What to Look for When Referencing Tenants - Basic Property Management
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September 19th, 2022

When you’re looking for a new tenant, it’s important to do your homework. You want to find someone who will be a good fit for your property and who will pay their rent on time. Here are some things to look for when referencing tenants when your managing commercial property or residential rental real estate.

Checking employment history

When it comes to referencing prospective tenants, checking an applicant’s employment history is one of the most important things you can do. This is because employment history can give you a good indication of someone’s stability and ability to pay rent on time.

There are a few different ways you can go about checking an applicant’s employment history. One way is to simply ask for references from their current or previous employers. Another way is to run a background check, which will usually include information on someone’s employment history.

Whichever way you choose to check an applicant’s employment history, there are a few best practices you should follow. First, make sure you get in touch with all of the references that are provided. Second, take the time to speak to each reference and ask specific questions about the applicant’s job performance, reliability, and so on. Finally, trust your gut – if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Credit checks

There are a few different ways to run a credit check on a prospective tenant. You can use an online service, such as MySmartMove, which will give you access to the tenant’s credit report. Another option is to contact the credit reporting agency directly and request a copy of the tenant’s credit report.

When you review the credit report, you will want to look for any red flags that may indicate that the tenant is not financially responsible. For example, if you see late payments or collections accounts, this may be an indication that the tenant has difficulty making timely payments.

If you have any concerns about a prospective tenant’s creditworthiness, you may want to consider requiring a larger security deposit or requiring that the rent be paid in advance. By running a credit check and taking these precautions, you can help ensure that you are renting to a responsible tenant who will take care of your property.

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Referencing previous landlords

When you’re screening a prospective tenant, one of the most important things you can do is talk to their previous landlords. This will give you an idea of what kind of tenant they are- whether they pay their rent on time, take good care of the property, or if there have been any problems in the past.

There are some best practices to follow when speaking with an applicant’s previous landlord. First, make sure you get the contact information for at least two references. It’s also important to verify that the landlord you’re speaking with is actually the applicant’s previous landlord – not a friend or family member posing as one. Finally, be sure to take note of anything negative that is said about the applicant – even if it seems like a small issue, it could be a red flag that there are bigger problems.

When you’re speaking with an applicant’s previous landlord, there are some key questions you should ask. First, ask about their rental history – when did they move in, when did they move out, and why? It’s also important to ask about whether they paid their rent on time and if there were any late payments. You should also ask about the condition of the property when they moved out – whether there were any damages or repairs needed. Finally, ask if the landlord would rent to them again in the future – this can give you an idea of whether they would be a good tenant going forward.

Asking these questions of an applicant’s previous landlord can give you some valuable insights into what kind of tenant they are and whether they would be a good fit for your property. By following these best practices, you can make sure you’re making the best decision for your rental property.

Photo by Jenny Ueberberg on Unsplash

Looking at social media

There are a few benefits to referencing a prospective tenant’s social media as part of the screening process. First, it can give you an idea of their character. If they regularly post negative or derogatory comments, this could be indicative of a bad attitude.

Second, social media can also give you an idea of their lifestyle. If they regularly post photos of themselves partying or engaging in risky behavior, this could be indicative of a tenant who may cause problems down the road.

Finally, social media can also give you an idea of their financial stability. If they regularly post about expensive purchases or vacations, this could be indicative of a tenant who may have difficulty paying rent on time.

There are a few red flags that landlords should look for when referencing a prospective tenant’s social media. For example, any posts that indicate a lack of respect for property or rules and regulations, or posts that indicate a history of fighting or violence. Third, any posts that indicate a history of drug use or abuse, or indicate a history of financial instability.

Keep in mind that social media can be misleading at times. However, if you see any of these red flags, it is important to take them into consideration when making your decision about whether or not to rent to a prospective tenant.

Checking for criminal records

When it comes to referencing tenants, checking an applicant’s criminal records is an important part of the process. This is because a tenant’s criminal history can provide insight into their character and whether or not they are likely to pose a risk to other tenants or the property itself.

There are a few best practices that landlords should follow when conducting criminal background checks. First, landlords should only request information that is relevant to the tenancy, such as convictions for violent crimes or drug-related offenses. Second, landlords should give applicants the opportunity to explain any convictions on their record. Finally, landlords should make sure they are complying with all local and state laws governing tenant screening.

