You might have heard all kinds of horrid stories about tenants, including late or unsettled rents, wild and uncontrollable pets, raucous kids, property damages, and sometimes much worse accidents. If a landlord offers a property on rent, it is unwise to underestimate the applicant screening process.
You must always do an in-depth check on your prospective tenants’ references. You will often land across some surprising insights on your tenants that can help you make more thoughtful decisions rather than regret them later. The least you can do is ask for references of your tenants from their earlier landlords.
Usually, the people who are looking for rental properties have probably been renters elsewhere. This is an excellent thing as it indicates they already have a history with another or many other landlords before.
Their past tenant history on how they treated their home and their behavior with their previous landlord(s) will best determine how they will behave with you.
15 Questions you should do as a landlord
Here is a list of some of the most significant and worth-asking reference questions that you as a prospective landlord must ask each applicant for their rental application:
- What was the property’s address that the tenant rented from you?
- What were the dates when the tenant was residing at your rental property?
- Did the tenant pay rent consistently and on time?
- What is (or was) the rent amount they paid every month?
- What is the duration of the tenancy?
- Did the tenant ever pay you your rent late or miss out on any rental payments? If yes, when and how many times?
- Were any checks ever returned to the tenant due to insufficient funds? If yes, when and how many times?
- Did the tenant properly maintain the property? Were there any maintenance issues or significant damages to the rental property?
- Was the tenant a good communicator?
- Did the tenant own any pets? Were they unruly?
- Did the other tenants or neighbors receive any complaints from the tenant while they lived there?
- Does the tenant owe you any money for any specific reason or have any outstanding debts currently? If yes, for what and how much?
- Did the tenant ever have to serve a quit, pay, or eviction notice, or was he/she asked to vacate the property? If yes, what were the reason(s) and consequences?
- If no such reasons were quoted, why did the tenant choose to leave?
- Would you prefer renting your property to this tenant again? Why or why not?
Things you need to check with a landlord
The very first thing you should be aware of is who your tenants’ previous landlords were. Hence, you should ask the previous and current landlords’ names and personal and contact information on your rental applications.
Which landlord should you get in touch with?
Ideally, you should check with all the landlords. At the very minimum, you should especially consider landlords that the prospective tenant has rented a unit from in the last 5 years or so.
A few landlords do not go through the trouble of checking their applicant’s present landlord since they feel he/she might have an opportunity to misguide them and purposely pass of bad tenants as good ones, merely to get rid of them.
Still, there is no harm in getting in touch with current landlords since there is nothing much to lose; instead, you might come across some beneficial insights.
What questions should you decide to ask?
Determining what questions a landlord can ask a previous landlord is one of the biggest stumbling blocks and most significant part for most people.
Finally, after you have gathered the contact information and other details for the applicant’s current and previous landlords, it is time to decide what to ask them. Most preferably, you would want to ask questions that fulfill 2 purposes:
- Firstly, you should try to retrieve information regarding your applicant. This can help you make a thoughtful and informed decision on whether the tenant(s) will be suitable for you or not.
- Secondly, you should question the landlords in a manner that can help you find out if the person you speak with actually was (or is) the applicant’s landlord.
Unbelievably, a few applicants do not wish for their prospective landlords to discover that they disrupted their previous rental property or left unexpectedly with thousands of dollars outstanding in their rent that was due.
They purposely provide the wrong phone number and name (such as their friends or family members) and reveal them as landlords.