With the Experian RentBureau® rental payment data, we knew we had an opportunity to standardize our resident screening process. We wanted to automate the process as much as possible, to achieve consistent results, reduce response time for our applicants and, naturally, reduce costs. We wanted the process to include fully automating the verification and scoring of an applicant’s rental history to avoid the labor-intensive process and make things more efficient.
When we started working with Experian RentBureau, one of the things we found — really the key — was that the process of sharing data was very simple. On the reporting side we just continue to operate as we normally do — collecting rent, posting payments, processing our daily transactions — not really doing anything different than we would do otherwise. Every night we transfer all the relevant data to Experian RentBureau directly from our system.
On the screening side, we really didn’t have to change that much either. We always used rental history as a screening input, but now that we have access to the detailed rental payment data, it allows us to automate the process and consistently score the applicant’s history, making the process that much more efficient.
We get access to the data from a very large pool of other owners, which makes the results of the data that much more comprehensive. The result is that we have a more efficient and consistent screening process. Today about 65 percent of our applications require no additional manual verification, which allows us to complete the application process more quickly. Additionally, it frees up time of on-site teams to take care of revenue generating activities and to take care of our residents and leasing apartments.
Integrating rental payment data into our screening process has also helped reduce skips. We all know that when someone is skipping and they go to rent somewhere else, they almost never include in their application that they are living at the place that they are skipping from. Using the Experian RentBureau information really helps us prevent those individuals from re-renting at another community without clearing up their rental account with us.
On the collections side, we have a lot of examples where we don’t have to contact former residents, they contact us to clear up an outstanding balance when their rental payment history appears in connection with trying to rent another apartment. So, it absolutely does work.
Additionally, we are confident in not re-renting to our own residents who may owe us a balance, since the rental data is always current. When there is a large balance at another community in which they currently live and they have applied at another community of ours, we know that we need to get that previous rental account cleared up before we can approve the application at the new community.
We regularly see applicants who either have lived or still do live at one of our communities, and having the rental payment data allows us to either quickly give credit to good residents or identify the residents that still owe us money.
We are getting better, more consistent screening results with a more efficient process. We are very happy to be able to consistently score rental history in a way that is most useful to us.
We’ve also seen the added benefit of our collections potential through the timely reporting of residents’ payment history. We’re absolutely able to improve our collections on those residents who leave owing us a balance.
One of the big things is we’ve given our on-site teams more time — they’re not spending their time processing applications and doing rental verification — which allows them to focus on the activities we really want and need them to focus on: leasing more apartments and taking care of the residents. We have seen some very positive benefits, and we’re very happy we’re using Experian RentBureau rental payment data.
How can the availability of rental payment data be improved? In a word: more! We’d like to see rental payment data for all our applicants. We think it has benefits for ourselves, our applicants, our residents and the industry as a whole. Reporting rental payment data can only be a good thing, not only for ourselves but the entire industry.