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Looking for a Free Rental Background Check? 5 Top Services

Sifting through rental applications takes time and effort for independent landlords, pulling you away from the more rewarding parts of managing your properties. However, skimping on screening tenants can have expensive consequences down the road. 

Many independent landlords try running basic web searches on applicants or rely on their gut instinct to avoid paying for background checks. Yet public records only reveal a part of the picture, and these oversimplified searches can let some poor-fit tenants through the cracks. 

What you really need are thorough, accurate reports on prospective renters. But how can you get these robust background checks without spending a fortune? The answer, of course, is free background check services. 

This post explores the option of free rental background checks. We’ll discuss how you can find the right tenant screening service for your properties, then cover five top options that offer free background checks for property managers. 

Finding a Trustworthy, Free Rental Background Check Service 

Finding the right tenant for your property is crucial. The only way to ensure you have a responsible, good-fit tenant is by conducting rental background checks. But what exactly is involved in a rental background check, and why is it so important?

A rental background check is a process of verifying information about a potential tenant, including their credit history, criminal record, employment status, and rental history. This information can help property managers make an informed decision about whether or not to rent to a particular individual.

There are several reasons why background checks are essential for property managers:

  • Avoid poor-fit renters: Thoroughly vetting potential tenants can weed out those who may not be a good fit for your property, such as those with a history of evictions or property damage.
  • Keep your community safe: Background checks can reveal any criminal history, helping you ensure the safety of your other tenants and the surrounding community.
  • Protect your property: Renting to a tenant with a history of property damage or neglect can lead to costly repairs. A background check can help you avoid these headaches.
  • Understand the financial history of potential renters: Credit checks can give you insight into a tenant's financial responsibility, helping you select tenants likely to consistently pay rent on time and in full. 

Related Read: 5 Questions to Ask Potential Renters to Improve Your Application Screening Process

Despite the importance of rental background checks, many landlords fail to conduct them. 

  • Less than half of DIY landlords conduct sex offender checks
  • Barely 50% of them conduct criminal background checks or contact past landlords for references
  • Almost a quarter of these landlords often also skip credit checks

It’s hard to believe property managers still skip this crucial step, with the horror stories of landlords who relied on their gut instinct or the word of a friend and ended up in a sticky situation. In one case, a landlord rented to a "friend of a friend" without conducting a proper background check, only to discover later that the tenant had a history of evictions and property damage. The result? Thousands of dollars in repairs and lost rental income.

Another landlord learned the hard way that appearances can be deceiving when a well-dressed, seemingly affluent man applied to rent an apartment, claiming he needed immediate housing due to his wife's recent death. The sympathetic landlord expedited the screening process, forgoing crucial steps like a background check, only to discover later that the tenant had filed for bankruptcy before signing the lease, allowing him to live rent-free for seven months while his case was in court. 

And, to no one’s surprise, it wasn’t the squatter’s first time using rental application fraud to get free lodging.

You know you need a reliable background check service, but with many services charging $30 or more per screening, your tenant screening costs can quickly get out of control. How can you find the best free rental background check service? 

  • Conduct online research: Reading blog posts (like this one) can help you understand the ins and outs of rental background checks and what to look for in a service.
  • Review online testimonials and reviews: Look for feedback from other property managers who have used the service you're considering.
  • Network with other property managers: Ask for recommendations from property managers you know and trust to find a service that has worked well for them.

By taking the time to find a reliable, free rental background check service, you can protect your investment and ensure a safer, more successful rental experience for everyone involved. Don't let yourself become another cautionary tale – prioritize thorough background checks for every potential tenant.

With this in mind, let’s examine our list of five top free rental background check services, giving you the information you need to find the best fit for your property management needs. 

1. Apartments.com 

One free rental background platform you may consider is Apartments.com. This well-known provider offers a range of property management tools to help landlords and property managers streamline their operations. 

Some of Apartments.com’s key features include:

  • Online rent collection: With Apartments.com, you can collect rent entirely online for free, saving you time and hassle. This feature streamlines the payment process and makes it more convenient for both landlords and tenants.
  • Lease creation: The platform offers tools for creating leases online, simplifying the leasing process and reducing paperwork.
  • Applicant screening: Apartments.com provides basic applicant screening tools to help you evaluate potential tenants. However, the platform may not offer comprehensive background check services, which could be a drawback for some landlords.
  • Maintenance request management: Apartments.com helps you streamline rental maintenance requests, making tracking and addressing tenant concerns easier.

While Apartments.com offers a range of useful features, it may not be the most cost-effective solution for property managers with larger portfolios or more complex needs.

Overall, Apartments.com is a solid choice for property managers looking for an easy-to-use platform with basic rental management features. However, if you require more advanced tools or comprehensive background check services, you may want to consider other options or explore integrations with third-party providers like Intellirent.

2. MyRental 

MyRental is a tenant screening solution designed to help landlords, real estate agents, and property managers identify qualified applicants. The platform offers a range of features to streamline the rental application and screening process.

