My Last Tenant Was a Bank Robber

Over the past few months I have been getting a number calls from new landlords looking for tenant screening and asking about TenantMagic’s online rental application and background screening program. Many times they relate stories to me about not doing backgrounds checks on their previous tenants and the predictable bad consequences.

One landlord told me that she recently had a tenant taken away by the police in handcuffs. When she inquired why, the police told her that he was being arrested for bank robbery. She told me how surprised she was and that he “was such a friendly guy.” Tenant screening would have shown that being friendly doesn’t necessarily make for a good tenant.

Many of my discussions involve the benefits of requiring background screenings on all tenants 18 and over. She and many other landlords have told me that they are (or think they are) a good judge of character. Not only is this intuition many times incorrect, it can also cause issues with Fair Housing compliance.

My other recent conversation was with a landlord that had her property used as a meth lab. This can be very serious and dangerous. Meth labs can explode and destroy the property. Meth houses also attract meth addicts which many times are also  criminals. Additionally, the chemicals used in meth production are very toxic. Meth house remediation costs can range from $3000 – $25,000 according to this story in the Boston Globe. https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2013/12/28/meth-lab-cleanup-growing-industry/Mvcx3cpnQ6P6wLOE2ejDuJ/story.html

These stories really demonstrate the importance of doing a comprehensive background check on your tenants. Your rental property is a very large investment and landlords need to make every effort to protect that investment by thoroughly checking out prospective tenants. This includes criminal and eviction history in addition to income, credit and payment histories.

Making judgements based on a single meeting with a potential applicant is unreliable and can potentially result in Fair Housing compliance issues.

Using a quick, easy and free screening program such as TenantMagic, can help assure you that you are getting a qualified tenant which goes a long way to protecting your property investment.

Guide to Choosing the Best Tenant Screening Service 2017 (Part 2)

In my last post, Guide to Choosing the Best Tenant Screening Service 2017         (Part 1) I wrote about  “what makes TenantMagic better than the rest of the tenant screening companies out there?”  That post looked at the importance of having comprehensive screenings to make a qualified decision when considering rental applicants.

In this post I want to look at the other end of the spectrum, screening reports that have volumes of data and analytics.

A business acquaintance of mine has a real estate agent service platform and recently contacted me regarding a competitor that offers a similar application and screening program. They approached him to explore potential partnering opportunities. My acquaintance asked me what I thought of the company.

Their web site had a good clean design and did a nice job of presenting their program. The 5-minute video on the home page spent a lot of time talking about using artificial intelligence for their reporting analytics.

I then looked at their sample reports and was overwhelmed by the number of analytics and charts. A lot of the data was nice to know but really did not add much to the overall decision making process. From my perspective, it would lead to analysis paralysis. Here is a good article that describes analysis paralysis in decision making. https://personalexcellence.co/blog/analysis-paralysis/

I base this observation on the calls I receive from both agents and landlords users of TenantMagic. We have made every effort to make our reports as easy to read and review as possible. Over the years we have made changes from the input we have received from our users. In spite of all of these efforts we do get users that need assistance. We do provide written instructions and have short explainer videos but some still need to be walked through the process the first time.

TenantMagic users want both comprehensive information and the ability to quickly evaluate it. We work very hard to maintain that balance to make sure agents and owners select TenantMagic when choosing the best tenant screening service. After all they are using our service to save time and overwhelming them with data is counterproductive.

When choosing the best tenant screening service, agents and landlords need to consider how well the tenant screening provider understands their information and time requirements. TenantMagic understands those requirements by listening to our users.

How Great Customer Service Impacts Your Business

Great customer service
Excellent customer service directly impacts your business

In my last 2 posts I wrote about the importance of customer service for tenant screening providers and how TenantMagic uses customer service to create a competitive advantage.

Since that post we noticed a spike in registrations that still continues. I originally attributed it to our blogs and marketing efforts. This was only was only partially correct.

Fortunately, a number of the new registrants called in for additional information. They were from all over the country and I asked them how they heard about TenantMagic. Most of them told me that they heard of us from recommendations on Trulia’s www.trulia.com website forum discussing the “Best website to use for tenant screening.”

Below are 2 comments that mention TenantMagic’s customer service.

“TenantMagic. TenantMagic. Easiest, simplest, most effective way to screen my applicants. I’ve been doing rentals for 28 years and I have never had an easier and better way to screen than TenantMagic. If you are ever looking for a tenant screening service that is free to the user, that is easy with immediate results, that provides everything you would want like criminal, eviction, credit, sex offender, etc, then switch to TenantMagic.
http://www.tenantmagic.net is the best I’ve come across. I spoke immediately with the owner who assisted me and my applicants right away.
No cost. Simple to use. Better than e-renter, cozy, my rental, etc. 10/10.”

