Tips For Checking A Tenants Rental History

Tenant screening is one of the keys to success with owning rental properties in Portland Oregon but even though it’s important, many landlords fail at checking a tenant’s rental history.

Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever before for someone to fake their rental history and completely false use references.

The good news is that it’s easier than ever before for landlords to understand a tenant’s rental history if they know what to look for.


How To Determine A Tenants Rental History

Start the rental history report using pre-screening questions.

The rental verification process starts when you first speak to the prospective tenant by phone or email. Before you start, it’s a good idea to check with your current state laws and the Fair Housing Laws to be clear about the questions you can and cannot ask a prospective tenant.

In general, though, you should be ready to find out the following information:

How long they have been living at their current address

Why they are moving

Whether they are willing to submit a rental application and authorize a background check

Whether they are willing to provide references from previous landlords and employers

Whether they have been evicted from a previous apartment

It is helpful to ask some of the questions on the rental application during the call and then note the answers. This information is important because you can check the verbal answers against the information included on their rental application—as well as the information former landlords provide.

Use the rental application process to build a rental history report.

The rental application form should gather information about the prospective tenant’s current and previous addresses. This should include the dates in which the tenant lived at the addresses as well as the landlord’s contact information. It is also essential to ask for consent to contact previous landlords.

Most of the time, the tenants who have nothing to hide will be OK with you calling former landlords and rental property owners.

Related: How technology can help process rental applications faster.

Check the rent references.

If the tenant consents to a check of their rental history, you then have to take on the laborious task of making lots and lots of phone calls to verify the information. You may have the urge to skip this part, but don’t give in to the temptation. Doing so could mean the difference between renting to a great tenant or renting to a bad one.

The goal of calling previous landlords is to verify that the tenant’s information is accurate. It’s also an excellent time to ask how the tenant treated the property and if any lease violations occurred during the tenancy. If possible, it would be best to ask open-ended questions to better understand the tenant better.

For example, you can ask how the tenant maintained the property, what the communication was like, and why they would rent to the tenant again.

Before calling the landlord, it’s also a good idea to do an internet search to confirm the contact information you were given for the landlord. It’s not unheard of for a tenant to give a friend’s contact number as their landlord’s number. The friend will then pose as the prior landlord.

Thoroughly checking a tenant’s rent references takes time, of course. However, it’s worth spending the time vetting possible tenants to find a suitable tenant for your rental unit.

Verify information with the tenant.

Let’s suppose the rent references you check out differ from what the tenant has stated during the screening call or on their application. In that case, it’s worth the time to check with the tenant on the discrepancies. These could just be simple mistakes or purposeful inaccuracies on the part of the other party. For example, a prospective tenant can provide misleading information just as easily as a landlord can lie about a tenant.

Of course, it’s not easy to know who to believe in these situations. You will have to rely on your judgment, but asking a few questions usually clears up any misunderstandings. And, if you call at least three former landlords, you might be able to get a better idea of who is telling the truth.

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