Part of any thorough screening process will be to verify rental history. This is just as important as verifying income, checking criminal backgrounds, and looking through a credit report. In fact, it may be more important than your other screening criteria. Past rental history can tell you a lot about what it’s like to rent to a particular tenant.
Here are some of the things you should be looking for when you screen for a tenant’s rental history.
Ask for Landlord References
The first step in verifying a tenant’s rental history is to ask for references. You’ll want at least two landlord references. The application should ask for information such as the landlord name, the address where the tenant lived, and the phone number and email address for the landlord or property manager who rented them the home.
Double-check that the application is signed and gives you permission to do all the reference and background checking that’s required.
Verify the Landlord Information
Tenants who have had a bad rental experience may not want you talking to landlords. They won’t want you to hear that rent was late or pets were out of control.
Those tenants may give you false information. You could find yourself talking to a friend or family member instead of the actual landlord.
Do a little research so you can be sure you’re talking to the actual landlord. If it’s a property manager’s contact information you have, visit their website and make sure the phone numbers and email addresses match the public information. If it’s a private landlord, check the property records so you can be sure you’re speaking with the actual property owner.
Confirm Dates of Occupancy and Rental Amount
You can call or email the landlord references that are provided. The first thing you’ll want to do is verify the information on the application is correct. Ask about the dates that the tenant moved in and moved out. Find out how much rent was paid. Ask if the tenant had pets.
Questions to Ask During a Landlord Reference Check
The most important part of verifying rental history is ensuring that the tenant was easy to work with. You want to ask the former landlords a series of questions that will help you determine what kind of experience you’re likely to have with that tenant. Ask:
- If rent was paid on time
- How quickly the tenant caught up if/when rent was late
- If there was any property damage left behind
- If the tenant received all or most of their security deposit
- If pets were well-behaved and clean
- If any lease violations were detected
- If the tenant gave proper notice before moving out
You’ll want to ask one final and very important question: Would you rent to this tenant again?
These are some of the easiest ways to verify rental history during your tenant screening process. Remember to follow all fair housing laws and get the tenant’s permission before you conduct your screening and reference checks.
We can help you find a great tenant in central Florida. If you want to turn the rental verification and screening process over to professionals, please contact us at Park Avenue Property Management. We work in Lake Buena Vista, Orlando, Kissimmee, Celebration, Maitland, Altamonte Springs, West Palm Beach, Tampa Bay, and throughout central Florida.