AccuRental Tenant Screening Adapts to Changing Credit Laws
Changes in credit regulations are changing the tenant screening options available to landlords.
Online PR News – 22-February-2013 As the credit industry and the federal regulations that control it
change with every passing year, the engaged landlord and property manager must change along with them.
Just a decade ago, an individual landlord had no chance of performing a credit check on a potential tenant
without involving a private investigator or going directly to the credit bureaus. Just five years ago, landlords
had virtually no access to nationwide criminal record repositories. And only a year ago, applicant-initiated
tenant screening was essentially no existent.
For history’s sake, let’s review a few of the major changes in tenant screening that have occurred over the
last few years.
1. Criminal Background Checks
Tenant screening used to be entirely focused on an applicant’s credit worthiness, with less than 15% of
landlords running criminal background checks in 2000. Today, criminal data is accepted industry-wide as a
critical component of tenant screening with over 95% of active landlords performing criminal record checks
as a component of their tenant screening.
The obvious question is what accounts for this significant increase? To start, technological advances have
dramatically altered the tenant screening landscape. Criminal data has become more accessible and
affordable as courts and county-level data providers have actively begun consolidating court records online.
As the renter population became increasingly mobile, these online databases helped overcome data
challenges with screening out-of-state applicants. Additionally, state courts began ruling that property
managers would risk potential liability if they failed to use available resources to identify and reject criminal
applicants, such as sex offenders or terrorists, which may threaten the safety of other residents. All of these
factors increased the value of criminal screening and led the multifamily industry to embrace it.
Today, credit monitoring services and the high exposure of digital identity theft has
caused prospective renters to become much more aware of their personal data and its
2. Simplifying the Tenant Screening Process
The multifamily trend to simplify and consolidate systems has changed how we all do business. People
wanted consolidated databases that could provide all the information necessary in a single sitting. The
overabundance of different logins, platforms, search mechanisms, etc. was exhausting. In response, the
background and tenant screening industry embraced XML integration so that different platforms and
databases could connect and “talk” to each other. Because of this increased integration, companies like
AccuRental Tenant Screening are able to provide instant credit, criminal, and eviction history through a
3. Expanded Services
Less than a decade ago, tenant screening analytics were limited because of higher costs and technological
limitations. Today's much improved data infrastructure and visualization tools make it possible to generate
executive screening analytics more frequently, with faster delivery and better quality. AccuRental
recognized the value of using analytics to gain insight into screening performance and established a team of
expert account managers to help clients apply screening analytics to improve their business.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act ("FCRA") has also led to positive developments in the services that tenant /
background screening firms offer. AccuRental Tenant Screening, for example, provides a "soft-inquiry"
tenant credit review option for prospective applicants that are worried about providing sensitive
information to landlords or for the negative effect a "hard inquiry" could have on their credit score. Through
applicant-initiated tenant screening options, the applicant need only provide an email address to the
landlord during the application process. The tenant screening company then uses that email address to
credit a secured and encrypted form for the applicant to enter his/her identification information and consent
to the credit review. This produces a "soft hit," which has zero effect on the applicant's credit score.
4. Streamlining Dispute Resolution
Today, credit monitoring services and the high exposure of digital identity theft has caused prospective
renters to become much more aware of their personal data and its potential implications. As a result, they
are more likely to challenge property managers and data providers if they suspect inaccuracies or
discrimination. Consequently, it is invaluable to handle applicant disputes in a responsive way because you
never want to wrongly reject a qualified applicant. Recognizing the importance of this, AccuRental has
employed an applicant dispute process into our screening program to help our clients resolve these issues
The rental industry must be forward thinking and work together to create a bigger and better future. As an
industry leader in developing resident screening best practices, AccuRental will continue to embrace
technology to deliver the most value for our clients. AccuRental looks forward to the challenge of staying
ahead of trends and leading innovation in the decade to come.
AccuRental Tenant Screening