The Bottom Line: Yardi’s ScreeningWorks tenant screening service, which no longer offers a self-serve option, is not worth going out of your way for. While things may have changed since being folded into Yardi’s broader property management software platform, we found the quality and depth of their reports to be whelming.
Note: The below review was conducted prior to ScreeningWorks being removed as a self-serve option in late 2019.
ScreeningWorks offers a simple 100% online tenant screening service on a pay-as-you-go basis. Sign-up is free and takes less than 15 minutes. Singing up does require you to provide your own legal name, legal address, and social security number because Experian Precise ID is used to verify the identity of all users. This does not affect your credit score.
When you sign up for their newsletter and promotions, you receive a 10% off promotion for your first tenant screening. Direct tenant participation is not required. Simply provide your prospective tenant’s DOB, SSN, legal address, and legal name to do a screening.
ScreeningWorks offers only one package and options can’t be purchased separately. The package includes an eviction report, criminal report, and credit evaluation. There are 9 states as well as Washington D.C. that you do not receive a criminal report for as well as 2 states you do not receive an eviction report for.
The credit evaluation contains no actual credit report and simply puts the prospective tenant into one of three broad categories predicting the risk that the tenant poses. It does not provide a leasing recommendation. Results are received in 90 seconds or less. The only exception to this is that the criminal report specifically may be held for up to 24 hours while a Public Records Team cross-checks information if matches are found.
Additionally, prospective tenants are searched for in the National Sex Offender database as well as the OFAC’s listing containing terrorists, people considered threats to U.S. interests and security, and people involved in organized crime such as narcotics trafficing. ScreeningWorks also does a social security fraud check for all screened tenants.
ScreeningWorks Sign-Up Process
Lease Default Prediction
When screening potential tenants, there is a lot that goes into the process of deciding if a tenant is right for your property or not. It is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly and it all basically comes down to predicting the likelihood of the tenant being reliable versus the tenant being a risk to your property and your profit.
ScreeningWorks provides you with a very simple assessment of a prospective tenant’s likelihood of defaulting on the lease. They score each tenant as having either minimal credit risk, elevated credit risk, or serious credit risk. This simple scoring system makes the results as easy as possible for you to understand. Of course, it is also rather vague and doesn’t get as specific for each prospective tenant with only 3 broad categories.
- Minimal Credit Risk – Generally a person that pays their bills on time and has no unpaid/unsettled debt. Occasionally, someone may receive this score if they have a debt of less than $100 or 1-2 late payments. A person with this score may also have no credit history established.
- Elevated Credit Risk – Generally a person with a pattern of late payments and/or a moderate amount of debt. Typically, they owe debt to multiple credit agencies. This person does have credit established showing these details.
- Severe Credit Risk – Generally a person with multiple patterns of late payments and a significant amount of debt owed to multiple credit agencies. This person also has credit established showing these details.
While the risk level assessment provided is rather vague, the process that is used to determine the risk level is very sound taking advantage of RentGrow’s 20+ years of experience in the field of evaluating the credit of millions of potential tenants. RentGrow’s ScreeningWorks focuses on things within the credit report that are known predictors of tenant reliability and leaves out factors that are known to have no correlation with tenant reliability.
ScreeningWorks Risk Evaluation Factors
Factors Taken Into Consideration:
- How recent credit problems are
- Types of credit problems
- Amounts of money involved
- How late payments were
Factors Left Out:
- Medical debt
- Credit problems over 3 years old
- Credit problems that have been paid off
- Closed or discharged bankruptcies over 6 months old
The entire process of providing you with a risk level assessment is tailored to best predict tenant behavior based off of credit information. Since ScreeningWorks has an excellent system for risk evaluation, but then provides only an oversimplified and vague score of that evaluation, they get a 5/10 for lease default prediction.
It is certainly worth noting that in some cases – typically cases of elevated or serious credit risk – ScreeningWorks provides a reason for the score received. Usually this is just a simple explanation without details. For example, a serious credit risk may include a reason such as, “high level of late payments”.
A credit report provides a snapshot of a person’s credit behaviour. They are used across almost all industries to help businesses – big or small – make important decisions about people that they choose to work with. Unfortunately, ScreenWorks does not provide an actual credit report at all.
