Tips for Verifying Tenant References

Tips for Verifying Tenant References



While most landlords do reference checks on their tenants, very few actually follow through with those references in the right way. However, one of the most important aspects of screening potential tenants is asking for and then following through on interviewing those same references. The references you get should be from past landlords, employers, and other people who can verify that the potential tenant is trustworthy and someone you can rent to without having to worry about them tearing up your property or skipping out on the rent. 


There are quite a few tips out there for verifying your tenant references. From using Turbo Tenant software to help with the task, as they are an authority in real estate and tech innovation to following the tips below. 


The rental application

From interviews to asking the right questions of your potential clients, nothing helps when it comes to scoping out a potential tenant and their references like a good quality rental application. You can easily make up an application yourself, but there are plenty of premade ones online as well. A few of the lines that should be included on any good quality application are listed below:


  • Former landlords
  • Rental dates
  • Amount of rent paid per month
  • Number of late payments
  • If any legal action has ever been taken for late rents
  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Work references
  • Character references


A good quality rental application can do much of your work for you, if you have the right questions and lines listed. 


Authorization for reference, background, and credit check

You need to obtain written, not verbal, authorization from the potential tenant to have a reference, background, and credit check performed before you even think of renting to them. You can do this easily by creating a space on the application for their signature to authorize all of the above. 


Verify all references by calling past landlords and employers

If you want to ensure that the tenants you rent to are on the up and up, it’s not enough just to gather references, you need to call them as well. Valuable information can be found when talking to references, so make sure to call the past two landlords and at least the current employer. Also, even though the tenant has given you the phone numbers for these references, it’s a good idea to do a Google search for the name and number yourself, just in case misleading information was given. 


Check public records

While all of the above is necessary if you want to know everything there is to know about the people you may be letting live on your property, it’s always a good idea to go a step further and check public records as well. 


Always check criminal background and credit history

There are quite a few tenant screening services out there to help a landlord who is trying to do a credit history and criminal background check on a potential tenant. Many of these services charge a fee, but in many cases that fee can be paid by the potential tenant. However, you need to check your state’s rules and regulations on such policies before doing so, as some states don’t allow it. 


Being a landlord isn’t always easy, and while your instinct may be to help everyone out, it’s important to look out for yourself and your property first. The tips above will help you screen your tenants and their references as well, before the tenant signs on the dotted line to move into your rental home. It’s better to be safe than sorry in these cases, don’t you think? 


Mark Blackwell

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