In some cases, local and state landlord-tenant laws may prohibit a landlord from conducting a criminal background check, or prohibit a landlord from renting to a tenant due to a minor criminal offense. Landlords should be familiar with these laws in order to avoid any legal penalties.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Conducting an interview

The benefits of conducting an interview with a prospective tenant are two-fold. First, it allows the landlord to get to know the applicant on a personal level and learn more about their rental history and current situation. This can be helpful in making a decision about whether or not to move forward with the lease agreement. Second, the interview provides an opportunity for the applicant to ask questions about the property and the landlord’s expectations, which can help them decide if the rental is right for them.

Here are some questions a landlord may wish to consider asking a prospective tenant when conducting an interview in-person or over the phone:

1. What is your current living situation?

2. Why are you looking for a new place to live?

3. What is your rental history like? Have you ever been late on rent or had any other issues with your previous landlords?

4. Do you have any pets? If so, are they well-behaved and up to date on vaccinations?

5. How many people would be living in the rental unit with you?

6. What is your employment situation like? Do you have a steady income that can cover the rent payments?

By asking these questions, a landlord can get a better sense of who the applicant is and whether or not they would be a good fit for the rental property. It’s important to remember that an interview is not a guarantee of approval – there are other factors that will need to be considered before making a final decision. However, it is a useful tool in the screening process and can help landlords make informed decisions about their rental properties.

Reviewing the lease agreement

It’s important for landlords to review the lease agreement with tenants prior to the tenants moving in, for a few reasons. First, it gives the landlord an opportunity to go over the terms of the lease and make sure that the tenant understands everything. This is important because it sets the tone for the rest of the tenancy – if the tenant doesn’t understand the terms of the lease, they’re more likely to violate them.

Second, it allows the landlord to point out any potential red flags or areas where there might be misunderstanding. For example, if there’s a clause about late fees, the landlord can explain how that works and what the consequences are for not paying on time.

Finally, it gives the landlord an opportunity to answer any questions that the tenant might have. This is important because it shows that the landlord is willing to be open and transparent with the tenant, and that they’re interested in making sure that the tenant has a positive experience.

Tips for reviewing the lease with your tenant

There are a few best practices for landlords to follow when reviewing the lease agreement with a tenant:

  • Make sure that you’re clear and concise when explaining the terms of the lease. Use simple language that the tenant will be able to understand, and avoid using legal jargon.

  • Be patient – answer any questions that the tenant has, and make sure that they understand everything before moving on.

  • Be flexible – if there’s something in the lease agreement that you’re not comfortable with, or that you think could be misunderstood, be willing to make a change.

Finally, remember that the goal is to have a good relationship with the tenant – so be friendly and professional throughout the process.

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

Taking a deposit

When it comes to security deposits, landlords must take care to protect their investment while also adhering to state laws. A security deposit is designed to cover any damages that a tenant may cause to the rental property during their tenancy. In most states, the amount of the security deposit is capped at one or two months’ rent.

As a landlord, you should always require a security deposit from your tenants. This will give you some financial protection in case of damage to your property. To calculate the amount of the security deposit, a good rule of thumb is to charge one or two month’s rent. For example, if your monthly rent is $1,000, you could charge a $1,000 security deposit.

When it comes to the security deposit, there are some best practices that landlords should follow. First, you should always keep the security deposit in a separate bank account from your other funds. This will help to ensure that the funds are available if you need to make repairs to the property.

Second, you should give your tenants a receipt for their security deposit. This receipt should include the amount of the deposit, as well as your contact information. This will help to prevent any misunderstandings about the security deposit later on.

Finally, you should inspect the property before your tenants move in. This will allow you to document the condition of the property and identify any pre-existing damage. You should also conduct a final inspection when your tenants move out. This will help you to determine if any damage has occurred during the tenancy.

By following these best practices, you can protect your investment and ensure that your tenants are happy with their rental experience.

Closing thoughts

When referencing tenants, there are a few key things that landlords should look for. First, it’s important to check for any negative marks on the tenant’s credit report. This could indicate financial instability or a history of not paying rent on time.

Next, landlords should contact the tenant’s previous landlords to get a sense of their rental history. It’s also a good idea to run a background check on the tenant to make sure there is no criminal history. Finally, it’s always helpful to speak with the tenant directly to get a sense of their personality and whether they would be a good fit for the property.

By taking these steps, landlords can help ensure that they find the best possible tenants for their property.

Blog post written by J. Scott Digital freelance copywriting services, featured photo by Atikh Bana on Unsplash

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