they’re currently making.

While credit checks don’t necessarily paint a complete picture of a person’s financial history, they can help you determine whether a prospective tenant is financially responsible. If the report returns a good score, the tenant will likely be able to handle monthly rent payments.

Related: 8 Methods for Tenants to Show Proof of Income

Final words: Effortless tenant screening reports with Landlord Studio

Creating, conducting, and evaluating an effective tenant screening report requires great care and attention to detail. If performed correctly, these reports can help to ensure your property remains safe and your finances are not affected by the actions of bad tenants.

By leveraging software solutions like Landlord Studio, landlords can streamline the entire tenant finding and selection process. Create a free rental listing and collect and prescreen leads, manage tenant applications, and of course, run a comprehensive tenant screening report. 

Running a tenant screening report with Landlord Studio is easy. Sign up for your free Landlord Studio account and then simply enter your applicant's emails, and receive a detailed screening report in minutes. 

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