How thorough is your screening process?
Most landlords will do a great job of checking credit reports and verifying income. But, the screening process shouldn’t stop there. It’s important to verify a tenant’s rental history. Looking at how a tenant has performed in the past will tell you how they’re likely to perform in the future.
Always verify rental history.
If you’re not sure how to do that, we have some tips for you today.
Collect Rental History Information on the Application
The application you provide must include information on a tenant’s current and former landlords. You’ll want to collect the name of the landlord and/or property manager or apartment community. Get their address, their email address, and their phone number. Make sure you also gather information on how long the tenant lived there and how much rent they paid.
The tenants need to know you’ll be checking these references, and they need to give you permission to do so. Make sure there’s a signature on the application that grants you permission to check backgrounds, credit, and references.
Look for Prior Evictions
Start your check of an applicant’s rental history by looking for prior evictions. As you’re putting together a set of standard rental qualifying criteria, you’ll have to decide whether or not you’re okay with renting your property to someone with a history of evictions.
For some rental property owners, there’s an absolute denial if any evictions are found in the applicant’s background. Sometimes, a bit of nuance is required. For example, an applicant who was evicted 20 years ago but has spent the last decade establishing a positive rental history would probably be okay. Someone who has been evicted twice in the last five years, however, would be more of a risk.
You can find eviction records in credit reports, but not always. Do a nationwide eviction check before you approve your new tenants.
Contacting Former Landlords
You can talk to former landlords on the phone or send an email when you’re verifying a tenant’s rental history. Some of the questions you’ll want to ask include:
- How long was the applicant a resident of theirs? Make sure the dates match up to what’s on the application.
- How much rent was paid?
- Was rent paid on time?
- Was there any property damage left behind?
- Did they receive their security deposit back?
- Was proper notice given before the tenant moved out?
- Did the tenant have pets, and were they well-behaved?
- Would you rent to this tenant again?
Always verify that you’re talking to the actual property owner or property manager. If an applicant had a bad experience at a former home, they might not be willing to give you contact information that’s accurate. Don’t be fooled into speaking with a friend or family member.
This is the best way to verify a rental history. Make sure you’re following all fair housing laws during your screening process, and if you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to a local property management company. We’d be happy to serve as a resource for you. Please contact us at Real Estate Gladiators. We serve owners and investors in Monroe, Issaquah, Bellevue, Everett, Lake Stevens, Kirkland and other cities in and around King and Snohomish counties in Washington State.