Property Management Blog

Doing Landlord Reference Checks

Property Management Blog

A landlord reference check is performed by a prospective landlord to verify  information provided by a tenant and to assess their rental history and overall suitability as a tenant. A landlord reference check can include information on the tenant's rental history, such as how long they lived at a previous residence, whether they paid rent on time, and whether they caused any damage to the property. 

It can also include information on the tenant's personal behavior and habits, such as whether they were noisy or caused disruptions to other tenants, and whether they were respectful of the property and the landlord's rules. This information can help the landlord determine whether the tenant is likely to be a responsible and reliable tenant in the future.

In most cases, a previous landlord will need the tenant's consent to disclose information about them to a new landlord or potential landlord. This is because most jurisdictions have laws that protect the privacy of personal information, and landlords are typically considered to be "covered entities" under these laws. Without the tenant's consent, a landlord would generally be prohibited from disclosing personal information about the tenant without a subpoena or court order.

A previous landlord's reference can be a valuable source of information when you're considering approving a tenant, but it's important to consider the information in the context of all the other factors you're considering. Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating a previous landlord's reference:

  1. Consider the length of the tenant's tenancy: If the tenant lived in the previous landlord's property for a long time, that's generally a good sign that they were a reliable tenant.
  2. Pay attention to specific information: Make sure to pay attention to specific information the previous landlord is providing, such as whether the tenant paid rent on time, caused damage to the property, or had any issues with neighbors or other tenants.
  3. Check for consistency: Compare the information you receive from the previous landlord with other information you have about the tenant, such as the information in their rental application or from a credit check, to see if there's consistency.
  4. Consider the previous landlord's perspective: Bear in mind that the previous landlord's perspective is just one view of the tenant, and it might not cover all the aspects.
  5. Consider the professional context: If the previous landlord is a property management company, it’s more likely that they have a professional standard, processes and are more likely to provide more detailed information.

When you're considering approving a tenant for a rental property, it's important to ask the right questions to help you make an informed decision. Here are some questions you may want to ask a landlord about the tenant:

  • How long have you been renting to this tenant?
  • Has the tenant always paid rent on time?
  • Have there been any issues with the tenant's behavior or lifestyle that have caused problems for you or other tenants?
  • Has the tenant caused any damage to the property or left it in poor condition at the end of their tenancy?
  • Has the tenant had any pets while renting the property?
  • Has the tenant requested any accommodation or modifications to the property during their tenancy?
  • Was the tenant respectful of the house rule and regulations you have?
  • Are they planning to renew the lease or leave soon?
  • Have you ever had to take legal action against the tenant?
  • Can you provide any contact information for previous landlords or references for this tenant?

Keep in mind that some of the information you receive may be confidential. The landlord may not be comfortable providing some answers and should not reveal any protected information about the tenant. 

In general, a previous landlord's reference can be an important piece of the puzzle, but it's important to consider it alongside other information and not to rely on it solely to make your decision. It's also good practice to have multiple reference checks and verify all the details provided if possible.

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