How to charge for a background check when your applicants are cash and you are offsite

  1. I want to do background checks

  2. Many people living in the park are cash types, some are check, but many have no card, so the “self screen” option just wouldnt work, let alone the fact many dont have email either.

  3. I do not live near the park, and dont really want the manager to collect the money (cash/check) either.

How should I handle this?

Are we talking to screen applicants, or current residents?

What payment options does your background vendor offer? I use Buildium and they complete/pay directly with the website. Saves me handling cash and being responsible for the PII on the background application.

If a tenant doesn’t have a credit card, you can require that they go to the grocery store and get a prepaid Visa or Mastercard. They can use it to pay for the background check. If they don’t have access to the internet, and if your background check company is like mine where they send an email/link to the prospective tenant, get your prospective tenant on the phone, create the application in the background check company’s user interface and use your email in place of the tenant’s email (because they don’t have one). Once you receive the email, follow the instructions (there will be a set of questions that need to be answered)… communicate the questions to your prospect and have them answer… then, when it’s time to pay, have the prospect provide you with the prepaid credit card info for payment. Once complete, you’ll get an email - log into your your account and you’ll be able to access the result.

At least in the states we operate, I’d be careful with the approach of filling out out an application over the phone. Perhaps the call could be recorded with the other parties consent, but that may or may not meet legal requirements.

My suggestion would be to have them fill out a paper copy with proper consent signatures on-site, which they or your onsite manager could scan or take photos of and send to you. At that point you could input the prospects information and use their prepaid credit card for payment. I would always get a signature on consent to run credit and background history prior to running it, otherwise you could end up in a lot of trouble.

As an alternative to the prepaid credit card (if you use Rent Manager and Zego) you could issue them a pay card number and they can use cash at a Walmart or other facility to pay the application fee.

@onlinefun If tenants do not have a credit card, or a bank account, I would actually advise that they may not be the ideal tenant, as if they can’t get those, they likely won’t respect your systems or rules (coming from someone who owns parks in low income areas).

But to solve the current problem, here’s a system that I use for tenants with no cards, bank accounts and non-tech savvy:

  1. Get tenant to get a prepaid visa or MasterCard at the nearest CVS/Walmart/Gas Station/Grocery station. It helps if you can identify the nearest place to the park that offers this and tell them to go there, make it easy to follow. Have them get one for $50 (or whatever the application costs and round it upwards).

  2. Have them return to the park, and have the on-site manager help them fill out an application at the office with a third party. Put the email down as your or your manager’s email, and have their real phone number in the application form. You can also scan documents here for them, such as pay-stubs, ID’s, whatever you may need for the application process so it fixes the issue pf the non-tech savvy tenants sending you papers really well.

  3. Run your screening process as usual, and accept/deny/do your thing as it’s usually done from there with your standard timeline/procedure.

This has the advantage that it rules out the manager handling money, it rules out non-tech savvy tenants, makes the application happen the same day and also covers your liability because they’re signing a waiver or agreeing to having their credit/background/info be collected and checked when doing the application at the office. Could even have them sign an extra one page document stating they’re allowing on-site manager to help them with the application, etc.

Only pitfall with this procedure is that you’re not making money off of the application, since it’s all going to the third party. You could possibly have them collect a payment with Stripe or one of those card readers that you can plug to phones and you can charge them a higher flat fee for the whole service, and then your management company/park LLC can pay for the application process for them and that way you can profit some.

Issue is that you will 1) Have to set it up 2) have the manager trained on that system 3) buy the equipment 4) extra accounting work to reconcile these costs 5) all of this for possibly $10-15 dollars per person. Personally I like the systems to be easy and simple for the manager since you don’t always get the most capable personnel and have to make due with what you have.

Hope this helps!

Its all relative. I have thirty tenants, maybe 5 have checking accounts. of the rest, half pay cash, half pay with money orders. It’s not that they can’t, and they are mostly on time (rent is about $300 with water and the late fee is $35 after the 5th). It’s just the way people think here…