How to conduct reference checks is a vital process for all landlords. When screening a tenant, most of it involves uploading of their information to a tenant screening or property management software such as AppFolio. However, for rent reference checks, you will want to pick up the phone and do these yourself. Without doing so, you would need to take the word of the applicant, which can lead to many problems down the line.
By not properly screening tenant references, you open yourself up to the possibility of difficult tenants. With that said, you may end up allowing non-payers, late payers, and lease breakers to live in your property. Allowing this may ultimately end in eviction, vacancy, and a headache for you as the landlord.
Read on to learn how to conduct reference checks, the proper questions to ask previous landlords, and when to deny a tenant.
Conducting Rent Reference Checks in Bucks County
There are a few steps that you need to take when completing a rental reference check. Learn these steps below.
- Research: Again, you can’t always take the word of your prospective tenant. Sometimes applicants will give fake numbers and names of landlords. In this case, they generally have a friend or family member answers the call and vouch for them. With that said, always do your research to find out the name of their previous landlord/property management company.
- Call: Emailing is not sufficient enough. To get detailed answers and hear the tone of the landlord’s voice, it is better to call to perform the rental reference check. Plus, a tenant could easily make a fake email account to give themselves a reference.
- Ask the Right Questions: It is important to ask plenty of questions and get as much detail in the responses as possible. This is tedious and takes time, but it’s worth it to ensure you are getting a good tenant.
Questions to Ask a Previous Landlord(s)
As previously mentioned, it is imperative to ask previous landlords all the right questions. These questions include:
- Did they break their lease? Lease breaks may consist of criminal behavior, early move-out, noise violations, breaking pet rules, etc.
- Are they a late payer? You need to know if this tenant pays rent on time or have, they had multiple late payments in the past.
- Is rent always paid in full? Even if they always pay on time, is it still the correct and complete payment, or did you have to chase after them to the total rent due? Paying on time doesn’t always mean paying properly.
- Did they damage your property? If so, to what extent?
- Eviction history will show up on the background check; however, sometimes landlords may evict or do cash for keys without a court order. With that said, it is essential to find out when this has been the case!
When Should You Deny a Tenant
The next step after the screening process is to accept or deny a tenant. What are the proper circumstances to deny an applicant?
- Their past rental history includes late or non-payment: Even if they were not evicted in the past, if they have a history with not paying rent, paying it late or not paying in full each month, they should be avoided.
- Damage property heavily: Did you discover they have a history of damaging properties? If the extent of the damage is way above wear and tear, due to animals or reported by multiple landlords, deny this tenant.
- They have a history of eviction: This is a no brainer. Eviction doesn’t generally just happen once or by mistake. The chances of a tenant needing to be evicted again are relatively high. This tenant should be avoided.
- They move around/end leases early: If you found out that they move around quite a bit or have a history of ending leases early, this may not be the best tenant for you. It is one thing if a tenant breaks a lease early for a job, but breaking multiple leases in a similar location is a red flag.
- You couldn’t locate or get ahold of previous landlords: Don’t give up if you don’t reach landlords and just let the tenant move in. Explain that they will need to have previous landlords reach out to you, or you have to deny their application.
Now that you understand how to conduct reference checks, do you need a property management company trained in screening, leasing, and evictions to assist with running your property? If so, contact Bay Property Management Group Bucks County and learn how we can help!