This article was posted on Friday, Mar 01, 2013

Do you want to avoid costly mistakes when screening your prospective tenants? Read on to discover the secret I recently uncovered while doing a special study to find the best source of tenant information.

The AOA Study

It all started when we decided to retest and make certain that we were still using the best source for the information we provide AOA members for tenant screening. No one had ever put together anything close to the size and scope of this AOA study before. We know this for a fact as some of the source companies told us that they had never provided the scope of information for which we were asking.

As a result of this study, AOA made a major change that we believe no other tenant screening service has ever considered.  Others will follow AOA’s lead but it will take some time and a lot of effort.  Here’s what we did for YOU, our AOA members. We did a study of six of the major sources for information on evictions. Then we ran at least 1,000 different prospective tenant names, so that our research would be statistically accurate. 

The goal was to find the percentage of “hits” each source could produce.  A “hit” is when you discover that a prospective tenant has been evicted.  To our surprise, in addition to identifying the best source, we made a major unexpected discovery!

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The Big Money-Saving Discovery!

You would assume that all sources are the same. WRONG!  They all tell us that they send messengers to the courts and gather information for their files.  So, the logic went, “How could there be any difference?”  But, one prominent eviction attorney estimated that when you run eviction searches, your source will only uncover about 60% of the actual cases. Our study proved that he was close to being right and that there can be a difference of over 100% between companies that are considered the biggest and/or best in the industry. In other words, you could have been missing over a half of all eviction cases! Every file we tested missed some of the “hits” or evictions that other reporting companies had recorded!  Evicted tenants were slipping through the cracks.  You were being tricked when these prospective tenants stated on their application that they had never been evicted.  Can you blame them – they could have had a better than 50% chance of not being found out!!

In examining the various reports, I discovered that the tenants missed by one company would many times show up on a report from another company and vice versa. The data gatherers were not all equal!  I’ll explain in a minute how to use this discovery to improve the accuracy of the information for which you pay good money. We were flabbergasted with the huge gaps that existed in the number of “hits”! 

Credit Headers Work for You

Something else you will find interesting and imperative is a credit header, which is a computer program the eviction companies and AOA use to extract the most accurate information from the data. They start with raw data and then “search” for the exact match for the applicant that you are screening.  They can also show the names of “possible” matches as there are many people with the same name.  There is usually no social security number on eviction reports like you have with your credit report.  However, one of the companies that AOA is now using attempts to match as many social security numbers as possible by using a huge database of additional information.

If you do see a social security number on your AOA Eviction Report, great, just know it isn’t normal and most other tenant screening companies do not provide this information.

Some of these credit headers will use the information on the credit reports to increase the accuracy and number of address matches. Now you can understand why it’s better to order the credit and eviction reports together.  It produces a distinct improvement in helping you screen your potential tenant.

WARNINGWhen you reject an applicant because of a negative report, you are legally required to give them written notification – you can use AOA’s form #140, available in the Members Only area on the AOA website.

Evictions on Credit Reports?

You can also increase the number of hits from your applicant’s credit report as a small number of “evictions”, or judgments awarded are recorded on some credit reports.

Are You Using a False Report?

We found a law firm that was selling credit and “eviction reports” to unsuspecting apartment owners.  They claimed that the credit report was also an eviction report.  No additional eviction file was even being used!  Don’t be fooled by this type of sales information.  In a situation like this, you are probably missing over 90% of the actual cases that have been filed.  I obtained the information from the person who said he was in charge of the reports and he did not even know what he was doing wrong.  They were not requiring inspections or obtaining the compliance papers that the credit companies require.  The owner of the firm did not return my calls!

WARNING: Do not do business with associations or companies who do not require inspections or other compliance information when you obtain an actual credit report that comes directly to you.  They cannot be trusted!

Also, do not allow the tenant to show you a copy of his or her credit report that may be altered unless you double-check them by also obtaining a report from the same provider. There is a legitimate way for your applicant to order his credit report and have it sent to you directly from one of the three credit-gathering companies.  There is also a legitimate way to have your applicant graded from a credit report that you do not actually see.  No inspection is required when you obtain this type of report.  AOA’s ABC Report is an example of this method. Obtain your information directly from a source you can trust.

One eviction recording company owner even stated that “if a file is incomplete or not even pulled, apartment owners will never know”.  It seems that he was absolutely right, but now you and I are some of the few who are in the know.

Be sure to obtain your tenant screening reports only from AOA by calling (800) 363-5296 or you can access the service online 24/7, at  You can trust AOA AND at the same time support your own industry. However, be careful about which association or source you use, as most of those guys are not giving you the most thorough and complete report!

You Can Use This Unique AOA Solution

In doing the study, we combined two eviction reporting companies and presto, the result is a much higher “hit ratio” and does not miss as many of the cases that were formerly slipping through the cracks.  It seems so simple that you probably wonder why no one ever thought of doing this before.  Many owners will obtain two credit reports to ensure that they get as much information as possible, but they have never considered that it is even more important to obtain two eviction reports.  Sooooo … when you order your “AOA Eviction Search”, the information will be coming from two different and distinct files.  It costs you no more than what you normally pay for one report and you will be receiving a report that is taken and put together from two different companies.  An industry first!   I can guarantee you that as I write this, the AOA National Eviction Search is the best and most thoroughly tested report currently available to you. Don’t settle for less, demand the best. 