“Rentprep is a very good service, but I actually was not satisfied with how much time it took to get my application. They say that it is because they are doing the applications by hand and reviewing them, which I believe.
But I switched to a company called TenantMagic http://www.tenantmagic.net and have received the same application review services checking for any mistakes, false positives, etc, and found that it is much cheaper than rent prep, and much better. I spoke with owner right away, he was very helpful. I agree with above comments that tenant background is terrible, and my rental is also not a great service. I’ve tried 3-4 services and nothing compared to customer service and speed of TenantMagic.”

You can check out the actual comments and thread at – https://www.trulia.com/voices/Property_QandA/Best_website_to_use_for_tenant_screening_-641199

It is really satisfying to implement a strategy and see how it directly impacts your business. One of my favorite sayings is “ It is simple but not easy.” And that surely applies to establishing a customer service strategy that works.

Tenant Screening Services – Why TenantMagic Works Best

Tenant Screening Services - Why TenantMagic works best
Uses TenantMagic Tenant Screening Services

The TenantMagic staff  conducted a competitive analysis of tenant screening services providers to see how TenantMagic compares. We found many services that offer the same type of reports – credit, criminal, eviction, and sex offender. We then took a further dive to see how TenantMagic was different.

The tenant screening services we selected offered similar reports. We excluded companies that only provided credit reports and enterprise property management systems that had tenant screening as a part of a suite of services.

Overall, we found that the other tenant screening services focused strictly on the reports, where TenantMagic handles the entire application and screening process along with providing customer service to the applicants every step along the way.

We interviewed dozens of real estate agents and landlords when we were developing TenantMagic five years ago. The time it took to get prospects through the application process was the one pain that was consistently articulated by both agent and landlords.

It starts with the handling the calls and setting up appointments. Then there is the time it takes to collect the completed applications (usually paper), application fees, run a background report and make a selection.

The biggest headaches came from applicants that were:

  • No shows
  • Just looking
  • Went through the application process but didn’t meet basic income qualifications

If a background report was used by the agent and landlord it usually consisted of a credit report, which alone is not sufficient to determine the quality of a potential renter.

What we found was that TenantMagic is the only tenant screening program that addresses the entire application process from the inquiry to providing the notification to applicants that were both accepted or declined.

The agent or landlord simply enters the applicant’s email into the system and TenantMagic handles the rest. This includes all customer service during the application process for the applicant. If there is a problem, the applicant is instructed to contact TenantMagic, not the agent or landlord.

The agent or landlord gets a completed application with the screening reports and a rental recommendation based on income and credit history requirements. The completed application and  reports are available minutes after being submitted by the applicant.

As an added benefit, TenantMagic is free to agents and landlords. The applicant pays the fee.

By using TenantMagic,  agents and  landlords can stop wasting time with unqualified rental applicants and focus on their primary business. And that is why TenantMagic is the tenant screening service that works best for not only agents and landlords but applicants too.

Credit Report Criteria Changes Affecting Real Estate Agents and Landlords

 

credit reports, tenant screening
Changes to credit reporting criteria impacting real estate agents and landlords

Effective July, 1 2017 there are going to be changes regarding credit report criteria.  They were announced by the  National Consumer Assistance Plan last year.

The changes now take data accuracy and quality into consideration and specifically address-

  • Medical debts won’t be reported until after a 180-day “waiting period” to allow insurance payments to be applied. The CRAs will also remove from credit reports previously reported medical collections that have been or are being paid by insurance.
  • Consistent standards will be reinforced by the credit bureaus to lenders and others that submit data for inclusion in a credit report (data furnishers).
  • Data furnishers will be prohibited from reporting authorized users without a date of birth and the CRAs will reject data that does not comply with this requirement.
  • The CRAs will eliminate the reporting of debts that did not arise from a contract or agreement by the consumer to pay, such as traffic tickets or fines.
  • A multi-company working group of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies has been formed to regularly review and help ensure consistency and uniformity in the data submitted by data furnishers for inclusion in a consumer’s credit report.

Recently there have been a number of articles and announcements about these changes. What landlords and real estate agents using credit reports as part of their tenant screening need to know is that there should be only a minimal impact. And those changes should help clarify some information you are getting in your reports.

The new policy will require any record reported to a credit bureau to contain a name, social security number and/or birthdate, as well as an address. Tax liens and civil debt reports will likely be most impacted as SSNs are not included as a security precaution.

The accuracy of the reporting should be improved by matching records. As a result, reports with false positives should be reduced.

As I have mentioned in other postings, a credit report alone is not sufficient to adequately assess a rental applicant. Agents and landlords also need eviction and criminal reports. When you combine the three you get a much more robust view to make an informed decision.

TenantMagic provides comprehensive application and tenant screening at no cost to real estate agents, property managers and landlords. Applicants pay the fee.

Jay Apple is co-founder of TenantMagic, LLC  www.tenantmagic.net