Tenant screening services can save Toronto landlords a lot of potential headache down the road. It’s not sexy and it’s sometimes confusing when you are doing it for the first time, but it’s a key piece of being a landlord. This is why we decided to do a review of the best Toronto tenant screening services for landlords in 2016. Whether it is for a furnished or unfurnished rental, there are some things landlords should always, always do before taking on a new tenant. It is a long-term relationship and as a landlord you should not take any shortcuts. A background check is one of the best tools landlords can use to give themselves a better idea of who their tenant is, and ensure their tenancy will not cause any problems. There are multiple options for doing a tenant screening or credit check and some are easier than others. The major difference we found is what else they screen tenants for in addition to their credit score. Checking tenant credit history is the most basic tenant screening you can perform, but if you want to be more comprehensive, you can use some of these services to check other aspects of their background.
Here are some of the best and easiest to use tenant screening service that operate in Canada and can be used by Toronto landlords:
This is a more complete ‘background’ check, meaning they not only check your tenant’s credit score from the Canadian Credit Bureau (ie Equifax or Transunion credit agencies), but they also a criminal check. It’s very easy, you go to this Tenant Screening page, and send an invite to your tenant who will receive a link and fill out their application. Backcheck.ca is set up in a way that the tenant is assumed to pay for the background check (which in Toronto’s fast-moving, seller’s rental market should not be a problem, a good responsible tenant should either provide their own credit score or pay for one to make the proess easier for the landlord). The cost to the tenant is $69. We like this service because it covers more than just the credit score, but of course it also costs more. Also this service is really easy for landlords, you don’t have to send in all sorts of ownership papers before you can get the tenant screening report – we assume this is because the tenant is requesting the screening report with backcheck, and not the landlord
TVS is another website that offers several background checks, which are essentially credit reports from Equifax and Transunion for $21.58, and also a separate criminal check report for $30 – so when you actually look at them together the cost is $51.58 and this combo looks a lot like the service from backcheck.ca. We like the prices on this service, but you do have to provide more info and send in documents as a landlord if you want to get the tenant screening reports. Also for both reports TVS gives you the option of doing a limited credit check easily online that essentially provides you with the tenant’s credit score, or to sign up for a more comprehensive package with which you can see the tenant’s complete report – for this second option you have to have an inspector come and inspect your office (yes in person) because this package is more for property management companies and they want to make sure you won’t use the reports for identity theft.
The last option we found (and it is last because it is our least favourite) is rentcheckcorp.com: The site was built probably in the 90’s and it requires a membership which costs $80 for your first year ($60 after that) to get credit reports for $20 – this is essentially the same price as the other services but they don’t charge an annual membership. We think this is probably one of the first of such businesses that started a while back and has simply stayed the same way, while better services like the two above have started and surpassed it.
As a side-note there are also several other sites that show up quite a bit in search results for tenant screening services: sites ontariolandlords or oligny-thibodeau.com – we found their offerings more expensive and less user-friendly than the first two services.