Rent Bureau

Rental history bureaus are among the most valuable resources available to landlords in screening tenants.

Rent bureaus compile and provide information about potential tenants’ past rental behavior to help landlords better predict if they are the right tenants for their property. These bureaus can also perform criminal background checks and identity verification to flag potential problems.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at rental bureaus and how they work. We will look at what information they share, where that information is sourced, and how landlords can apply it to their tenant screening process. We’ll also share a list of the nine most popular rental bureau organizations.

At the end of this guide, we’ll explain how you can conduct affordable tenant screenings quickly and simply using RentPrep’s tenant screening service.

Table Of Contents: Rent History Bureaus

Rent bureaus help landlords understand tenants’ previous behavior and rental history and what that might mean for them as future tenants.

Why Landlords Use Rental History Bureaus

Why Landlords Use Rental History BureausLandlords use rental history bureaus to better understand potential tenants’ past behavior. A check can reveal whether a tenant has a history of paying their rent on time or has previously had any serious disputes with a landlord. Tenants rarely share these things on their applications, and they aren’t found in standard credit checks.

Knowing whether a tenant has previously paid a similar amount of rent consistently over a period of time and whether they have done things such as cause property damage or withhold rent can help landlords make confident decisions about the risk of taking on a particular tenant.

Read our guide to the problems with tenant screening services here.

What Information Do Rental History Bureaus Provide?

Rental history bureaus fill a crucial gap in the market when it comes to reporting on whether tenants have consistently paid their rent. Credit scores don’t capture rental payments, so this is information that landlords can only get from agencies like rental bureaus.

However, this is just one of the many valuable pieces of information that rental history bureaus gather to help landlords assess the viability of potential tenants. The information they collect includes:

  • Rent payment timeliness: Does this tenant have a history of paying their rent on time, incurring late fees, or missing payments?
  • Lease violations: Have they previously been involved in lease breaches or complaints?
  • Eviction history: Have they had any past evictions or legal disputes with landlords?
  • Credit checks: Rent bureaus also provide credit checks through the major credit bureaus.
  • Criminal background checks: Rent bureaus usually check a variety of districts, including sex offender registries.

Rent history bureaus obtain this information from various sources, including previous landlords, property management companies, court records, and even sometimes directly from the tenants.

Due to credit and privacy laws, rent history bureaus need explicit permission from tenant applicants to conduct a check on them and share that information with you, the prospective new landlord. The application process often includes this authorization, and the potential tenant may also be contacted directly by the bureaus for their consent.

You can see a sample of a tenant screening report here.

Are Records Always Accurate?

While rental history bureaus strive to provide accurate information, errors do happen. Tenants can check their reports with rental history bureaus once a year at no charge. If they find any errors, they can address them with the bureau under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Read more about verifying rental history reports here.

How Do Landlords Access Rental History Bureaus?

How Do Landlords Access Rental History Bureaus?Property management companies often subscribe to rental history bureaus for regular tenant screening. As part of their application, prospective tenants will be asked to provide the information needed to complete the check and consent for the check to be conducted for the specific purpose of tenant screening.

Most rent history bureaus charge a per-check charge, which landlords generally pass on to the applicant as an application fee.

The 9 Top Rental History Bureaus

Below is a list of nine of the best rental history bureaus and the type of reports and information provided by each service.

1. AmRent

AmRent is a national resident screening company that provides credit reports, housing court and criminal record data, and identity and employment verification.

  • Credit reports from all three of the national credit repositories
  • Criminal records including multi-state, single-state, and county criminal records and sex offender registries
  • Identity verification to identify potential rental fraud risks
  • Income verification retrieving digital bank statements
  • Housing court records from county courts across the United States

2. AppFolio Inc

AppFolio is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application for property management with integrated services for tenant screening.

  • Credit score
  • Identity verification and identify inaccurate details as red flags
  • Income verification through bank information and active sources of income
  • Eviction history
  • Criminal history

3. Contemporary Information Corp CIC

CIC services the insurance, banking, and rental housing industries with smart predictive housing assessments through public record checks.

  • Multi-jurisdictional database plus sex offender registry criminal record check
  • FCRA-compliant housing records including unlawful detainers and property damage claims
  • Identity verification with cross-referencing for known aliases
  • Legal filtering system that automatically filters all information against criminal and housing restrictions in your zip code

4. Experian RentBureau

The Experian RentBureau is linked with the credit agency and offers extensive rental payment data integrated with credit reporting.

  • Linked with one of the big three credit bureaus
  • 36 million renter profiles from more than 10,000 data furnishers
  • Renter history and payment records
  • Receives both positive and negative data

5. First Advantage Resident Solutions

First Advantage Resident Solutions provides robust resident screening solutions using credit checks, rental history, criminal record checks, and more.

