Due to the massive delays with rental boards, Canadian landlords are feeling especially vulnerable in 2021. As a result, it is very difficult for landlords to deal with delinquent tenants, and it’s not unusual for property owners to lose 6 months of rent or more.
These high risks make it even more important that landlords do a very good job of screening tenants before signing the lease. This helps to minimize the chance of signing on a delinquent tenant.
Luckily, we have researched the top 3 tenant screening tools in the Canadian market (based on popularity) to make sure that you have all the data you need to make a good decision on which tenant to rent to.
You’re looking for a service to help streamline the rental application process and do a better job screening your tenants. With that in mind, here are the features that landlords who are looking to do that should care about most.
When you’re a landlord, ideally you want to see a detailed credit report of everything you need to know to make an informed decision and choose the right tenant. The problem is if you only have limited information that can be tough.
For example, if you only have a credit score, that doesn’t show you the full picture. How good is the rental applicant at making their rent payments on time? Does the rental applicant have missed payments on any of their credit accounts? Without these critical details, you could end up choosing the wrong tenant.
When choosing tenants, you want a credit check that’s fast. In today’s rental environment where there are more vacancies in a lot of markets than in pre-COVID times, if you take too long to get back to a prospective tenant, by the time you’re interested in renting to them, they could have already signed a lease at another place.
To avoid unfortunate situations, it’s important to choose a credit check service that’s fast. Ideally with a service you can find out a tenant’s credit score in less than an hour and be able to make your decision about whether you want to rent to them shortly thereafter.
Have you ever tried to read a credit report and been confused about what you’re looking at? It’s great to receive a tenant screening report in a timely manner as long as you can understand it.
Most credit reports are written in language for lenders to understand, not landlords. You ideally want a tenant screening report that’s already deciphered for you so you have all the information you need to pick the perfect tenant.
Rental applications can be tedious and a pain in the neck, but they don’t have to be. Imagine having rental applicants complete a rental application by hand and then having to key in all the information online to receive a tenant screening report. Imagine doing that for dozens of applicants.
If you’re looking to save time, you’ll want a rental application process that’s automated. By having prospective tenants complete the application online rather than by hand, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and headaches.
One of the biggest fears as a landlord is that you’ll have a tenant who refuses to pay the rent. It might not even be the tenant’s fault. They could be laid off at work due to COVID-19.
Choosing your tenants wisely is more important than ever. In 2021, it can take anywhere from six months to a year to evict a bad tenant. During all of this time you’ll be expected to continue to make your mortgage payments even if you don’t have rent coming in from the tenants.
That’s why it’s helpful to use a service that offers some sort of rent guarantee. That way if the tenants can’t pay the rent, at least you’ll receive some money so you can still make your mortgage payments on time and protect your credit score.
Let’s say all else fails and you need to remove a bad tenant. What do you do? You want a service that provides you with the help and resources that you need to evict bad tenants in a timely manner so that you can get good tenants in your place and keep making the mortgage payments. The last thing you want is to feel like you’re on your own and to have to figure it all out yourself.
When you need help, you want good customer service that responds to your own individual needs. While you’d like to think that you can figure out everything on your own, even the smartest of people need help.
Some customer services leave a lot to be desired. You can wait days for a response or never receive one. Ideally you want to use a service with customer service that is responsive and who answers your questions within minutes or hours.
We highlighted some of the important distinctions between the three screening tools. Find out which one is right for you below.
SingleKey and Naborly have no membership fees and only charge $25 per report; it’s pay as you go. RentCheck has a membership / setup fee of $30 to 75 and then charges $38+ for their tenant report. They are by far the most expensive, but they do offer discounts to various organizations.
For small individual landlords looking for an affordable option, SingleKey and Naborly are your best bet. If you’re a landlord for a living with several dozen doors, that’s when a service like RentCheck can make more sense.
Both SingleKey and Naborly make it very easy for landlords to sign up and place an order. When the report is ready, both of their reports are visual and intuitive to read.
We really like how SingleKey brings the top 4 most important metrics at the very top and displays them as colorful gauges, which include:
SingleKey and Naborly have a tenant application where you can invite a tenant with their email and they will send them a comprehensive Rental Application form to collect their information and consent.
In this form, tenants can also upload proof of income, photo ID, and pet pictures. Rentcheck did not have this functionality.
We have to give the edge to SingleKey here as tenants find it easier to fill out, and many fields are optional.
Lastly, SingleKey also sends tenants text message invites, so they can apply on their phone, making the application process that much easier. That’s why they win this category.
Both SingleKey and Naborly offer this feature – when they invite a tenant to fill out an application, they can choose to have the tenant make a credit card payment at the end. This is a lot better than asking your tenant to pay cash for the credit report, especially during COVID times. RentCheck does not offer this option, which is a real letdown.
SingleKey’s report breaks down the balance owing, and monthly rent payments for each trade. They also include collections and bankruptcy details in the report.
On the other hand, Naborly does not show the trade-by-trade breakdown but instead will roll up their total balances and payments – this seems to be a lower-tiered Equifax Report, making it never very useless. RentCheck also claims to offer a full credit report, and given the higher price point we assume that they have the same level of detail as SingleKey.
SingleKey and Naborly both get their credit information from Equifax, which is the preferred credit reporting agency. With RentCheck you can choose to order an Equifax or Transunion report, or pay extra to get both ($51), which is nice if you want to be extra cautious, but isn’t necessary in a lot of cases.
SingleKey is the only company that includes a Court Record check in their $25 reports, which really sets them apart in terms of value.
This feature provides an analysis of over 200,000 databases from each province looking for criminal records, court decisions, negative press, public biographies, past employment, past addresses, and more. The best part is that this report is done in only 5 minutes, making this the fastest court record check in Canada!
None of the 3 providers include a National Criminal Record Check as part of their standard pricing. However, RentCheck does offer the ability to upgrade to a police check for an additional $60.
This may be worth it depending on how thorough you want to be. If you’re a landlord for a living and renting out places on a monthly basis, this feature may be worthwhile for you. For part-time landlords, it probably isn’t necessary.
SingleKey and Naborly both allow landlords to create an account instantly via their automated enrollment process, making the sign up process super easy and simple. Meanwhile, RentCheck quotes a 4 hour account verification turnaround time. In this category we give the slight edge to SingleKey and Naborly.
The rental market moves fast, so it’s important that your tenant screening can be done quickly, otherwise you could miss out on good quality tenant. Both SingleKey and RentCheck offer almost instantaneous credit check results, while Naborly quotes a 90 minutes turnaround time.
While RentCheck is a trusted company with a long history in this space, since 1976, unfortunately their technology and website design has not kept up with the times. Naborly and SingleKey offer a sleek and smooth web interface and allow for much more functionality for both landlords and tenants. They are cheaper as well, which helps!
Based on the comparison results above, it’s clear that SingleKey is the best credit checking service in Canada. The product wins for 3 main reasons:
Canadian landlords know a good thing when they see one. Singlekey’s tenant screening tool offers the best overall functionality, features, and value. To find out more, head over to our services page. Or, if you have a specific question to ask our team, get in touch!