One of the key ways landlords can gain insights into the reliability of rental applicants is by contacting the previous landlord. The way a tenant acted in the past can be a strong indicator of how they will conduct themselves in the future.
Beware of Previous Landlord and Tenant Fraud
However, while calling the previous landlord is important, it may not always glean honest information. If a tenant is squatting at their current residence without paying rent while looking for a new place to live, some landlords will give a glowing review just to get the tenant out of their hair.
While these assessments should be considered, the screener should be aware that what past landlords say may not tell the whole story. It’s best to weigh the information along with testimonials from landlords from the more distant past as well. Character references and data provided by a reputable tenant screening service can augment this information to give a more complete picture of the rental history of the applicant.
Some prospective tenants may also enlist a friend or family member to pose as a previous landlord and give a glowing review of the applicant. Verifying past addresses and landlord phone numbers can be attempted via a search engine, but these results aren’t always reliable. A credit check or tenant screening report can give a more transparent view of where the tenant has lived and who their real landlords were so their history can be verified.
Covering All the Bases
Landlords must receive permission from the applicant to contact previous landlords, and most will ask that a copy of this release be emailed or faxed over before they will reveal any information about the individual. However, some key questions to ask them might include:
- When exactly did the tenant rent their property?
- What was the tenant track record in terms of on-time rent payments?
- In what condition was unit when they left?
- Did they receive their entire security deposit back (and if not, why)?
- Did any neighbors ever complain about them?
- Did they give adequate notice before vacating?
- Would the landlord rent to them again?
Gleaning insights about rental applicants from past landlords is a key step in connecting with quality tenants. A tenant screening service is another important way to verify the information provided by a previous landlord and avoid problem renters.