One more item that is often overlooked: are you obtaining a “National”, “Regional” or just a “State-Wide” eviction report?  Your applicant may not report that they once lived out of state and as a result, they slide by again and you could pay the price of another eviction!  Some reporting companies may only be doing a “State-wide” or “Regional” search since they can save themselves a lot of money.  You get two “National” Eviction reports for the price of one at AOA!  Your credit reports are “National”.  Why shouldn’t the same standard apply to your Eviction Reports?  Call your management company or the source that you use and demand that they obtain the most thorough tenant screening information.  Get the “National” credit and eviction reports from here on out! Don’t be misled with a cheap “Regional” report.

Does all this “guarantee” that you will never rent to an unqualified applicant again?  No, but you will sure come a whole lot closer to that goal as a result of using this new AOA National Eviction Report!  Please know that even with all the work and research, some evictions will still be missing, and you’ll also need to confirm that the name matches.

Are You Getting Complete Credit Information?

Are you obtaining only one credit report?  We’re going to make it easy for you to do the best tenant screening job by using two reports, but first let me tell you a true story: Just recently, an AOA member obtained two credit reports.  TransUnion showed two recent lines of credit and no FICO score – as a result he got an “F” rating.  Experian reported six lines of credit with a FICO score of 730, which gave the applicant an “A” rating. This owner accepted an “A” rated applicant that you or I may have turned down if we had obtained only one report!

What made a difference is that the companies the applicant was doing business with were reporting to Experian – it could have just as easily been the other way around.  Both Experian and Trans Union are excellent reporting companies.  Combine the two along with two evictions reports and you’ll have one of the best screening tools on the market!  This will give you a much better chance of finding the right tenant.

Why Pull a Criminal Report?

Let’s suppose that you rent Apt. #3 to Mr. Jones. Six months later, Mr. Jones breaks into Apt. #6 and steals a valuable coin collection, or worse yet, he rapes the tenant who happened to be sleeping at the time of the break-in. The police arrest Mr. Jones, but the tenant comes to you and wants to know why you rented to him in the first place.  Did you run a criminal report on him?  If you answer, “no”, the tenant may sue you for not using “due diligence” in protecting the tenants in your building.  “This guy has spent half of his life in prison.  He was dangerous and you should have known it!” If you screened him for past criminal activity, your tenant will have a hard time blaming you.

Let’s face it – California does not have enough money to keep all the criminals locked up.  I predict that there will be a big increase in applications from criminals.  I don’t believe that most owners want these criminals living next door! Your solution: Order an AOA “4-Star Tenant Report” for only $15.95.  It includes an Instant Nationwide Criminal Search and you’ll be able to say that you did, indeed, properly screen your tenants – no matter what they might do in the future. (You can add a second credit report for an additional $5.)

All I Can Say Is “WOW”!

Isn’t it great that you can belong to an Association that does so much to help you make and keep more of your money than ever before?  An Association that is dedicated to making your business of providing housing more profitable, easier and more enjoyable?   AOA’s superior tenant screening service is just one of many reasons that you and others have made AOA one of the largest individually organized groups of apartment owners in the whole state of California over the past 30 years.

It can be very unpleasant and costly to have the wrong tenant move into your building, especially when it is so easy to avoid.  AOA is definitely here to assist you in becoming as successful as possible in all that you do.  This unique AOA tenant screening method is just one small way that we serve you better. You can get all this up-to-date screening information at the same low cost! Just check out the prices on our website at

You Can Get Two For The Price Of One

The AOA eviction research really is a “WOW” and the first for our industry.  And just think, it costs only $10 now for two legitimate eviction reports, the ABC Tenant Credit Score and a credit report from either Experian or Trans Union.  Also included is a search on: 1) the most wanted criminals, 2) National Sex Offender, 3) the terrorist list and 4) the OFAC/Patriot Act, which also lists narcotics traffickers and money launderers.  You can add the second credit report for only $5 additional. This report will really help you find the right tenant.

You will probably agree that any owner who is aware of this information is “almost crazy” or just asking for trouble as they risk wasting a lot of time and money by not using this “unique and enhanced AOA Tenant Screening Report”!!  Order the 4-Star Report and you will also get the National Criminal Report. You can get your report direct from your friendly AOA operator at (800) 363-5296 or via the internet at  AOA is truly “The #1 Source for the Apartment Industry!”

Bottom Line

In order to properly screen your applicants, it is recommended that you always pull at least an AOA 4-Star Report on every serious applicant. If you want to be even more certain that you find the right tenant, consider a second credit report or the totally thorough 5-Star Screening Report!

Thank You!

Thank you for giving all of the AOA staff another opportunity to serve you with “the best of the best” in tenant screening services since 1982.  If there is any other way that we can help you make your job of providing housing more profitable, easier and more enjoyable, please call us right away.

P.S. Do you realize that you will now be getting two eviction reports for the price of one? Also, be sure to check out how much you can save on the Exclusive AOA Group Insurance plan.  I’ve already personally saved a ton of money! You can visit them at one of our trade shows or call (800) 227-7434 and ask for the AOA group rate for insurance. You can also request a quote online, just visit and click on Group Insurance. You will discover how to save yourself a bundle!

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