Key features of MyRental include:

  • Free online rental application: MyRental provides a mobile-friendly online rental application that allows prospective tenants to submit their information on any device. The application includes details such as the number of occupants, applicant contact information, income and employment history, address history, and preferred move-in date and lease term.
  • Optional tenant screening: You can choose to add a tenant screening request to the rental application, either alongside the application or after it has been submitted. 
  • Comprehensive screening reports: MyRental offers a range of screening reports, including a credit report, housing court data and address history, multi-state criminal and sex offender checks. With the applicant pay option, these screening services are free to landlords.

While MyRental provides a comprehensive suite of tenant screening tools, it may not be the best fit for landlords or property managers who require a full-fledged property management solution. The platform focuses primarily on tenant screening and does not appear to offer features such as property listings, lease management, or maintenance request tracking. 

Related Read: 7 Expert Tenant Screening Tips to Streamline Your Leasing Process

3. Stessa 

Stessa is a comprehensive leasing and tenant screening solution designed to help landlords and property investors find, screen, and sign the best tenants for their rental properties. The platform offers a suite of tools to streamline the leasing process.

Key features of Stessa include:

  • Vacancy marketing: Stessa simplifies advertising your rental vacancies by using the information already stored in the platform to create listings. These listings are then syndicated to Zillow's family of websites, ensuring maximum exposure to high-quality tenants.
  • Tenant screening: Stessa integrates with RentPrep's comprehensive tenant screening reports, allowing you to make informed decisions about prospective tenants. The screening process includes a full credit report, eviction and criminal history, bankruptcies, judgments, and liens. 
  • Legal documents and eSigning: Stessa's paid Pro plan offers a library of 60+ legal documents, including leases and tenant notices, ensuring you have the necessary paperwork to secure good tenants quickly. The platform also integrates with DocuSign, providing a seamless and industry-leading eSigning experience. 

While Stessa offers a robust set of leasing and tenant screening features, it may not be the best fit for landlords or property managers who require a more comprehensive property management solution. 

The platform primarily focuses on the leasing process and does not offer features such as rent collection, maintenance request tracking, or accounting tools. Additionally, some advanced features, such as legal document templates and eSigning, are only available through the paid Stessa Pro plan.

4. TurboTenant 

TurboTenant is a comprehensive rental property management software designed to help landlords streamline their entire rental process. The platform offers a wide range of tools to assist with finding and managing tenants.

Key features of TurboTenant include:

  • Property management marketing: TurboTenant allows you to create a listing in less than 10 minutes and push it across dozens of popular renter sites to collect high-intent leads.
  • Tenant screening services and reports: The platform offers a thorough tenant screening process, helping landlords vet potential renters and gain insight into their financial, criminal, and eviction history. 
  • State-specific lease agreements: TurboTenant provides a tool to simplify creating and adjusting leases, ensuring compliance with your state's laws. 
  • Integrated accounting software: TurboTenant offers a built-in accounting feature that syncs with your rent payments, automatically tracks property expenses, and generates tax reports.

While TurboTenant offers some advanced rental property management tools, it may not be the best fit for landlords who require more advanced features or customization options. The platform primarily focuses on the core aspects of rental management and may not offer the same level of flexibility or integration with other systems as some of its competitors. 

5. Intellirent 

Intellirent is a specialized leasing solution focusing primarily on the application and screening process for rental properties. Unlike other property management software that may include these features as an add-on, Intellirent's core priority is to streamline and optimize the tenant screening and application experience. This targeted approach allows Intellirent to provide a more comprehensive and efficient solution for tenant screening.

Key features of Intellirent include:

  • Customized online application: Intellirent offers a tailored online application process that collects the information you need to make informed decisions about potential tenants. 
  • Credit and background reports: With Intellirent, you can instantly access comprehensive credit and background checks from TransUnion, one of the nation's most trusted providers.
  • Renter Resumes™: Intellirent's Renter Resumes™ feature allows you to easily compare applicants side-by-side, streamlining the decision-making process and helping you select the most qualified renter for your property.
  • Professional property listings: Intellirent assists in creating attractive property listings in minutes. These listings can be published on your website and popular listing sites to attract high-quality renters. 
  • Centralized collaboration: Intellirent's collaboration tools keep your leasing team organized and efficient by centralizing communication and file management. 

Intellirent is a top-tier solution for rental applications and tenant screening, but it does not have many of the other property management features like maintenance tracking and rent collection. As a result, Intellirent is best used as a free add-on to a property management platform like Yardi or RentManager. 

The Best Free Rental Background Check Service for Landlords 

The five solutions listed in this post all offer rental background check services that landlords and property managers can benefit from when screening tenants for their properties. Though all five solutions have their benefits, no solution will be the best fit for every property manager. 

If you're looking for an easy-to-use, always-free solution that delivers reliable tenant screening reports, TransUnion credit checks, and customizable online applications, give Intellirent a try. Our platform is designed to streamline your rental process and provide the insights you need to find the best tenants for your properties.

Create your free Intellirent account today and discover how our powerful features can help you manage your rental business.

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