Good websites/companies for eviction reports? Best way to screen tenants?

My realtor recommends having tenants bring credit reports with them, rather than charging an application fee. But what about eviction reports? I am more concerned about evictions than whether or not they always pay their credit cards or car notes on time.

Besides an eviction report, I believe that proof of income and cosigners are most important. If they don’t pay or trash the property, having proof of income from the tenants and cosigners makes collection much more likely.

I’m trying to get a good system in place and would appreciate input.

What companies offer inexpensive eviction reports?

What should I focus on most when screening a tenant?


We run background checks thru out county Sheriff’s dept. It catches any legal issues they’ve had in the county for civil and criminal issues. We can tell if they’ve had things like domestic violence, criminal mischief, speeding tickets, vandalism, etc. It also brings up evictions. The problem is that some LL’s won’t follow thru with evictions so there are people out there who got behind on rent and the LL just told them to leave and then nothing is ever filed. So nothing is foolproof. All you can do is try your best to screen for what you can.

We deal with low income people so I expect their credit to be trash. In the beginning, I checked into those services where you could get either a credit decision or pull someone’s credit report. What I learned was in order to actually pull someone’s credit report, you had to have a lockable office to store the reports. You had to pay a fee for someone to come out and inspect your office. If you didn’t have that, all you could get was a credit “decision” where the company would look at the people’s credit report and then give you a decision where they think you could rent to the person, but get a bigger deposit or a cosigner - or even just don’t rent to them. I didn’t want another company making that decision for me because it’s not their property…it’s ours.

We have an application people fill out with the normal stuff like name, address, phone number, date of birth, current address, current employment info, etc. We also have them put date of birth, car tag #, SS#, etc on the lease too.

For people who work and will be paying the rent themselves (our non-Section 8 tenants), I want to see proof of income for 3x the rent amount.

The background checks we run cost us $10 per person so we charge a $15 app fee for one adult and $25 for two. I take $5 of that for gas and the rest goes to the background checks. The other stuff is just a matter of a couple phone calls.

Once again, I don’t really care about credit reports. Many of these people have poor or no credit anyway. I agree with you that the other issues are much more important.

There are several online companies offering background checks and things like that, but I like just doing it thru our local county. Most people are going to stay in the same area because that’s where their job or family are located so you’re going to catch most of the issues like that.

I had that done. It ain’t that big a deal. I passed with a lockable file cabnet in the closet of my masterbedroom and a lock on the bedroom door.

True. I didn’t think it was too much to deal with either. Once we found out about the background checks we could get with the applicant’s consent and realizing most of these people’s credit was going to be horrible, I abandoned the idea of credit reports.

Thanks for the input.

So the main things I should focus on are income (3x rent), criminal record, cosigners, and calling current employers and former landlords.

I will see about what is available through the county.

I like to look up business phone numbers online to verify I’m calling the right place and not the applicant’s friend who is pretending to be their boss. I also don’t care much about talking to the current LL because some people will say anything to pass the trash.

One thing I should mention is that I don’t think it is a great idea to rent to people on Section 8 or SSI, because you can’t garnish government benefits if they trash the property. I wouldn’t shy away from renting to retired people on Social Security, though.

While checking a landlord reference last week, I called the lady and asked two simple questions. First, I asked for how long they had been renting. She gave an answer different than what was on the application, but whatever. Second, I asked about the address where the renter had lived. She said “Oh S#$!. Can I call you back in 10 minutes”. I told her that was ok, and thanked her for her time. It seemed pretty clear that the reference was fake. I decided to go ahead with their application, because the other signer has a high enough income through wages, and I verified that he has had the job for about 7 years. I am fairly confident that I can garnish the wages if problems arise.