The tenant screening process typically begins when the prospective tenant (each adult applicant) completes a rental application, pays an application fee and perhaps a holding deposit.
Rental applications are designed to collect personally identifying information (name, social security number and date of birth, etc.), address, employment, criminal and eviction history. A signature is generally required, attesting to the accuracy of information provided, agreeing to certain terms and conditions and authorizing procurement of a tenant screening report.
Valid government issued photo identification is typically required to confirm the identity of applicants and in compliance with the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC's) identity theft Red Flags Rule.
Most landlords rely on a tenant screening company to produce a tenant screening report - to compile relevant credit, public records and other information needed to adequately vet prospective tenants. Information gleaned from the application, tenant screening report and the landlord's own research is used to arrive at a decision based on landlord's rental criteria.
Tenant screening reports contain one or more of the following elements:
Consumer credit report (with or without a score) - from one of the three national credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax or Transunion).
Eviction records search
Criminal records search
Sex offender registry search
Specially designated nationals search (frequently referred to as an OFAC search)
Recommendation - based on the landlord's criteria (parameters)
Credit reports and database searches are often returned instantly via secure web sites. Additional information resulting from more in-depth public records searches, rental references and employment verifications can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.