Background checks for tenants are a long-established requirement for many would-be renters. But did you know that tenants, too, have the ability to conduct background checks on landlords before committing to a rental contract?
Whether you are looking to rent long-term or short, through an agent or independently, conducting a thorough background check on your potential landlord’s history is always a wise choice.
These checks can help you avoid moving into a nightmare situation by steering clear of problematic or dishonest landlords. By accessing public records on their credit and other relevant information, you can find out who you’re dealing with before you commit.
But how can you decide which service to use for your particular needs? Keep on reading to find out about our top choice for running a landlord background check.
Our Best Landlord Background Check Reviews and Comparisons
Intelius is a popular background check service that stands out for the high accuracy of its results. One of the oldest background check services, it has been around since 2003.
Though technically not licensed as a consumer reporting agency, the service allows you to run checks on anyone, yielding their personal contact information, address history, any criminal records, and more.
A subscription to the service is available at a competitive price point as compared to competitor sites, as well as offering users one free (albeit limited) background check.
- Accesses information from federal, state, and country records (including law enforcement agencies), as well as social media
- Sweeps commercial business records and financial institution data
- Reveals court records, lawsuits, and real estate deeds
What We Like about Intelius
Intelius is simple and straightforward to use. Just type in any details you have on the person you’d like to run a check on, and the service will run a search of billions of records to generate a thorough and accurate report on the person in question.
Unlike standard searches, Intelius uses cloud tech to dig deep, uncovering information that can be of particular relevance to tenants, such as past arrests, warrants, and convictions; liens and bankruptcies; and court records.
The site also offers a number of complementary tools that can help round out your background checks, such as reverse phone and address lookups and a public records search option using just the relevant person’s name.
Intelius also has a fairly robust app available for Android or iOS.
What We Don’t Like About Intelius
One of the cons we found with Intelius is that though it does offer attractive pricing, pricing details are tricky to find on the site.
We were also unimpressed with the trial option, which deceptively charges hidden fees for each report conducted during the 7-day trial period, even though membership fees are waived during this time.
Some users also reported issues like unrecognized recurring charges tied to automatic repeat searches or key loggers embedded in phones registered with the service, as well as issues getting in touch with customer service or canceling subscriptions.
- Thorough, accurate, and up-to-date results
- Easy to use, whether on the website or the app
- Affordable pricing options
- Lack of transparency in terms of charges and fees
- Some users have reported issues with customer service
BeenVerified is another well-known background check platform that mines aggregated public data from public, government, and Internet records, as well as other sources, generating a summary of findings condensed into a single report.
BeenVerified also offers users additional tools, including the ability to specifically search property records, which can be highly useful to potential tenants running background checks on tenants.
The service, which lacks a free trial option, is available in two different subscription packages, namely for just one month or three months at a discounted rate.
- Any known information, such as a first name, phone number, address, or even email, can be used to look someone up in a multitude of public records
- A comprehensive report is generated, including any available photos, court records, and criminal history, among others
- Search includes property deeds and details, professional values, and owner info
What We Like about BeenVerified
BeenVerified can use any personal details you have to sweep billions of public records, coming back with any potential matches for the search entry. The user can then choose the report he or she wants to access, along with the relevant information.
One great feature of BeenVerified is the ability to conduct a search even when you don’t have someone’s name in full or at all. Whether it’s a phone number, address, or even VIN number, the service can conduct a search using whatever input data you’ve got.
The platform, also available on a smartphone app, is fairly user-friendly and will even ask you follow-up questions to help narrow results down to the most likely entries, depending on the information you entered.
There’s also a nifty option to remove any data it may have access to on a user through a simple request.
What We Don’t Like About BeenVerified
Unfortunately, some of BeenVerified’s results have been shown to vary in their thoroughness or accuracy. Some users also reported searches getting stuck or completely failing while still in process.
In addition, BeenVerified’s security measures appear to be fairly lax considering the potential sensitivity of the data it deals in.
