Are you a property manager looking for new tenants? Are you tired of sifting through endless paperwork to find an appropriate candidate? If yes, you are not alone. Many property owners find it difficult to adequately screen potential tenants before renting out apartments or commercial spaces.
It is important to screen applicants for their financial stability, long term plans for living, community fit, etc. Applicants who have a history of property damage, late or missed payments, evictions, or threat to safety of other tenants, present clear red flags.
A portable screening report is a document that contains all the necessary information about potential tenants in one place. It includes their rental history, credit score and overall background check information. This tool makes it easier for owners to make informed decisions and select trustworthy and reliable tenants.
Portable tenant screening reports have been mentioned in some state laws, for example, the California’s Assembly Bill 2559 states that a tenant can use the same report to apply to multiple properties (hence the name- portable, which basically means reusable). The Colorado House Bill 1099 also addresses this topic.
How does it work?
Usually, property owners have their own procedures for screening and background check, and they often charge fees to applicants for procuring their screening report. But if the portable tenant screening form is approved by the law in your state or city, you can use that for all rental applications.
The validity of a form lasts for 30 days, and you have to pay a one-time fee to procure the report. When a tenant submits their portable tenant screening report, the property owner can still take additional measures for screening. But, they cannot charge a fee to the applicant for procuring another report, if they already have their valid portable tenant screening report.
The only situation where property owners are allowed to charge additional fee for procuring a report, is when they are only considering one applicant at a time for renting out the property. However, even in that scenario, if the deal doesn’t go through, the property owner is obliged to return the amount to the candidate.
What kind of information does it include?
A portable tenant screening form includes your name, contact information, employment and income details, previous address, rental and credit history, criminal history and the date on which the form was procured.
Benefits of portable tenant screening reports
For property owners/managers
Essential information about tenants is compiled in one comprehensive document, which speeds up the screening process. Rental history, credit score, criminal record, and standard background check details are readily available to property owners. Moreover, tenants don’t have to spend much time on procuring separate forms for multiple properties they are interested in.
Property owners often run the risk of having tenants who make late payments, cause damage to the property, or bring legal trouble. By offering details about an applicant’s rental history, creditworthiness, and background, the form aids in identifying potential risks such as late payments, property damage, or legal issues. This information is crucial for minimizing future problems.
A well-structured portable screening form ensures that the tenant screening process adheres to legal standards. It helps landlords make decisions based on relevant criteria, promoting fair and lawful practices.
The form serves as a documented record of the tenant screening process. This record can be valuable in case of disputes or legal matters, providing evidence that decisions were made based on factual information.
For property renters/tenants
Objective decision making
The property owner has access to factual information about tenants without unnecessary details that might create bias. They can compare applicants based on information that actually matters, like criminal record or rental history, rather than gender, race, class and so on.
With such an arrangement, property owners are more likely to comply with fair housing laws and avoid potential discrimination in the tenant selection process. Providing clear information in the screening form helps set expectations for tenants. They understand that their rental history, credit score, and background will be evaluated, encouraging accountability and responsible behaviour
According to a 2022 report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 68% of renters pay application fees while applying for rental housing, which property owners use to cover the cost of tenant screening.
When renters apply to multiple properties, they often have to go through screening and background check processes for each application. Moreover, some property managers charge additional fees for generating the screening report.
The California Apartment Association found that this screening fee can range from $29 to $57 approximately. Imagine looking for an apartment, stressing out about the rent, and having to bear the brunt of these additional fees just to qualify for renting out a house.
However, if the portable tenant screening form has been implemented in that state or city, the tenant can avoid these additional fees. If such a provision is in place, no rental property manager can charge an additional fee for a screening report. They can conduct additional screening if they want, but without charging any fee, as long as you have your portable tenant screening form, which is procured at 30 days ago or earlier.
A standardized screening form provides transparency about the criteria used for tenant selection. Tenants can better understand the information considered by landlords, fostering a sense of openness in the rental process. his clarity helps tenants prepare the necessary documentation in advance, facilitating smooth communication between tenants and landlords.
Ease of application
Having a standardized form means tenants can use the same set of documents for multiple rental applications. This streamlines the application process and reduces the burden on tenants to provide different information for each rental.