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How To: Conduct a Landlord Reference Check

Landlord reference check

A potential tenant who looks fantastic on paper isn’t necessarily risk-free and reliable. The easiest way to stay away from troublesome leaseholders is to conduct a landlord reference check.

A tenant who is fast approaching their lease-end date and is frantic to locate to another place, might not have any problem lying about tenant history to secure a new home. Avoid the vulnerability by going directly to the source. Find out what you should be asking when having conversations with previous landlords.

How long was their previous lease?

Asking this question gives you an opportunity to see a general timeline of how long the former landlord interacted with the applicant and how recent the information that they are telling you is.

An ideal landlord reference check is one based on a recent time frame to get current and accurate information. Asking this question, in the beginning, is crucial as it gives you an indication of how new or old the tenant information is.

How much was rent at the last place?

Asking this question helps landlords compare whether the tenant would be able to pay the rent amount currently being requested for in the new location if there is a significant discrepancy the landlord should take extra caution to confirm that a tenant’s income can cover the rent.

Tenants rent payment history

This answer is a major giveaway to see if the applicant is fit for your property. Learning about a potential tenant’s rent-paying habits before they move in is a great way to ensure you have all basis covered. It’s simple. If they paid on time with no hiccups, move onto the next question. If there were issues, ask why, if it was a common occurrence, etc.

How well did the tenant care for the rental property?

Most, if not all previous landlords will be happy to give up information about any problems encountered by the past tenants. Treating a property with respect is right at the top of the list for qualities landlords look for when screening applications, so it’s important to ask how the property was cared for when being lived in by the tenants. Be sure to be thorough on this and ask for any pictures or specific examples to back up the case.

Would you rent to them again?

Any answer other than a strong “Yes” is the wrong answer. The previous landlord’s final response should give you a good idea of the behavior that you can expect.

There’s too much risk that comes with not conducting a landlord reference check. Not taking your time and paying attention to the details during the screening process could translate to you having to evict a tenant. Over time this process will become comfortable for you. Instincts will slowly develop, and you will be able to screen the good, bad and evil- with ease.


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