Portable Screening Reports: What You Need to Know

Portable tenant screening reports allow renters to get their credit and background checks done once, and then share that report with multiple potential landlords. Discover the information in these reports, how landlords should verify the report data, and which states have laws regarding the acceptance of these reports.

Nichole Stohler
Last Updated
May 22, 2024
Portable Screening Reports: What You Need to Know

In August 2023, Colorado became the first state to enact a law requiring landlords to accept portable tenant screening reports. But what exactly are these reports? How do they function, and what information do they contain?

In this article, we'll provide an overview of portable tenant screening reports and cover the current state laws surrounding their use. Both tenants and landlords will gain an understanding of portable reports and know what to expect when using them. Ready to learn? Let's dive in!

Understanding portable screening reports

Portable tenant screening reports (PTSR) let people looking for a place to rent get their own credit and background checks done. They can then share these reports with multiple landlords instead of going through separate screening processes for each rental application. 

The main advantage for renters is that they can submit the same report to different landlords without paying extra application fees each time.

Information on portable screening reports

A proper and complete PTSR covers the following areas to help determine if the applicant would be a suitable renter:

  • Identity verification: Confirms the applicant's name and date of birth to verify their identity.
  • Credit history: This shows the applicant's credit score and payment history on bills/debts to assess financial responsibility.
  • Employment history: Lists current and past jobs to evaluate if they have enough income for rent.
  • Criminal records: Discloses any criminal convictions that may raise concerns for the landlord.
  • Sex offender status: Checks whether the applicant is registered as a sex offender.
  • Terrorist watch lists: Verifies the applicant is not on any known terrorist watch lists.
  • Social security verification: Confirms the applicant's social security number to prevent identity fraud.
  • Income information: Details the applicant's income amount and sources to determine whether they can afford rent.

Avoiding tenant screening fraud

These portable reports can provide screening details for tenants, but landlords should protect themselves against potential document fraud. Here's how:

1. Examine the report 

Look at the report for errors, anomalies, or inconsistent information that could raise concerns. Check for gaps in employment or rental history, unexplained periods of inactivity, or conflicting information across different sections. 

Pay attention to details such as dates, addresses, and names because even minor inconsistencies could indicate potential fraud or manipulation of information.

2. Verify information independently 

Confirm details of the report through independent verification. Conduct your own background checks using a third-party website or contact the applicant's employers or references directly. 

3. Conduct additional screening measures

A PTSR is a valuable tool for a landlord to have in their toolbox, but you should make sure you have other tools as well. Use additional screening measures such as in-person interviews or make requests for supplementary documentation to support the PTSR's findings.

4. Contact former landlords

The report includes details about the applicant's rental history, but you should also contact their former landlords directly. Seek their feedback on the prospective tenant, such as their reliability in paying rent and overall treatment of the rental property.

5. Stay informed about industry best practices

The tenant screening industry is constantly changing, with new regulations, technologies, and practices emerging regularly. Make it a priority to stay updated about the latest developments in the industry.

Attend seminars, join professional organizations, or consult with experts to make sure your screening processes comply with applicable state and federal laws.

States that allow reusable tenant screening reports

Several states have passed laws allowing future renters to provide landlords with reusable tenant screening reports. General guidelines include:

  • Time limit: The report must have been generated within a specific timeframe, usually 30 or 90 days.
  • No application fees: If a landlord accepts a reusable consumer report, they can't charge the renter an application fee.
  • Material changes: Landlords may ask about any major changes to the information in the report since its creation.

States with laws around PTSR reports from a consumer reporting agency

  • Colorado: Landlords must accept portable tenant screening reports.
  • California and Illinois: Both states encourage landlords to use a portable tenant screening report, but it is not required.
  • Maryland: Requires landlords to notify tenants of their right to provide a portable report.
  • Rhode Island: Tenants can leverage their reusable report for up to 90 days, and landlords cannot charge additional application fees.

Portable tenant screening report

Portable tenant screening reports offer a convenient solution for renters applying to multiple properties. Landlords should exercise caution and not rely solely on these reports. Verifying information independently, conducting additional screening, and staying updated on best practices are important steps to reduce potential risks.

As more states enact laws surrounding these reports, both parties need to understand the specific regulations in their area. Tenants can leverage the reports to save time and fees, while landlords can view them as one component of a comprehensive screening process to find suitable renters.

Their effectiveness depends on the diligence of tenants providing accurate information and landlords properly vetting applicants.

Portable tenant screening report FAQs

Can you deny a tenant for criminal history in Colorado?

Colorado landlords can deny a tenant based on criminal history, but they must comply with fair housing laws that protect against discrimination.

How to do a tenant background check in Colorado?

To conduct a tenant background check in Colorado, landlords typically obtain the tenant's consent and then use a reputable service to check criminal history, credit reports, and eviction history.

What is a screening report?

Landlords use screening reports to evaluate a potential tenant's background, including their rental history, credit, and background report.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of NicsGuide.com, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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