Track your rental property performance for FREE

Learn More

13 Low-Cost Tenant Screening Services for Property Owners

man working on laptop
by Jeff Rohde, posted in Investment Strategy

One of the biggest potential risks of owning a rental property is having a tenant who will not pay the rent on time. Fortunately, the best tenant screening services can help to minimize the risk of renting to a tenant who can not or will not pay the rent in full and on time each and every month.

Key Takeaways

  • Tenant screening services provide landlords with background information on prospective tenants.
  • Common tenant screening reports include a credit report, criminal background check, and an eviction history report.
  • Tenant screening fees range from $14.95 to $49.95 depending on the company and screening reports provided.
  • Most tenant screening companies allow the landlord to require the applicant to pay for tenant screening.


What is a Tenant Screening Service?

A tenant screening service provides landlords and property managers background information on a prospective tenant. Reports provided by a tenant screening service can include a credit report, employment history, rental history, criminal background check, and miscellaneous reports such as an SSN (social security number) verification.

Information collected when screening a tenant provides a landlord with information about the tenant who will be renting the property, and can also help a landlord predict whether or not the tenant is qualified to rent the property.

For example, a tenant with a good credit score may be more likely to pay the rent on time and take better care of the property, two traits that can make a renter great. That’s because the tenant does not want a mark on their credit report due to a late payment or an eviction. 

On the other hand, a tenant with a history of changing jobs frequently may be less likely to pay the rent on time due to long periods of extended unemployment.


man doing work on computer

Best Tenant Screening Services

These are some of the most well-known and low-cost tenant screening services for landlords to consider. With most tenant screening services a landlord can request that an applicant pay the fee to be screened.

Tenant screening companies are listed in alphabetical order:


The American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA) was rated by RentSpree as one of the best tenant screening services. Reports are available to both members and non-members, with packages including a credit report, criminal background check, and eviction history. Prices range from $19.95 to $49.95 each.


Tenant screening service from Avail was rated as having the best price by The Balance. Avail specializes in providing tenant screening to smaller landlords with 10 properties or less, and also has packages for property owners with larger portfolios. Credit, criminal background, and eviction checks are $30 each and can be bundled together for $55.


BetterNOI is rated by Investopedia as providing landlords with the best criminal background search. The tenant screening company adheres to FCRA, OFAC, and Fair Housing compliance. Landlords can contact the company for current pricing plans.

Cozy (now recently merged with to give landlords the option for marketing rentals, accepting applications, screening tenants, online leasing, rent payments, and streamlining expenses and maintenance. Background check and credit report packages range from $24.99 to $39.99.


E-Renter is rated as providing the best value in tenant screening services by Investopedia. Although the price points are not the lowest, the company’s Basic Plan includes an array of reports including criminal record, bankruptcy, lien, and judgment searches, and sex offender search. Plans from E-Renter range from $19.95 to $34.95.

Experian Connect

Although a tenant credit report from Experian Connect costs just $14.95, the service does not include a criminal record search or a dedicated eviction history report. Applicants are asked by Experian to verify their identity, then pay for the credit report and grant a landlord access to it. 

First Advantage

First Advantage offers landlords the best tenant screening service, according to Investopedia. The broad range of services combined with the company’s human review process help to minimize the risk of identity errors. Landlords need to contact First Advantage to discuss their credit reporting needs before being provided with a quote.


Tenant screening company LeaseRunner is ranked by The Balance as having the best à la carte services for landlords. Instead of requiring a landlord to pick and choose between packages, individual reports such as a credit report, nationwide criminal report, financial, and nationwide eviction report may be purchased for between $10 and $20 per report.


MyRental by CoreLogic Rental Property Solutions provides landlords with a variety of tenant screening reports including criminal background checks, address history, multi-state criminal record searches, and terrorist reports. Pricing packages range from $24.99 to $34.99 per applicant, and reports can also be purchased individually.


RentPrep is rated by The Balance as offering the best overall tenant screening services for landlords. Screening reports include a background check, address history, SSN verification, nationwide eviction data, and information on liens, bankruptcies, and judgments. Pricing packages range from $18.95 to $38.00.


Tenant screening reports from SmartMove come directly from the TransUnion credit bureau, including a credit-based resident score, national criminal background, national eviction report, and an Income Insights report. Pricing plans range from $25 to $40 per tenant screening.


TurboTenant is used by over 300,000 landlords for property management, marketing, and tenant screening, according to The Balance. The company works with landlords with up to 100 rental properties, and offers à la carte tenant screening services with prices ranging from $35 to $45.