Instead, they do a credit check and use that information to provide the risk level evaluation as described above in the section on lease default prediction. Alongside the risk level evaluation results, you will sometimes find a reason for the score. This is information that basically is a very vague summary from the credit report. For this reason, ScreeningWorks receives a 1 out of 10 for the credit report.
ScreeningWorks Credit Evaluation Sample
Will the Credit Check Impact the Prospective Tenant’s Credit Score?
There are two different kinds of credit checks – what is called a hard credit inquiry and what is called a soft credit inquiry. Since a hard credit inquiry can negatively impact your credit score, it is an understandably common concern about whether a credit check will impact the credit score.
ScreeningWorks does do a hard credit inquiry when checking a prospective tenant’s credit. This can have a negative impact on your prospective tenant’s credit. The benefit to doing the hard check is that you don’t actually need any direct participation from the tenant. This, of course, means that you can get your results much faster without worrying about when the tenant may finish their part of an online screening application.
One of the number one predictors of future evictions is past evictions. If a tenant has been unreliable in the past, it is reasonable to expect them to be unreliable in the future. As far as the eviction history report goes, ScreeningWorks gets their highest score in this category scoring 8 out of 10.
Overall, ScreeningWorks does an excellent job with the eviction report. The only problem, which can be pretty relevant, is that all states do not have instantaneous eviction data readily available. For these reasons, ScreeningWorks leaves both New York as well as North Dakota completely out for eviction reports. The eviction report does include all other states as well as Washington D.C.
For their eviction data, ScreeningWorks searches databases for landlord/tenant cases that are currently filed and/or pending as well as for judgements both monetary and non-monetary. Basically, they search through cases that have been closed as well as new cases that haven’t been finished yet. If something comes up for your prospective tenant on the eviction report you will get a report for each case found that contains the following:
- Name of the defendant(s)
- Name of the plaintiff
- Particular comments on the case
- Filed suits or petitions
- Judgements for completed cases
It is important to understand who you are renting your property to. You don’t want a criminal in your property possibly damaging it, causing issues and possibly even posing danger to other tenants and/or neighbors. The criminal report that you get from most tenant screening services helps you avoid just that.
Due to the way this data is stored in many states as well as laws in certain states and the way that ScreeningWorks retrieves this data, there are many states left out of the criminal report. With so many states being left out, ScreeningWorks scores a 4 out of 10 for their criminal report. States that you DO NOT get a criminal report for with ScreeningWorks are the following:
- Washington D.C.
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
All states not listed above do come back with a criminal report from ScreeningWorks. The reports that ScreeningWorks does provide are thorough and well-organized, which is why it was able to get a 4 out of 10 even with leaving such a considerable number of states out. The criminal report from ScreeningWorks typically includes the following information about each case found:
- Disposition date
- Arrest date
- Case number
- Name of the defendant
- Defendant’s date of birth
- Defendant’s race and sex
This information is only provided when available, of course, and can vary by what each state provides. It is important to note that while the majority of the ScreeningWorks report is returned in 90 seconds or less, that the criminal report can take up to 24 hours. The reason for this is because if cases do come up that match your prospective tenant, they will be reviewed and cross-checked by ScreeningWorks’ Public Records Team to help ensure accuracy. In this case, you will get the results in 24 hours or less.
In addition to the normal background check, ScreeningWorks also checks the National Sex Offender Database for prospective tenants as well as the OFAC. The OFAC or Office of Foreign Assets Control is a financial intelligence agency that acts as part of the U.S. Treasury Department. They keep track of known terrorists as well as anyone that is considered to be a threat to the United States and its interests and security. You may also have an applicant flagged by the OFAC if they are/were involved in trafficking narcotics or other organized crime.
Finally, the ScreeningWorks criminal report checks for social security fraud. Any social security number that belongs to someone that is known to have passed away will be flagged. Social security numbers that have been issued in the last 5 years are also flagged as they are likely to belong to children. This helps to lessen the chance of accepting a tenant that is committing identity theft.
ScreeningWorks SSN Fraud Check
Information on a tenant’s income can be very helpful in making a leasing decision. Unfortunately, ScreeningWorks does not provide any type of income information and therefore, they get a 0 out of 10 score for this category.