Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Screen Test: Integrated Screening Increases Compliance and Streamlines Costs for Multifamily Managers

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Screen Test: Integrated Screening Increases Compliance and Streamlines Costs for Multifamily Managers

Article excerpt

Fifteen to 20 years ago, assessing the risk of admitting a prospective resident into a multifamily community was not a particularly streamlined or comprehensive process. Credit bureau reports were the primary source of applicant data. Screening companies had emerged to help bring consistency and structure to the process, but for the most part, these services were delivered manually and had minimal automation.

As time passed, however, real estate managers sought additional ways to maximize rental income with reliable renters, minimize risk and comply with the Fair Housing Act, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines. Toward that end, they sought to create a more complete, and therefore more accurate, risk assessment model. One barrier was a data infrastructure not sufficiently advanced to allow easy access to criminal and civil records. Eventually, court networks and data aggregators developed systems and interfaces, making national registered sex offender lists, documents in the Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control, civil court eviction records, criminal court records, rental history records and other potential sources of information about prospective renters available to multifamily property managers. As one indication of criminal screening's growing importance, online resident screening service provider, RentGrow, Inc., reports that the portion of its clients using criminal screening as a rental decision criterion has grown from 15 to 95 percent over the past 10 years.

Within the last several years, as property management state-of-the-art technology evolved to encompass a "one-stop-shop" concept, comprehensive resident screening services have the capability to be fully integrated into a core property management and accounting system. This convergence was part of a growing trend among multi-family housing providers to reduce costs and increase efficiency by standardizing business-wide on a single technology platform, thus consolidating many ancillary processes and services, and minimizing the number of technology vendors. …

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