- Fast and thorough reports
- Reliable company
- Great value with ResidentScore
- Leasing recommendations
- FCRA compliant
- Option to make tenants pay
- Expensive for multiple screenings
- No 24/7 customer support
Ensuring that a property owner has the right tenant is key, as completing the eviction of an unwanted renter is an unpleasant process that can cost thousands when adding up property damage and time wasted. That’s where SmartMove comes in. Created by TransUnion, this tenant-screening service provides fast and reliable reports backed by thorough research and years of expertise by one of the top three major U.S. credit bureaus. Whether you’re a landlord, real estate agent, or part of a property management company, you can count on SmartMove’s credit, criminal, income, and eviction reports to provide you with a clear picture of a future tenant’s background. On top of this, it’s a fairly straightforward service to use and doesn’t require you to commit to a long-term subscription – and even better, the company lets you sign up for free.
SmartMove differs from other background check services as it isn’t possible to search for people by name or address, but instead a screening request is sent to the applicant. In the case of a rental, the tenant gives the landlord an email address and validates their identity to get the process going – ensuring the right person is being screened and avoiding any identity errors. Once everything is correctly set up, up to four different reports will appear on the landlord’s dashboard, accessible with a simple click. Interestingly, landlords get to choose who pays for these reports, a feature unique to SmartMove. However, the service is not tailored only to landlords and can be very useful for renters too. In fact, tenants can also request their own screenings, meaning they can be even more prepared in advance of finding the right rental.
SmartMove’s turnaround speeds are definitely a highlight. It’s impressive how such thorough reports can be generated in only a matter of minutes. Even if a landlord isn’t an expert at interpreting credit information, SmartMove always delivers a leasing recommendation that gives each applicant a stamp of approval (or denial). On another note, it’s also handily independent from working hours – the software is based entirely online and is automatic, which means you can get a screening no matter the time or place.
ResidentScore and Criminal Report
The ResidentScore is a unique feature to SmartMove and is specifically designed by TransUnion for tenant screening. Although it’s part of the credit report, this feature predicts rental performance based on the analysis of more than half a million resident records. This is where landlords also get a leasing recommendation to get a more thorough overview of the possible tenant. To achieve this, the algorithm produces a number between 350 and 850 associated with rejection, conditional, or absolute acceptance.
The criminal report isn’t as thorough as other services but still delivers the most critical information. It inspects over 370 million criminal records and databases, such as the Most Wanted List and National Sex Offender List, to present incidents, arrests, court actions, and sentences straightforwardly.
On top of the very useful ResidentScore, you can also get a more detailed credit report, which presents you with all the data that went into calculating an applicant’s ResidentScore. Considering how a pass/fail score leaves out essential information or can even result in false positives, a full credit report is excellent for making a more accurate judgment on possible renters. As a TransUnion product, it isn’t a surprise how SmartMove is capable of effortlessly displaying past employment, debt, accounts in poor shape, and an entire credit history in an easy-to-read format. Additionally, the report reveals the applicant’s payment history of past loans, giving landlords a clear picture of the tenant’s financial responsibility.
Eviction Report and Income Insights
Naturally, no landlord wants to spend time, money, and resources on a renting process only to have to evict a tenant before their lease is up. While large property companies can afford the cost of an eviction, that is not the case for small companies or even independent landlords with fewer units. Therefore, getting to know an applicant’s eviction history is essential for eliminating these risks, as a tenant who has been evicted before is more likely to face it again.
Finding a tenant with no negative history doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be paid on time, as this also depends on their current financial situation. So, SmartMove has another unique feature to help landlords determine if a tenant can afford the rent in the form of Income Insights. This report checks whether the applicant’s self-reported income matches their financial behavior by estimating the total earnings from both job and non-job income sources. If the results are unclear, SmartMove will tell you the applicant needs additional income verification, thus lowering your risk of accepting a tenant with a vague financial situation.
Ease of Use
The only complicated aspect of SmartMove is how unintuitive the dashboard is at first. Understanding the functions of the many different tabs can take time, but it’s smooth sailing once you do. Signing up to the service is a breeze and can be done in a matter of minutes – likewise, reports are generated much quicker than with other background check services.
You may think that having a mobile app is a must nowadays, but SmartMove more than makes up for its lack of Android and iOS software with a mobile-friendly website. Truthfully, using SmartMove via a mobile browser feels more intuitive and responsive than many mobile apps.
Since it’s a service backed by TransUnion, SmartMove immediately has the upper hand in data credibility. This means landlords will get the most accurate and helpful information – especially in the credit report – from one of the biggest credit bureaus in the U.S., which owns one of the most extensive collections of consumer information and eviction histories. Given the way SmartMove works, there’s no risk of doing a background check on the wrong person – tenants are required to verify their identity and accept the application to kick-start the screening process.
It’s easy to see how reliable SmartMove’s data is and how it can be translated into a more real-estate friendly product. In fact, according to TransUnion’s research, the ResidentScore is 15% more accurate at predicting evictions than typical credit scores and, as a result, way more helpful to landlords.
Security and Privacy
When dealing with your sensitive data – such as addresses and Social Security numbers – you will want to know where your shared information ends up. TransUnion assures renters that their personal information only goes through the company and doesn’t land in the hands of the landlord so that they can use this convenient screening solution completely confidently. There’s also no worry when dealing with privacy and real-estate regulations, as all SmartMove’s reports are compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Not everything’s positive, though, as TransUnion’s privacy center states the company may share your personal information with third parties via encrypted data for advertising purposes. If you want to keep this information private, you must contact TransUnion directly.
Instead of the typical monthly or yearly subscriptions, SmartMove uses a pay-per-use model. Users can choose between three different packages when performing a screening. The Basic plan is the cheapest at $25 and includes the patented ResidentScore and a criminal report. If you wish to get more thorough credit and eviction reports, you’ll have to opt for the Plus package, which costs $38. Lastly, Premium adds Income Insights for slightly more, at $40 per screening.
Considering this pay-per-use model, SmartMove is more cost-effective to landlords requiring few tenant screenings, as purchasing multiple reports quickly increases the bill. Although it’s free to sign up and access the dashboard, there’s no way to test the company’s background checks for free – something we understand when considering how quickly they are generated.
SmartMove provides nearly all resources to customers that need assistance. To begin with, its FAQ and blog are thorough enough to answer any questions regarding the service’s features and mode of operation. If those aren’t enough, the company is also reachable through a phone number – available on workdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST – as well as social media (Facebook and Twitter). Paying users will get an email address for additional support from within the created account, which usually takes 24 hours to get a reply. However you contact them, the company’s representatives are always polite and professional. Unfortunately, SmartMove’s YouTube page is light on content, and the lack of a live chat or any other form of 24/7 support leaves a lot to be desired.
It’s easy to say that SmartMove shines at what it does – putting landlords in the driver’s seat to help them avoid unnecessary risks and make better leasing decisions. It offers a wide range of speedily delivered reports with thorough and reliable information critical to the screening process and produces a better eviction prediction. Using the service multiple times tends to get pricey – even though landlords can make the applicants pay – but owners who manage a small number of properties will get tons of value, even with the cheaper packages. Still, the most expensive options are great for erasing any remaining doubts about possible renters. If you add TransUnion’s excellent credit and real-estate reputation to the mix, choosing SmartMove as your go-to screening service becomes a no-brainer.
Best Background Check Services of 2023
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