Tips For Verifying References of Potential Tenants

By Ashley Paskill on September 12, 2020

When you are looking for potential tenants, you likely include a section for references on the application. This list could include employers, current and former landlords, and others that are really familiar with a potential tenant and who they are as renters and as people. Being able to verify the references and cross-examine what is said is a crucial aspect of this, and when done correctly, you will have a full picture of who a potential tenant is.

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Ask for a variety of references

When you are looking for a great tenant, you want to know who they are not just as a renter, but also as a person. In order to get a more comprehensive view of the tenant’s life, ask for specific people for them to list. You will want to talk to their former landlords to get a look at how they were as renters in terms of rent payments and their cleanliness. You may also want to reach out to family and friends of the potential tenant to get an idea of who they are as a person. The more references you have, the better view you get of a potential tenant and who they are.

Keep the reference process short and simple

Including a section for tenant references to fill out is a crucial part of the application, whether you do a paper version or an online form. You will likely have multiple applications coming in, so reading long paragraphs about each applicant is not effective. Instead, ask a few short-answer questions so that you can get a basic look at the applicant through the eyes of those they know. Be sure to ask for a phone number and/or email address so that you can reach out for more information if you are thinking the tenant is a good fit.

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Make sure they are who they say they are

While most college students will be honest when submitting references, some may try to only submit references who are family members and friends. As mentioned above, it is important that you actually take the time to call the people on an applicant’s reference list if you are planning on moving forward with the potential tenant. Calling the person will give you the chance to see if the phone number is real and to make sure what was said in the application holds true. If an applicant puts down a reference for a workplace, do some research to see if the contact information matches up to that employer.

Do not rely on references alone

As mentioned above, references are not completely fool-proof. Applicants may try to manipulate the process by putting down references who are friends and family who will only sing their praises. Current and former landlords deal with several tenants and they may forget specific details of the applicant, including possible negative aspects of their time together. References are crucial, but it is important to take the other aspects of the application into consideration as well so that you get a more comprehensive look at who an applicant is.

Call the applicant’s current and former landlords

If the applicant has rented apartments before, it is important that you get in touch with their current and former landlords. Talking to these people will help you get a sense of the applicant as a renter. Be sure to ask how they are with paying rent, maintaining their space, and their communication with them. It is crucial that you get as much information as you can from their current and former landlords so that you get a good look at how the applicants will be as tenants. This will be one of your most important references to look into. Getting in touch with at least one former landlord will also come in handy just in case their current landlord is eager to get rid of a bad tenant. This will help you be sure you get a full picture and will help you verify how the potential tenant is as a renter.

Ask the right questions

When you are talking to references, it may be tempting to keep things short and sweet by asking simple yes or no questions. This may be okay on the application, but if you are calling up the references, it is important that you ask open-ended questions to get more out of the reference than a one-word answer. If you are at the point where you are calling up a reference, you are likely serious about bringing in the applicant as a tenant. Therefore, it is important that you take the time to get the most information you can. Be sure to ask a variety of questions about the potential tenant. If you are talking to a current or former landlord, be sure to ask questions like how they were with paying rent, whether or not they stayed in communication, and their overall personality. However, if you are talking to an employer, ask about the potential tenant’s reliability and professionalism.

Finding new tenants can be a tough process, but knowing how to verify references properly can help save you a headache down the line.

By Ashley Paskill

Uloop Writer

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