A great tenant makes all the difference. A bad one…

Well, you know how it is. 

As a landlord or property manager, it’s vital to make sure that you bring in quality tenants.

Not just because quality tenants are easier to deal with in general, but because quality tenants:

  • Pay rent on time
  • Take care of your unit and property
  • And are more likely to stay long-term due to an overall more pleasant renting experience

The difference between a good tenant and a bad one is massive, but it’s hard to tell when you’re first meeting prospects. 

That’s why tenant screening is so important.

Screening allows you to gather relevant information that helps inform you about whether that applicant will be a good tenant or not. 

As a result, you save tons of time and headache. 

In the guide below, we’ll break down what tenant screening services cover, how much they typically cost, and review some great tenant screening services. 

If you’re a seasoned landlord who is already familiar with tenant screening and how it works, feel free to skip to the best tenant screening services using the table of contents. 

Why tenant screening matters

What are tenant screening services?

Tenant screening services give landlords and property managers a way of learning about applicants to gain a variety of important information.

That information is key to figuring out if that applicant would make a good, responsible tenant.

For example, information you can get from various tenant screening services include:

  • Criminal background
  • Credit and payment history
  • Evictions

The services themselves use a variety of means depending on the service, typically by using digital methods of combing online databases. 

Why do landlords need tenant screening services?

Without tenant screening, you’re liable to attract less responsible tenants who:

  • Don’t take care of the unit or property
  • Don’t pay their rent on time
  • And are generally higher maintenance, sucking up your time, money, and patience

Tenant screening isn’t a perfect system, but it ensures you’re far less likely to accept an applicant that won’t be a good fit for you. 

The result: a property filled with great tenants who won’t make you keel over from stress. 

How much do tenant screening services typically cost?

While this all might sound great, one pressing question in the back of your mind is likely pricing.

Tenant screening services are a cost, and I’m sure you’re up to your eyelids with costs to manage your properties already.

However, they’re well worth the investment given how much money they’re likely to save you in bad or less favorable tenants. Tenants you may have otherwise accepted without a good screening process in place. 

How much do tenant screening services typically cost?

Fortunately, prices are low, typically ranging from $20-35 per applicant.

You can keep that cost even lower by screening the most promising applicants first, so you only incur a cost on those applicants you screened. 

5 Best tenant screening services

Now, let’s get to some of the best tenant screening services for landlords.

Below is a list of some of the screening services we think are ideal for landlords and property management companies of various sizes. 

Many have unique pros and cons, such as lowest price and most comprehensive, so chances are you’ll find something that’s a fit for you. 

Here are five of the best tenant screening services: 

  • First Advantage
  • SmartMove
  • RentPrep 
  • eRenter 
  • VeriFirst 

1. eRenter


The first option on our list, eRenter is a particular good option if you’re on a tight budget and looking for value

They’re also particularly strong in customer service according to customers, making them a good option if you’re looking for an all-around good customer experience.

The main drawback is that they don’t allow you to charge applicants directly, a sought-after feature that most services offer. 

Their credit history service also isn’t as extensive as other tenant screening tools. 

Services include:

  • Criminal record checks
  • FICO score
  • Credit history (though not a comprehensive report)

2. VeriFirst


A long-time trusted option, VeriFirst offers a comprehensive set of features for those looking for a more robust solution.

They offer standard features such as:

  • Criminal background check
  • Credit history
  • Eviction reports
  • Employment

As well as more niche and premium features such as:

  • Simultaneous applicant and co-applicant screening
  • Education checks
  • Instant reports
  • Extensive online learning

Despite these features, there are still cons. For one, they also don’t offer the ability to charge applicants directly. 

They also don’t have transparent pricing. They require you to contact their sales team directly for more information, which typically means they’re on the pricey end.

3. RentPrep


RentPrep offers a good balance of features, particularly if you’re on a budget and have multiple properties

If you own fifty or more properties, you get a large discount off the typical pricing, making it one of the more affordable options for large portfolios. 

Features include:

  • Criminal background checks
  • Eviction report
  • Credit history
  • Bulk reports

RentPrep is also for those who prefer a more human approach to tenant screening, as they pride themselves on their trained screening team as opposed to boasting about the size of their database like many other screening services who offer instant reports using AI.

On the flip side, this means that RentPrep is slower than most services out there. So, if you’d prefer instant reports, this might not be the option for you. 

They also don’t offer the ability to see credit scores, only credit history.

4. First Advantage

First Advantage

First Advantage offers a number of legal-based services, including a comprehensive tenant screening service.

If you’re in need of other legal services alongside tenant screening, First Advantage is a convenient solution that allows you to get everything from one provider.  

Features include: 

  • Criminal background
  • Rental and utility history
  • Foreign national background checks

However, similar to VeriFirst, First Advantage doesn’t list its pricing publicly. You’ll need to contact them directly to find out more about their pricing plans.

Users also report that the site’s UI can be a bit clumsy and difficult to use, so if you’re looking for something up-to-date and easy to use, it may not be the best option. 

5. SmartMove


SmartMove is offered by TransUnion, so it’s backed by a trusted brand. 

In addition, it’s one of the more comprehensive services on this list, with many other tenant screening services making use of SmartMove’s database and other resources.

You can charge applicants directly as well, offering added convenience. 

Features include:

  • Criminal background
  • Credit “resident score”
  • Income insight report

However, keep in mind that criminal records aren’t available for:

  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • South Dakota
  • Wyoming

If you’re located in one of the above states, you’ll likely want to use another service or in combination with this to get current criminal records. 

Find the right tenants easier

Finding great tenants makes everything easier, and tenant screening is the first step toward doing that. 

The next step, is creating new leases... and if you'd like to learn more about that, give this resource a read!

No matter what tenant screening service you pick, we hope this guide helps you find something that works for you (and within your budget).

And if you’re looking for something both effective and easier to use, try DoorLoop.

With DoorLoop you get a full suite of property management features to help you with everything from:

  • Rent collection
  • Maintenance management
  • Accounting
  • Leasing
  • And more
DoorLoop Landlord Tenant Screening

You also get screening tools such as detailed criminal background checks powered by TransUnion. 

Try DoorLoop’s tenant screening tools today.

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!

Legal Disclaimer

The information on this website is from public sources, for informational purposes only and not intended for legal or accounting advice. DoorLoop does not guarantee its accuracy and is not liable for any damages or inaccuracies.