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Finding good tenants can be hard if you don't have the right screening tools in place.

But moving in the wrong tenants can turn out to be very costly.

A recent study found that roughly 3.6 million annual eviction cases were filed in the U.S. over the past 20 years. 

Each of these cases is a loss for landlords in the form of:

  • Missing rental income
  • Court filings
  • Costly repairs
  • And the cost of replacing the tenant 

In other words, the loss of the two most important resources to you: time and money. 

Fortunately, there’s a tool that landlords and property managers can use to help avoid all of these potential issues and the resulting losses: tenant screening.

Why tenant screening is so important

Running tenant background checks is the best defense that landlords have against evictions.

But tenant screening doesn’t just help avoid evictions. 

Finding better tenants that are more likely to be financially and generally responsible means:

  • An easier time collecting rent
  • Fewer maintenance and repair issues long-term
  • And fewer tenant issues overall

When done well, tenant screening ensures that you rent your units to qualified applicants who are far less likely to cause issues.

The problem? Historically, background checks have been a challenge to get. 

Sometimes costly but always time-consuming and typically not comprehensive enough to give you the information you need, they were less than convenient.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

First, let’s talk about how to run tenant background checks and screen the typical way.

Then, we’ll talk about a better more integrated way to screen tenants that is not only faster and more reliable but far more extensive– leading to better, higher-quality applicant info.

How to run a background check on prospective tenants (the old way)

Many landlords still use outdated online services to conduct their background checks. 

This old process presents a few issues when compared to more modern (i.e. faster, easier to use, and more comprehensive) solutions.

This is how tenant screening used to be done:

1. Request a report (then wait)

Online background check services can take days to get back to you with the reports that you or your tenants have requested.

And the longer you take to process a tenant’s application, the likelier they may be to receive a positive decision about another rental property in the meantime. 

You could lose out on a highly qualified tenant just because another landlord gets their background reports faster than you.

Also, if you’re taking several days to process a tenant’s application, you may turn away other qualified applicants for a unit before learning that the original applicant isn’t qualified.

2. Store your tenant screening reports

Isolated background check services typically don’t store the data for you.

This means that you need to take the reports generated and figure out your own solution for storing them and managing that data over time so that you can refer back to it if needed. 

Remember that this may be multiple reports from multiple different platforms, so you'll need an independent storage system such as a cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive.

3. Repeat for multiple services and reports

Stand-alone background check services don’t give you full control over what the reports contain.

You may be able to find some customization by choosing between different services and packages they offer.

However, you won’t get a truly customized tenant screening experience since these services aren’t set up to provide one.

Plus, different types of tenant screening reports don’t communicate together. 

This can create a situation in which you aren’t getting as much data as you really want before making a decision about an applicant’s tenancy. 

Or you’re taking way too long just to get a few reports back (for a single tenant). 

You might go to one place for a credit report, another for a criminal background check, and yet another for rental history.

If you're having to go to two to three separate services to get all your reports, you're wasting valuable time.

The problem: A more difficult experience for landlords and tenants

Old-school online background check services tend to be difficult for applicants to use.

This is a problem as many landlords and property managers have their systems set up to have the tenant request their background check themselves. 

If the process is too complex, applicants may just say forget it in favor of the other property they were considering which made the process easier. 

If your process is something like this, you could be actively pushing away applicants from renting with you. 

And even if you’re using a more modern background check service, you're still dealing with the issues we talked about above:

  • You need to wait for reports to come in from multiple sources, which means the slowest of them is holding up your process
  • Request reports from several different sources, which means manual input of the same information multiple times (super inefficient)
  • And you need to store the information yourself and set up a documentation system to store everything effectively

If you rather do things this way, it’s on you to do the extra work to make this function properly. 

But it's not the only way to do things.

With DoorLoop’s complete background check and tenant screening services, you can simplify this entire process down to:

  • A few minutes
  • A single report, and
  • One all-inclusive platform to store and view your reports.

Not only that, you can generate the most comprehensive tenant screening report available, so you have more data to make an informed decision about which applicants to lease with.

How to run tenant background checks quickly and easily with Doorloop

So far, we’ve talked about the traditional way to run background checks and find out about your prospective tenants.

This method is not only slow and complex, it’s also difficult for applicants to use and doesn’t offer comprehensive reports. 

