Landlords and property managers can provide a wealth of information about a rental applicant, including whether he can be relied on to pay rent on time, keep his home in good shape and get along with the neighbors. Incorporating references from an applicant's current and previous landlords strengthens your screening process and can help you avoid future tenant conflicts.
Get complete contact and rental information for each previous landlord or property management company from the applicant. This includes names, phone numbers and email addresses. You should also ask the applicant for the dates during which she was a tenant in each landlord's property. Landlords or property managers may need tenancy dates to look up the applicant's file.
Develop a list of questions for landlords and property managers and have this list handy when you call to verify the reference. Alternatively, you can develop a printed renter reference form that you can fax or mail to previous landlords and property managers. Include questions about the tenant's rent payment history and the condition of the rental unit during and after the tenancy. You should also ask whether neighbors or police filed any complaints against the tenant and how well the tenant got along with neighbors, the landlord and the landlord's or property management company's employees.
Contact the previous landlord or landlords by phone or email to request a reference. If you plan to use a printed reference form, email the form as an attachment or ask for a fax number.
Review the information provided by the landlord or property manager and follow-up, if necessary, to clarify information.
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- Small Property Owners of America: How To rent
- Federal Trade Commission: Using Consumer Reports: What Landlords Need to Know
- Nolo: How to Screen and Select Tenants FAQ
- California Apartment Association: Membership Benefits
- City of Lakewood, Ohio: Lakewood Discount Tenant Screening Service
- Zillow for Pros Blog: Questions to Ask a Renter’s Previous Landlords
- Tenant Verification Service: 5 Questions to Ask Your Applicant’s Previous Landlord
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