October 1, 2009 in City

Service gives tenant control

Screening reports can be reused
By The Spokesman-Review

A Web-based background screening company in Seattle unveils a new “portable” tenant screening report today that was designed with the help of low-income housing advocates in Spokane.

Moco Inc. Vice President Paul Prudente said the report, which puts prospective tenants in control of their own background checks, is the first of its kind.

“It turns the traditional tenant screening model on its head,” Prudente said.

The product, to become available online this morning at www.MyScreeningReport .com, was created in cooperation with the Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium.

“We wanted to eliminate the practice of tenants having to pay for screening report after screening report and then not having money for security deposits or first month rent,” said Cindy Algeo, the consortium’s executive director. “It was becoming a barrier to obtaining housing.”

Traditionally, prospective tenants have had to file multiple applications at considerable expense with property managers who submit the applications to consumer reporting agencies.

My Screening Report allows apartment-seekers to order their own reports, which can be used multiple times by whichever landlords the tenant chooses to share it with.

The new model lets the consumer know what is in his or her report, and even dispute findings, Prudente said. Moco Inc., which merged with The Information Source, a Spokane screening company, in April, authenticates the report’s findings.

My Screening Report also benefits independent landlords, Prudente said, by sparing them the expense of having to be credentialed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act before ordering or receiving tenant screening reports.

Like traditional reports, My Screening Report checks consumer credit, verifies Social Security numbers and searches criminal and eviction histories.

A one-time screening fee of $35.95 for criminal and credit history, plus $10 for employment and landlord verification, is collected directly from the consumer.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email