  • Income information on prospective tenants
  • Identity verification to identify potential inconsistencies in application information
  • Credit history from any or all of the major bureaus
  • Eviction reports including initial filings, possessions, and judgments gathered nationwide
  • Tenant payment timeliness of payment database and lease disputes

6. RealPage Inc

RealPage is a property management software solution with integrated data and analytics tools to facilitate tenant screening.

  • Large rental payment history database
  • Information on positive and negative data, including on-time payments, proper notice, and late fees
  • Eviction reports and collection actions
  • In-depth criminal background information, including out-of-network
  • Extensive credit checks from Experian, Equifax, and Transunion
  • Analysis of the applicant pool using AI technology
  • Identity verification to ensure applicants are who they claim to be

7. RentGrow Inc

RentGrow specializes in tenant screening with detailed rental history reports.

  • Credit history
  • Payment history for other rental properties
  • Criminal records and civil court records
  • Employment verification
  • Eviction history

8. SafeRent Solutions

Part of CoreLogic, SafeRent offers tenant screening that includes rental history, criminal background checks, and credit reports.

  • Credit report including FICO Score from Experian, Transunion, or Equifax
  • Eviction and address history including fillings, judgments, relatives’ houses, and informal rental agreements
  • Multi-state criminal data check, both instant and delayed, and multi-state sex offender search
  • Identity verification using multi-dimensional data sources

9. TransUnion SmartMove

TransUnion is linked with the credit bureau and provides comprehensive reporting, including credit checks, eviction history, and income estimates.

  • Resident score
  • SSN identity verification
  • Employment and previous employment verification
  • Credit history
  • Accounts in poor standing
  • Level of debt
  • Recent credit applications

How To Screen Tenants With RentPrep

If you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to screen potential tenants, you can obtain timely tenant screening reports through RentPrep.

This is different from working directly with a bureau because RentPrep has no signup fees, monthly minimums, annual fees, or contracts. You can order one-off reports as you need them. Reports are usually issued within one hour, though some reports depend on your potential tenant responding to an email request for authorization.

We have two options for screening.

The first is to obtain a TransUnion SmartMove Report at a flat fee of $40 per report. The report contains a full TransUnion credit report, a resident score based on other residence and rental information collected by the bureau, and a rental background check to flag any issues, such as evictions and missed rent payments. The tenant must give their explicit consent via email for this report to be produced.

In addition, we provide a standard RentPrep background check, which is included with the TransUnion report or can be obtained on its own for $21. This does not require specific consent from the applicant and includes identity verification with SSN and address history, a nationwide criminal and sex offender search, and a nationwide search for evictions and bankruptcies.

You can also request a judgment and liens check for an additional $7 per applicant and an income verification report for an extra $10.

Read more about how our tenant screening process works here.

Rent Bureau FAQs

Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked landlord questions about rent bureaus.

What is a rent history bureau?

A rent history bureau is an organization that collects and maintains data on tenants’ rental histories. This data can include information about rent payments, lease violations, evictions, and other rental-related activities.

What kind of information do rent history bureaus collect?

These bureaus typically collect information such as timely or late rent payments, lease terminations, evictions, any outstanding debts owed to previous landlords, and sometimes, maintenance requests or complaints.

How do rent history bureaus get their information?

The information is usually sourced from previous landlords, property management companies, court records (in the case of evictions), and sometimes directly from tenants themselves.

Who uses rent history bureaus?

Landlords and property managers commonly use rent history bureaus to screen potential tenants. They help in making informed decisions about who they rent to based on the tenant’s rental history.

How can tenants access their rental history reports?

Tenants can request their rental history report from the rent bureau. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), they are entitled to one free report every 12 months from each of the major rent reporting bureaus.

Can errors on a rental history report be disputed?

Yes. Tenants have the right to dispute any inaccuracies or incomplete information in their rental history report. The bureau must investigate and correct any errors found.

How long does information stay on rental history reports?

The duration varies but is typically around seven years, similar to credit reports. Negative information, like evictions, may remain on the report for this period.

Tenant Screening With Rental History Bureaus

The rental market is becoming increasingly sophisticated, with landlords having more opportunities to make data-driven decisions to optimize their businesses. One key improvement has been making rental history available since this is not covered in standard credit reports. Now, landlords can evaluate data on how consistently tenants pay rent and any previous disputes with landlords.

While there will always be an argument for “going with your gut,” with the data available, landlords are wise to take advantage of the benefits of rental history bureaus.

Note: RentPrep does not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, or accounting advisors.