Most tenant screening services only work to protect the landlord from bad renters, but SmartMove by TransUnion is a service tenant can use to protect their information while providing potential landlords with what they need to make a decision.
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SmartMove, which launched in 2010, is a secure platform where a renter can enter personal information and the system then delivers screening reports to the landlord without sharing personal information, like a Social Security number, with them. It keeps private information secure.
TransUnion is one of the top three credit reporting bureaus in the United States so it is recognized for security and professionalism. You can be assured it and all of its products will abide by federal and state laws in protecting your information.
What is SmartMove?
Transunion SmartMove is a way for tenants to provide landlords with information without sharing vital information that they’d rather keep private. That way renters don’t have to put sensitive information on their lease application and won’t have their credit score hit as hard.
Landlords who want information on a possible renter just sign into SmartMove, enter the applicant’s email address, and the prospective tenant is sent a screening invitation. The tenant fills out the necessary information and a report from MySmartMove.com are delivered to the landlord.
SmartMove won’t share things like Social Security numbers or bank account numbers with a landlord.
What are the pros and cons of SmartMove?
There are several advantages to using SmartMove as you fill out leasing applications and a couple of disadvantages as well. While the pros are aimed at helping tenants provide information securely, the cons are related to how the platform can be a negative for many landlords. Both are listed below.
- Easy process. The process is a simple one for both the landlord and tenant. It is completely web-based so getting it done is as simple as a few clicks. SmartMove handles the actual paperwork so that takes the burden off the landlord. The sign-up for the landlord is simple too.
- Keeps information secure. Tenants may be more apt to rent from someone as long as they don’t have to provide a lot of private information. They may like the idea of doing it without a lengthy application and background check. Both aspects may attract more renters.
- No impact on credit score. This is a positive most people who are renting will love. With this tenant screening process, the credit check is a soft one. That means their score won’t be affected, which can be important if they are trying to get a new job or are saving for a house. Many landlords do a “hard pull” of credit and that can decrease a person’s credit score. Some may not want to rent from those with this kind of requirement.
- Fast. A landlord can get a screening back as quickly as 10 to 15 minutes if the tenant applicant fills it out right away.
- Lacking criminal information. At least five states have laws where criminal reports are not included on these types of screenings. Those states are Delaware, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Massachusetts. South Carolina is headed that way. Landlords in those states will get a less complete report unless they are willing to pay more money to the state to get a Consumer Reporting Agency, like TransUnion, to retrieve the data.
- Lacking eviction history. While SmartMove provides a credit report, it isn’t a background check so things like evictions may not appear on the report. Two SmartMove packages include national eviction reports but they could miss some because of how evictions are filed.
- Stalled process. A big part of the SmartMove system relies on the tenant applicant to fill out the screening questionnaire. The problem is about 30% of tenant applicants never fill out the SmartMove reports.
What are the best features of SmartMove?
There are plenty of things to love about SmartMove. Below are a few of the benefits.
Provides credit score
Landlords all have different metrics they use to choose tenants, one of which is the credit score. Landlords want to see a full credit history with a credit score, and SmartMove provides that. It gives a complete look at the person’s financial history so landlords can decide if they’ll make the right tenant for their rental.
Tenant pay option
SmartMove offers a feature that allows the tenant to pay for the report. This removes the extra cost of obtaining the report off of the landlord, reducing the hassle and cost for them. This option isn’t available with similar platforms.
How much does SmartMove cost?
There is good news and bad news that come with discussions over cost. The good news is that it’s free to sign up. There are no subscription costs, no setup fees, and no lengthy applications that landlords must use to get started.
SmartMove is on a pay-per-use pricing system, which is also good news. That means you only pay for it when you use it. There isn’t a minimum or a maximum number of times you can use it in a month or a year.
Now for the bad news, the full report is more expensive than some other services, so running lots of applicants through can get expensive. Here is a breakdown of pricing and what is offered in the SmartMove three-tiered system:
This costs $25 per screening but it only includes two aspects;
- Credit-Based Resident Score
- National Criminal Background Check
This plan costs $38 per screening and it includes the things of the basic report plus two other things:
- Full Credit Report
- National Eviction Report
This package is $40 per person and it includes one more thing beyond what the first two packages include:
- Income Insights
What kind of customer support can users expect?
Those using SmartMove can expect excellent customer service. The company publicizes its telephone number so that both landlords or tenant applicants can call and speak to a SmartMove customer service representative about your account, technical support, or other concerns. (The phone number is 1-866-775-0961).
What are the benefits of SmartMove?
There are two primary benefits of using SmartMove:
Landlords who don’t have the time to file for an extensive background report on all their potential tenants will love SmartMove. All they have to do is send the screening invite to the applicant. The only other thing they may want to do is call the applicant to let them know the invite has been sent in case it winds up in the spam folder.
Tenants like it because it is easy to fill out and they know that personal information, like their Social Security numbers, will remain private. That protects their identity in case they are applying at several rentals.
Landlords are constantly trying to lower their costs and having a pay-per-use method is a good way to do that. Also, you can add a feature for the tenant to pay for the screening as part of their application process so there wouldn’t be any out-of-pocket cost.
What are the disadvantages of SmartMove?
Using SmartMove has two primary disadvantages. They are listed below.
No liens reported
The three major credit bureaus began removing tax liens and judgments from their credit reports in July 2017 after the National Consumer Assistance Plan was created.
SmartMove, owned by TransUnion, will not show tax liens or civil judgments. That makes it hard for landlords to really know the true background of any applicant.
It is a known fact that any instant credit report has a higher probability of errors than other more thorough reports that require fingerprinting. Simply put, criminal reports from a computer database aren’t always accurate. That is why they aren’t used for employment screenings.
What if I didn’t get an email request from a landlord?
The screening invitation could have gone to your email’s spam folder, so check there. Be sure to put SmartMove and the landlord on a white list so this doesn’t happen. You can also call the landlord to inform them you haven’t received it. That way they know you are assertive in your professional dealings and serious about renting from them so that could make a positive impression on them.
What if I don’t want to release my information?
You don’t have to answer the invitation. When you get the invite, there are two options to either confirm and proceed or decline and cancel.
Will the landlord be charged for every screening invitation even if they don’t answer?
No, there isn’t a charge to anyone if either the potential tenant or the landlord cancels the process before the actual screening. That means if the landlord finds a renter before the screening of another applicant, they can cancel it and not be charged. Also, tenants that cancel requests will not pay for the invite and neither will the landlords.
Who will have access to my information?
Renters grant access to landlords. They’ll be able to see all of the renter’s credit and criminal information, but no one else can access the information. TransUnion is highly protective of people’s personal information and has taken all measures to secure it.
What do landlords actually see in the report?
Landlords see things that relate to a tenant’s ability to fulfill a lease obligation. This means they can see a renter’s credit and criminal records that are available through major credit reporting bureaus like TransUnion and nationwide public reporting systems.
While every landlord is looking for great tenants, the landlord will not see some judgments, tax liens, Social Security numbers, or bank account numbers.
How accurate is the Income Insights report?
Income Insights is based on historical credit data and provides only an estimated income. Recent job changes, promotions or unemployment may not yet be part of the report.
What happens if the landlord doesn’t like what he or she sees on the Income Insights report?
A landlord can’t use the Income Insights report to decline a renter’s application since it is only an estimate of income. However, they could use it to ask for additional proof of income. Many landlords will ask for that anyway as part of the rental application.