After digging through their reports, our review team had mixed feelings for TransUnion SmartMove’s tenant screening services. Their Basic report doesn’t stack up well to other reports in the same price range, but their premium report, while pricey, received some of our highest ratings in the industry. If you’re willing to spend more per report, SmartMove is worth a consideration.
Read further to learn more about the basics of how TransUnion SmartMove works, or skip ahead to our reviews of each of the 3 report types they have to offer:
- SmartCheck Basic ($25/report) – 5/10
- SmartCheck Plus ($38/report) – 8/10
- SmartCheck Premium ($40/report) – 9/10
How it Works
SmartMove boasts that it offers an ‘instant’ report, but this isn’t exactly the case. Information is processed instantly, but the speed at which you get your final report has a lot to do with the tenant.
That’s because SmartMove has the landlord working very closely with the tenant. Though some might be uncomfortable with that level of tenant involvement, it is critical to how SmartMove works.
Here’s the process that a landlord and tenant must go through to receive information and reports through SmartMove.
- The tenant provides the landlord with an email address.
- The landlord sends the tenant a renter screening request through their TransUnion SmartMove account.
- The renter receives the screening application request to the email that the landlord entered. The tenant can choose to accept or decline the screening.
- If the renter accepts the request, their credit and (applicable) criminal records are released to the landlord through SmartMove. The landlord also receives an evaluation and a leasing recommendation based on income information, eviction history, and the ResidentScore.
- The landlord can approve or decline the tenant through SmartMove. Tenants are entitled to copies of their reports if they request them.
The level of tenant involvement may not appeal to all landlords, especially ones that enjoy having control over every aspect of the tenant screening process.
As we said above, SmartMove is technically an instant service, but the speed at which landlords receive tenant reports relies on how quickly the tenant receives their email and accepts the request. Should the email get lost, ignored, or go to the spam folder, a landlord may never receive the report.
While this may be a drawback for some landlords, some also find it to be a good way to determine if a tenant really wants to rent a property. If they cannot go through the appropriate steps (or pay the application fee, if that’s the option the landlord chooses), then renting to them is out of the question.
On the other hand, tenant screening where the tenant is not involved is completely under the control of the landlord and can help fill rental units quickly. Which option is best is, of course, up to the landlord.
Identity Verification and Leasing Recommendation
These two features go hand-in-hand when using the SmartMove service. Essentially, the service requires the tenant to submit their social security number in order to verify their identity. This information is never revealed to the landlord or any third party.
This means that landlords won’t have to use any additional identity verification services. All of the information is guaranteed to belong to the tenant, as the screening services work with more than just names and previous addresses.
Another thing that SmartMove includes in its core package is a leasing recommendation. No matter which package of the three packages you choose, SmartMove will always tell you whether they believe you should lease to the tenant or not. This information is based on an algorithm that includes all of the tenant’s credit and financial information. It also includes an income-to-rent ratio for the landlord’s consideration.
Of course, the final decision always lies with the landlord. SmartMove does not issue approval or denial messages to the tenant based on their information. The service only offers a suggestion to the landlord, and the landlord is under no obligation to follow it.
TransUnion offers landlords three packages, which we will explore below. We’ll rate them based on the following information.
Predicts Tenant’s Ability to Pay
This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of tenant screening. A tenant can tell a landlord about their income, but until there is some income verification or other means to make sure the figures the tenant is providing are accurate, a landlord can’t truly know that a tenant isn’t going to have trouble making the rent payment on time.
Other factors that can influence this outside of income are debt, credit score, and other monthly obligations that a tenant might have.
Predicts Tenant’s Likelihood of Criminal Activity
Having access to criminal records can be important during the rental process. Landlords want to know if prospective tenants have violent crime charges, or if they distribute or use illegal substances. Not only can these acts drive down property values, but they can also negatively impact the tenant’s ability to be a good tenant and keep up with rent.
Predicts Tenant’s Likelihood of Eviction
Evictions are messy, expensive, and time-consuming. They can lead to damage to the property, lots of legal fees, and other problems that no landlord wants to deal with. By looking at past evictions, a landlord can make a reasonable estimate on whether or not this is an issue they might face with a potential tenant. Some landlords tote that this is the single most important factor to consider before renting out a property and purchasing an eviction report can save everyone a lot of hassle later on.
Accessibility/Ease of Use
When a report is easy to obtain, easy to access across devices and can be easily read and interpreted by a landlord, it’s going to carry much more weight in the landlord’s final decision. This rating is based on whether the report is easy to read, simple to use, and easily accessible from multiple devices.
Tenant Pay Options
Lastly, at each of the three pricing tiers listed above, the landlord can choose to bill the tenant instead of paying for the report themselves. The option is included when the report is ordered, so there are no hoops to jump through.
Some landlords may find that this option becomes a separate tenant screening metric. If the tenant is serious about renting the property or unit, then they will likely want to pay this amount. This can help the landlord decide who to rent to.
Allowing the tenant to pay for the screening directly makes it easier for everyone involved, especially landlords. Tenants can be billed directly for the service rather than having it go through as a fee added to the application process, which is extremely convenient.
Now let’s take a look at each of the different packages SmartMove has to offer.