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One of the most important and yet time-consuming tasks a property manager faces is that of screening prospective tenants. Under the standard process, an applicant’s information is used to run credit and criminal background checks, verify rental history, and, if time permits, verify references. But for the property manager that oversees multiple properties, screening can easily become an overwhelming project — all while under pressure to fill units with qualified applicants as quickly as possible.

A relatively new solution found in artificial intelligence (AI) offers many property managers a way to ease this burden. The same technology that tracks an individual’s search preferences on Google and enables interactive programs like Alexa to respond to verbal questions can now also help property managers streamline the process of screening a potential rental applicant. By analyzing information gleaned from numerous databases, AI uses an algorithm that produces a “score” for a prospective tenant. Much like a credit score, the factors identified in each score such as rental history, debt-to-income ratio, and other financial data can help a property manager determine whether an applicant would be an ideal tenant.

Although this type of technology is still evolving, one of the most important benefits it offers is that it levels the playing field for many applicants who would potentially be unlawfully denied housing on the basis of age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, familial status, or disability. AI technology also enables the ability to track an existing tenant’s lifetime score as it continues to change, allowing a property manager to analyze the tenant’s ongoing viability. The advancement of AI technology can also help property owners substantially reduce the risk of loss through unpaid rent or costs incurred in eviction proceedings. According to a 2019 white paper produced by the company RealPage, that can amount to a cost savings of more than $400 million for property managers throughout the U.S. each year.

Like other developments in technology, the advent of artificial intelligence is changing the way many companies do business, including property managers. Developments in AI are not only proving to be a more efficient method of screening and identifying qualified tenants but can also help ensure that all applicants receive equitable treatment in the process.