Another disadvantage is that no free trial is available, and there is no way to see if there are results on the person or property you wanted to check before signing up. So you may end up buying a subscription and coming away empty-handed anyway.
- Multiple ways of searching for records, plus follow-up questions to narrow results
- Solid mobile app for searching on the go
- Specific property search option included
- No opportunity to see if results exist on a search before committing to a subscription
- Some users have noted inaccurate or incomplete reports
Another option for running a background check on landlords is PeopleFinders. The service, while not as comprehensive as some of its competitors in terms of the volume and types of records it searches, is nevertheless one of the more affordable options.
PeopleFinders is a particularly good value if you plan on running multiple checks, providing unlimited searches on the subscription plan. However, unlike many similar services, it also offers the option to pay for a single check, in case that’s all you need.
You can run a search using multiple inputs, including name, phone number, email, and can also add information such as middle names and location details if you have it on hand to help narrow down results.
- Great bang for the buck
- Reliable and up-to-date results, available as a one-off search or by subscription
- Many “extras” in search results, such as neighbors’ contact details
What We Like about PeopleFinders
PeopleFinders allows you to conduct a comprehensive background check with minimal input data. Whether you only need one report or plan on carrying out multiple checks, the service is likely to be one of your most affordable options. It also offers a trial option.
Most users report relevant and accurate results, with records going back over 40 years and including information on relatives or associates of the person you look up, for that extra peace of mind.
PeopleFinders also offers one of the easiest interfaces we’ve seen on background check sites, alongside comparable Android and iOS apps.
What We Don’t Like About PeopleFinders
One thing that didn’t impress us about PeopleFinders is that it doesn’t cull information from social media, which we consider pretty relevant nowadays.
We also noticed that users can incur a cancellation fee, and that the affiliate ads on the site sometimes advertise competitor services (though this is admittedly a minor issue).
- Search functions are a snap
- A fair amount of information is displayed in free search results before you make a purchase
- One-time and subscription options available, plus a three-day trial
- Ability to search not just an individual but his/her relatives or associates
- Social media are not part of records searched
- Cancellation fee
PeopleLooker is yet another easy-to-use option for basic background checks. All you have to do is enter one or more specified parameters, like name, residence, or phone number, and the site will pull up a highly detailed report.
PeopleLooker can generate the typical personal information you’d expect for a background check service, but also offers in-depth information on properties, a plus for tenants. This includes ownership history, tax information, value projections, and more.
One thing that really sets this service apart from competitors is its Court Runner option. For an extra fee, PeopleLooker will actually send someone physically to court to double-check the veracity of any relevant records from the past seven years.
- Highly detailed reports, including in-depth property details
- Available in 1- or 3-month plans, plus a cheap 5-day trial option
- Excellent confidentiality and transparency in terms of data collection and use
What We Like about PeopleLooker
PeopleLooker can be a good option for tenants running a background check on tenants, as it thoroughly scans and cross-checks a multitude of relevant records. While this can take a while, the end results tend to be quite comprehensive.
According to user reviews, even when you only have limited information for your search, the site does a great job identifying the right person and their details and history.
We really liked the Court Runner feature, which is optional and fee-based but can be critical if you need to be absolutely sure of any information you come up with.
We were also keen on the service’s mobile app, available for Android or iOS.
What We Don’t Like About PeopleLooker
It may be true that good things come to those who wait. Though PeopleLooker yields generally thorough results, it does tend to take a while to generate them.
The service also lacks dark web monitoring, which can be a downside depending on how deep you want to dig.
Lastly, some users report a less than stellar experience with customer service.
- Visually attractive and user-friendly interface both on the site and using the app
- Confidential and transparent
- One- and three-month subscriptions available, as well as a cheap five-day trial
- Slow search times
- No dark web or identity theft monitoring
- Customer service record isn’t great
5. Instant Checkmate
Instant Checkmate is another option for running a background check on landlords. While it offers pretty standard search results, its user interface does stand at the head of the pack in terms of aesthetics and ease of navigation.