Tenant screening from VeriFirst is ranked as the most comprehensive by Investopedia due to instant reports, simultaneous screening of applicant and guarantor, and integrated services like debt collection. The company does not allow applicants to be charged for tenant screening, and landlords must contact VeriFirst to receive a quote for tenant screening services.


woman at spreadsheet

Common Tenant Screening Reports

There are a variety of reports a landlord can review when screening a tenant, depending on the tenant screening service used. 

After receiving and reviewing information on an applicant, landlords verify the information provided by contacting current employers and previous landlords to validate the data as part of the routine tenant screening process.

Some of the most common tenant screening reports include:

Credit Report

Some tenant screening services provide a full credit report with a three-digit FICO score while others only offer a summary in the form of a credit report card with a FICO credit score range. Credit scores can range from 300 to 850, with a FICO score of 850 being the best possible credit. 

However, landlords often use a credit score along with other information concerning the applicant rather than making a decision solely on the tenant’s credit score. That’s because a credit score can be significantly impacted by a negative credit event, such as losing a home due to foreclosure. 

Other times, the neighborhood the rental property is located in will affect the credit quality of prospective tenants. If a home is located in a lower-income area where tenants live paycheck to paycheck, having an applicant with a late payment on their credit report might be the norm instead of the exception. 

By using a tool like the Roofstock Neighborhood Rating, a landlord can better understand the characteristics of the neighborhood based on key data points such as employment rate and school district quality. Based on neighborhood characteristics, a landlord can set better expectations for expected credit score ranges of prospective tenants to keep vacancy rates low.

Other data points to look for on an applicant’s credit report include debt levels, amount of revolving credit such as credit cards, car payments, medical bills, and student loans.

Criminal Background Report

Tenant screening services combine data from each state to generate a nationwide criminal background report on a prospective tenant. 

Because criminal data ties into an applicant’s name and date of birth (instead of Social Security number), it can be more difficult for a landlord to determine an applicant’s criminal behavior due to a data mis-match.

To make the most of a criminal background report, a landlord can:

  • Verify the name and date of birth (DOB) on the tenant’s rental application are correct by asking for a copy of a photo ID such as a driver’s license or state identity card.
  • Compare any criminal records to the applicant’s rental history report showing previous addresses to verify that the prospective tenant lived in the same city during the time that the criminal offense occurred.
  • Order a state or county criminal background report on a prospective tenant that may provide more detailed information on criminal activity than a nationwide report.

Landlords and property managers must take care to follow local, state, and federal laws when screening a prospective tenant. 

For example, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has published guidance suggesting that only criminal arrest records that lead to a conviction may be used to deny a tenant. Landlords who turn down an applicant based solely on criminal history and not conviction may be guilty of violating the Fair Housing Act.

Eviction History

Also known as a rental history report, an eviction history tells a landlord if an applicant has ever been forcefully removed from a property. 

There are three reasons that a tenant moves out of a rental property:

  • Tenant paid the rent in full and on time and moved out voluntarily when the lease expired.
  • Tenant willingly moved out after being served with a Pay or Quit Notice by the landlord for non-payment of rent, or agreeing to a cash for keys program.
  • Tenant was forcefully evicted after the landlord went through a formal eviction process and received a court order allowing the tenant to be removed from the property.

Of these three reasons for a tenant moving out, only a court-ordered eviction will show up on an applicant’s eviction history. That’s one reason current and previous landlords are contacted during the tenant screening process to learn more about a prospective tenant’s behavior. 

In addition to non-payment of rent, a tenant may also have been evicted for consistently paying the rent late, damaging the property beyond normal wear and tear, conducting criminal activity on the property, and refusing to move out (or holding over) after the lease expired.

Other Tenant Screening Reports

Some tenant screening services offer a full range of reports for one inclusive fee, while others offer à la carte pricing based on the needs of each landlord. Other types of tenant screening reports include:

  • Income verification to corroborate information provided by the tenant on the rental application.
  • SSN (Social Security Number) verification to ensure that an applicant’s SSN is valid.
  • Bankruptcy, judgment, and lien searches.
  • State and county criminal background reports to help substantiate information on a national criminal background report.
  • Nationwide inmate and sex offender registry searches.
  • Terrorist link search.


Wrapping Up

Landlords use tenant screening services to help minimize the risk of renting to a tenant who can’t or won’t pay the rent, or who may destroy the property. Common tenant screening reports include a credit report, criminal background report, and an eviction history or rental history report. The best tenant screening companies also comply with state and federal tenant screening guidelines and laws.

Find this content useful? Share it with your friends!