How long does tenant screening take?

In property management, one of the most crucial steps for landlords and property owners is tenant screening. This process isn’t merely about filling vacancies; it’s a strategic measure to mitigate risks and ensure a harmonious and secure environment for all parties involved.

It’s important to select a screening provider that will deliver timely results, but in an economically uncertain climate and a highly competitive market, it can be tempting to look for ways to rush through the screening process. Although screening might add time to the leasing process, it’s a necessary step that should be handled thoroughly by a trusted resident screening software.

In this post, we explore what tenant screening is, how long tenant screening can take, and why you should be wary of screening providers offering “instant results.”

Why is tenant screening important?

Tenant screening is a fundamental step in property management, serving as a proactive measure to safeguard investments and ensure a secure environment for all occupants. Here’s why it’s indispensable:

Minimizing financial risks – Thorough screening reduces the chances of non-payment and late payments by assessing applicants’ financial stability, credit history, and rental track record.

Mitigating legal risk – Eviction proceedings and legal entanglements are both costly and time-consuming for property managers and can hurt a community’s reputation. Screening helps identify quality candidates and filter out fraudsters.

Fostering community safety – In multifamily properties, screening ensures a safe environment for all, including both tenants and leasing staff alike.

Promoting long-term stability – Finding reliable tenants through screening reduces turnover rates, fosters adherence to lease agreements, and helps ensure a steady cashflow.

For landlords, knowing that the people leasing their properties are trustworthy provides peace of mind in the long run, and ensures a more successful community and a smooth-running relationship for both landlord and tenant.

What to check for tenant screening

Tenant screening is a crucial step in the lead to lease process, ensuring that landlords are given a clear picture by their screening provider as to which prospects are qualified for their property while also respecting state and federal fair housing laws. In order to align with tenant screening best practices, it’s important to have a reliable provider that will thoroughly and responsibly evaluate each applicant. Below are just a few factors that your screening provider might assess.

Employment history

Your screening provider should confirm that the prospect is who they say they are and that they are gainfully employed. Conferring with a system of record at an applicant’s listed employer can help confirm that the applicant works there and that the employer can attest to the prospect’s identity. Additionally, a thorough screening provider may speak directly with the employer if technical or other issues arise in the employment screening process. This direct confirmation helps establish stability and reliability, enhancing the screening process.

Rental history

A tenant screening provider will also look into a prospect’s rental history. More specifically, the provider will be looking for any history of evictions. An eviction does not immediately disqualify a prospect, but it is one of the factors considered in the screening process. By validating rental history, lining it up alongside other factors like employment and income, and adhering to fair housing laws, screening providers offer landlords a glimpse into whether a tenant may be qualified for their property.

Background checks

In the tenant screening process, conducting comprehensive background checks is essential for creating a safe and successful property. These background checks can include:

  1. Credit reports and scores: Having a human-supported screening process that looks at credit reports can offer insights into financial responsibility and payment history, helping a property assess the applicant’s ability to manage financial obligations.
  2. Eviction-related reports: Accessing eviction records provides context on past rental disputes or evictions.
  3. Criminal history: When your screening providers examines criminal records, the provider enables landlords to better ensure the safety of tenants and leasing staff.

Income

In the tenant screening process, your provider should be looking to verify that the applicant has a steady source of income. When verifying an applicant’s income, screening providers can go to the source of record (bank statements, pay stubs, etc.) to filter out fraudulent applicants before they even step onsite.

How long does tenant screening take?

The duration of tenant screening can vary depending on several factors, typically spanning from two to three days.

What factors affect how long a tenant screening takes?

  1. Type and extent of background checks: The complexity of background checks, such as credit reports or criminal history inquiries, affects screening duration.
  2. Complexity of the screening process: More extensive screenings involving multiple sources and in-depth analysis require additional time for data collection and evaluation.
  3. Availability of information: The accessibility of data from credit bureaus, employers, and previous landlords influences screening speed.
  4. Responsiveness of the tenant: Timely provision of required information and prompt response to inquiries by tenants expedite the screening process, reducing delays.

Are there ways to speed up tenant screening?

Yes, but just because you can does not mean you should.

Considering these factors already discussed, it may be tempting when choosing a resident screening provider to prioritize one that offers “fast” and “instant” screening results. However, automated screening tools that promise instant results can create liability for your property and open your business up to legal risk.

Regardless of how long it takes, the resident screening process is important, and speedy tenant screening can expose your community to legal risk. Studies have shown that instant screening solutions can increase the risks of false positives in the tenant screening process and can expose your community to legal action under the Fair Housing Act. The right screening provider should provide streamlined, efficient tenant screening that doesn’t cut corners on thorough verification.

FAQs

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