You can search Instant Checkmate’s databases using a person’s name, phone number, or address, accessing results that include personal details, criminal history, and social media, too.
While results were generally accurate across the board, we found that this service tends to yield better results the more active on social media the person you’re looking into is. We also found some cases where results for people with the same name were merged.
- Intuitive and user-friendly interface that guides you in your search
- Monthly and quarterly plans, as well as a super cheap 5-day trial
- Thorough results that include info from social media
What We Like about Instant Checkmate
Instant Checkmate offers users a nice, clean site with multiple search parameters. We really like how transparent the site is about how information is searched and used.
Another big plus was the dark web scan, as well as a sex offender screening. Another plus is the option to remove any report on yourself that might appear on the site.
We also consider the discount trial to be a great feature, as it lets you try out the service with minimum commitment.
Instant Checkmate also boasts a top-notch A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, so you can rest assured that you’ll be getting the service you’re paying for.
What We Don’t Like About Instant Checkmate
One big downside to Instant Checkmate is that it does not offer any non-paid options, although the 5-day trial is admittedly dirt cheap.
The subscription service is also somewhat pricier than alternative options, though you can save a bit if you opt for the quarterly plan.
We also didn’t find the pricing information to be particularly clear, and we definitely disliked the fact that extra features, such as PDF reports, come with extra fees.
- Criminal records and sex offender search is very robust
- The clean interface on both site and apps
- Quarterly subscription option available at a monthly discount
- More expensive than some comparable alternatives
- Pricing info is hard to make sense of
- Bonus features come at an extra cost
PublicSeek is another popular background check service. The company searches over 10 billion records to produce a detailed report on criminal and financial matters, and can even include things like social media profiles and online dating activity.
While its features and interface are fairly standard in comparison with the competition, PublicSeek stands out in updating its information every 24 hours, to ensure your results are the most current available.
Searches produce results fairly quickly, but it is worth noting that unlike some other options, this service is only available with a paid subscription.
- More or less instantaneous results on background checks
- Thorough results based on continuously updated records
- Customer service available 24/7
What We Like about PublicSeek
PublicSeek is a pretty straightforward service for conducting background checks, with thorough and rapid results. The service is available in a one-month subscription or a two-month version at a slight discount.
Both the site and the companion app update their records every 24 hours, and the app can even alert you when new information relevant to a past search becomes available.
We liked PublicSeek’s 24-hour, 7-day-a-week customer service and billing support, as well as some helpful FAQs to guide users in navigating and using the site.
What We Don’t Like About Instant Checkmate
An obvious downside is that there is no option to pay for a single report, and subscription options aren’t the cheapest out there.
In addition, many users complained about the single-day trial, which some say duped them into automatic renewal, while others reported not being able to access the information they were after during the trial.
You should also note that it is necessary to call or email the company in order to cancel your subscription or prevent your trial from rolling over into one.
- Records are updated on a daily basis
- Results are diverse, including online activity such as social media
- Users are notified when new information relevant to a search becomes available
- Not the cheapest subscription service, and no pay-as-you-go option
- Free trial terms are less than transparent
- Cancellation possible only by a direct phone call or email
TruthFinder is another background check service that offers highly accurate and up-to-date results, including recent contact info. It also avoids overly lengthy results bloated with irrelevant or outdated details.
We also found that the information generated in TruthFinder searches was detailed and easy to understand, whether on the site or using the companion app.
TruthFinder offers a one-month membership or a two-month deal at a discounted rate, as well as a one-month reverse phone lookup plan.
- A solid combination of results from public records and social media accounts
- Multiple search parameters, including reverse phone number lookup
- More extensive results than many competitors
What We Like about TruthFinder
TruthFinder compiles data from a broad array of sources, including job and criminal history, education, and, of most relevance perhaps to tenants, property ownership information.
We also liked the fact that the service offers information on potential or known family members, associates, and friends of the original person searched.
With any membership subscription, you’ll get access to unlimited background checks, and enjoy clear, detailed, and generally highly accurate results.