Adding DoorLoop to the mix, however, gives you:

  • Faster background checks
  • That can easily be completed by tenants within minutes
  • With more customization
  • Ultra-comprehensive applicant data
  • And simplified data storage

With DoorLoop’s tenant screening services, you can run tenant background checks in five simple steps. Here’s what that process looks like:

1. Get your applications up and running in minutes

The first step is to tell Doorloop what information you want tenants to provide on their background check forms.

Social security, driver's license, and contact information will be included automatically. But you can add more fields to get more detailed data. 

You get complete control so that you can get everything you need to make the best leasing decisions possible, including:

  • Rental and eviction history
  • Criminal background report
  • Credit report
  • Tenant score
  • Pet info
  • Dependents
  • Emergency contacts
  • Co-signors
  • Employment
  • Vehicle information
  • And more

2. Set up your application fees in a few clicks

Once you’ve finalized the information you’re going to request on your applications, you can set up an application fee.

You can choose to toggle on an application fee or not with a simple click. Just like this:

DoorLoop Application Fee Setup

From this point, all that you need to do when someone wants to apply to your unit is send them a link to your application. 

They’ll follow the on-screen instructions to complete it, and you’ll get the finished product delivered directly to your Doorloop account as soon as it’s finished.

3. Request your screening reports (all from one place)

When you get a completed application, you can view it and then request a background check from TransUnion SmartMove.

Transunion SmartMove

But no need to head to a separate website, create a new login, process a report request, and upload to your chosen software.

Instead, requesting a complete report including criminal background, credit, eviction history and more is as simple as a few clicks using DoorLoop:

DoorLoop Generate Tenant Background Checks

TransUnion sends the near-instant results of the query, so you’ll know whether the applicant has met your rental criteria or not within minutes after submitting the report.

The reason that Doorloop doesn’t do this for you automatically, is that TransUnion SmartMove reports expire after 60 days. 

We don’t want these to go away before you’ve made a decision, so we let you make the request when you’re ready. But don’t worry. The process for this is just a single click.

One thing to note is that it can sometimes take up to 72 hours to get your complete report back, but this depends on the kind of information you’ve requested. 

Once you have the report, you’ll be able to download a PDF of it immediately so that you can save it, if necessary, for the sake of compliance.

4. Review your reports quickly and easily

The next step in this process is to review the report that you’ve received from TransUnion and use it to make a final decision about the person’s application.

Getting access to your reports is click-button easy. Plus, you can see them all in one convenient place:

DoorLoop Review Tenant Screening Reports

There are several great pieces of information you’ll get in the report that will likely influence your decision-making process.

For example, you’ll get a section that looks like the screenshot below, showing you whether the applicant has a criminal history or not. 

This helps you keep your property as safe as possible for all tenants and ensures that you’re informed no matter what you decide to do.

DoorLoop gives you a nice, clear look at any eviction-related proceedings that may be ongoing for an applicant.

On top of these data points, you’ll also get TransUnion’s quick-look income insight report. 

This gives you an immediate sense of whether your applicant’s self-reported income matches what they actually make.

5. Make a decision

Now the only thing you have left to do is take in all of the information you’ve received and use it to make an informed decision.

This is where you have the flexibility to exercise your own personal judgment as a landlord based on your experience and gut sense of an applicant.

Just make sure that you comply with all relevant fair housing laws. If you’re going to deny an applicant, it can’t be on the basis of them belonging to a protected class, such as being of a certain race or gender.

Even if that plays no role in your actual decision-making process whatsoever, you can’t make it appear like it does, either. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to download your TransUnion reports and save them. This is how you can show tenants that have a problem with your process that you based your decision on the facts.

Discover an all-around better tenant screening experience– Try a free demo of Doorloop today

Incomplete screening reports and disjointed systems are just two of the main issues with traditional tenant screening report services.

Fortunately, DoorLoop's all-in-one tenant screening and leasing management tools offer a simple solution with major benefits.

DoorLoop Property Management Software Features

Not only do you get a complete suite of leasing features such as automatic listings, online applications, and a convenient tenant portal....

...you also get access to comprehensive screening reports that include:

  • Background check
  • Credit report
  • Eviction history
  • Bankruptcies
  • And more

Plus, you can store the information automatically in DoorLoop for your records without having to bandaid together digital filing cabinets and spreadsheets.

You can experience a free demo of Doorloop today to see how much easier it makes it to get the information you need from applicants, manage that data, and make more informed decisions to benefit your rental portfolio.

David Bitton

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!