Origin Story - Why we started a Tenant Data Company

By Brian de la Motte, Partnyr Founder and CEO

The Problem

When I became a landlord, I knew nothing! Over time, I learned that doing your due diligence BEFORE renters move into your property is the most important step you can take as a landlord or property manager. The best renters can stay for years, take care of your property, and be a great neighbor to everyone. The worst renters can do thousands of dollars in property damage, and be the reason people move away from the neighborhood! I learned that tenant screening is actually a pretty tedious and time consuming process. Sure, there's some follow-up and maintenance needed once the renters have moved in, but, the bulk of the work is up front. The hardest work is finding and vetting good tenants.

If you talk to other landlords or property managers, they all have their own criteria and all screen slightly differently. However, most good managers will usually check the following on the people applying:

If they are on top of their game, they'll reach out to previous landlords or property management companies and try to see how their experience was with the tenant.

Let's just say in a perfect world, the screening process takes you a couple hours per applicant but you have several applicants. That requires a lot of time!

It also introduces a lot of opportunities to insert your own bias. How can you objectively compare applicants with so much data and not even know what data is the most valuable to look at when you have it in front of you? Managers must screen fairly and adhere to Fair Housing laws and FCRA laws too.

After doing this a few times, I knew there was a way I could automate all of this to save time and money and to actually be objective and fair in the tenant screening process. I am both a software engineer and data engineer so I know how to turn raw data into actionable insights and information. I hate doing repetitive tasks and I hate doing things that a computer program could do better and faster. I decided to fuse my love for real estate, rentals, and technology to solve this problem.

The Solution

As a landlord, I thought to myself, “How can I save as much time as possible during screening, while not sacrificing any quality, and actually improve the accuracy of screening?”

The answer was simple. I just needed to get all the data together - credit, eviction, criminal, income data, previous landlord interviews - And write an algorithm to pull out the components that matter most for screening an individual and assign a score to them.

It wasn't so simple, but that's what we did! We talked to hundreds of landlords and property managers and asked them what was the most important criteria when renting to someone and used that for the basis of how we would score a potential applicant.

Whoa - algorithms, data, and automation? Did I lose you? Don't worry, keep reading.

The Renter Score™

We built a workflow that takes all of the checks that a landlord or property manager SHOULD do, and then derive that into a Renter Score™ (between 0-1000) so that the manager can quickly make a decision of whether they are interested in renting to the individual or whether they don't meet the qualifications. The score is meant to be used for a very quick insight into the candidate. We provide their Renter Profile that has more data about them so managers can a more informed decision as well. The Partnyr Renter Score™ is broken up into five sub-scores with descriptions of why the renter has those particular scores. Since this is now automated, the manager simply needs to make a decision on moving forward with the applicant or not.

Tenant Screening - Backwards

If you haven't understood the solution yet, let me paint another picture for you. When you list your rentals as a manager, people reach out to you and they ask endless questions (even when they are already answered in the listings.) It is tedious and time-consuming. When I first started renting out my first home, I listed on Facebook and I got fifty messages in just a few days. I replied to all the questions and about only ten of them replied after that. Out of those ten, just a few were qualified. Usually, the manager does all the work talking and answering questions and if and only if they seem qualified, ask them to fill out an application and pay an application fee to cover the tenant screening costs.

This is backwards! If someone needs a home to live in, they are eventually going to find a place to live. They should get their application finished, get their tenant screening finished, and simply be able to share out that data to one or many landlords. If they aren't a good fit for one property, they can apply to another place without having to fill out the same data and pay more fees again to a different company.

Essentially, we've flipped the tenant screening process. We gather information first on an applicant, score and validate the data, and once scored THEN they can apply to different properties. This eliminates so much inefficient communication and back and forth. If they apply and you can't move forward with them because they don't meet your qualifications, the applicant still has their Renter Score™ and they still have a finished application. That score is good for 30 days, and they can continue applying to other properties on Partnyr from other property managers without paying another dollar.

The result is that property managers save about 90% of the time it takes to screen someone. The applicant's sensitive data is protected because they are only sharing sensitive information once, and that information is deleted following our security and data retention policies. Managers also only see the information they need to make a decision instead of sorting through all the data themselves. Plus, the raw data such as an applicant's credit report and credit score isn't overly exposed. Therefore, renters are more at ease getting screened and sharing their data.

Tenant Data Company

There are so many tenant screening companies out there, but they just pull a report from a repository and give you all the data. Do they help you make sense of that data or derive insights from it? No! That's where our vision is different. We built a tenant data company. We believe data is the most important factor of screening an individual and we go several steps further with automation and insights to help landlords and property managers make a decision.

Onward and Upward

We believe this is the future of good tenant screening and we're here to prove it. We trust credit scores. But now, it's time for “The Renter Score™” to become a standard of excellence to measure the quality of a potential applicant. Automation is the future! We believe landlords and property managers should spend time on things that can't be automated just yet - building good relationships with their tenants, maintaining their properties well, and finding more rentals!

At Partnyr, we hope to continue to push the envelope of automation and make screening tenants as unbiased and trustworthy as possible.