What We Don’t Like About Instant TruthFinder
Not only does TruthFinder lack the option to pay for a single check, meaning subscription is mandatory to use the service, it also does not offer any trial option to test-drive the service.
Another downside is that the site employs scare tactics through popups advising users against violating FCRA usage terms or warning of potentially graphic or disturbing content.
We were also disappointed by the inexplicable emphasis the service places on horoscopes and other astrological information. We don’t think most people are looking for when they run background checks, and which puts a dent in the site’s legitimacy.
- Offers more detailed reports than some competitors
- Includes social media activity and recent contact details
- No single-report or trial options
- Too many intrusive popup warnings
- Strange emphasis on horoscope and astrological information
8. Check People
Check People is a background check service that only offers one pricing option. However, a subscription grants users unlimited searches which stress ease of use and thorough, diverse results.
You can search with just a first and last name, though adding more info can obviously help narrow down your results. Most users reported high accuracy, although results are not the most detailed when compared to other options out there.
Check People can be a good choice for landlord background checks, as it searches liens, lawsuits, and bankruptcies. The service also has an option for reverse phone lookup.
- One pricing option for unlimited searches with no hidden fees
- Sweeping search that includes social media
- You can also search records on a person’s family and friends
What We Like about Check People
Check People was one of the easiest services to use, producing thorough but not overly detailed results. A nice feature is that you can see all the sources being mined for data as the search is underway.
We also liked how the results were broken down into clearly explained sections. A plus was that the sex offender section searches both the person you enter as well as anyone living nearby for any registered offenses.
What We Don’t Like About Instant Check People
We found Check People to be somewhat below average in terms of accuracy. It is also worth noting that the service doesn’t offer quite as many search parameters as some others do.
As we’ve noted with some other services, searches can drag on, particularly the initial one. Some users also reported stalled or altogether failed searches.
Cancellation is somewhat complicated, as it requires that you call into customer service, which some users reported involved longer than comfortable wait times.
- Straightforward, single-package pricing
- Transparency on pricing, as well as how information is accessed and used
- Affordable 5-day trial option available
- Difficult to cancel – requires calling in
- One of the priciest subscription services for background checks
- Searches can drag, stall, or fail
Choosing among so many screening services can seem a daunting task. But if you’re looking for the best landlord background check, we’ve got a top pick for you.
Our top pick is number 2, BeenVerified. While this service does lack the choice of paying for just a single search, meaning you’ll have to sign up for a plan, it compensates for this by offering a specific property record search.
This is a great choice for tenants who want to ensure their potential landlord and/or rental isn’t a scam or trap. By offering information on property ownership, deeds, values, and more, BeenVerified can help you avoid mishaps… or worse.
We also really like the fact that you can search using even minimal input. You may only have an address or phone number and a first name, so this is a great service to help you screen landlords who don’t generally provide much of their info in public listings.
Lastly, BeenVerified’s companion app is a great option if you’re property hunting and want quick results on the listing or landlord on the fly.
For all these reasons, BeenVerified is our number one pick for the best landlord background check.
What is a landlord background check?
A landlord background check screens available data from public records, such as civil, court, and law enforcement records, to provide a report with information relevant to the property and/or its owner. This typically includes information such as ownership and rental history, bankruptcies, liens, and lawsuits.
Why should I run a landlord background check?
As uncomfortable as it may be, landlords potentially have access to your private life and spaces, considering that they will have spare keys to your rental and know where you live. There is nothing like having the peace of mind that the person in question is an upstanding citizen.
Additionally, the last thing you want is to move into a place with a lien on it, only to find out you’ll have to move out midway through your rental contract. By informing yourself before you commit to signing any papers, you can avoid some serious hassle.
What else should I do to protect myself besides running a landlord background check?
Aside from a background check, it’s a great idea to talk to any current or past tenants, as well as any neighbors, to get the inside scoop on how reliable, trustworthy, and fair your potential landlord may be. It’s also essential that you read your rental contract thoroughly, or even have a lawyer do so for you!