Checking References and What to Do Before the Move-In Date

Tenant Check September 13, 2019
Cora Younie

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Checking References and What to Do Before the Move-In Date

Every step of the rental process is significant to avoid future problems with your tenants. It is easy for an applicant to provide you with information that looks legitimate, especially if you aren’t utilizing the full benefits of an online tenant screening product. Previous addresses, current employer, and other verification information can be fabricated. This is likely not to be the case if the applicant has cleared the other aspects of your screening. We have outlined below some of the other ways you can verify someone before entrusting them with your rental.

Landlord References

Talking to previous landlords can be incredibly insightful. They can be a resource for both verifying the information provided, but also what kind of tenant the applicant was. It is possible for these details to be fabricated if the applicant had a rocky relationship with a previous landlord. Here are a few other ways to ensure that the landlord is who the applicant says they are:

  • Verify both ownership of property and contact information provided using Whitepages or Whitepages Premium
    • People Search to confirm that all names, addresses, and phone numbers line up
    • Reverse Phone Search to confirm that the number isn’t the applicant’s friends or family
  • Social media search—is the landlord reference one of their friends?
  • Are they proving vague or canned responses to screening questions?
  • Verify move-in/out dates

Here are some handy questions to ask once you’ve reached the previous landlord:

  • Did they pay their rent on time?
  • Was the property damaged outside “normal wear and tear”?
  • Were there noise complaints?
  • Would they rent to them again?

Employer Reference/Verify Employment

Employment verification is key to confirming that the tenant will be able to pay their rent. This can vary in difficulty depending on the contact details provided on the application. For larger companies, requesting to speak with an individual in Human Resources will get you the most accurate information. But for smaller companies, you will want to speak with the general manager or owner. The information that can be provided to you will vary depending on your city and state laws. An Employment Verification Request can also be done by phone or written request. It may be required to get written consent from the applicant to contact any employer.

Notify Applicants

After verifying employment and chatting with their previous landlord, it is likely that you will have sufficient information to make a decision on the applicant. Now you can call and deliver the good news (or bad depending on what you uncovered). If you are vetting multiple applicants it will be important to notify the applicants that were denied also. Some states have laws regarding who you must rent to—the first person with a completed application who passes the background check, for example. Know these laws before you start accepting applications. If you have received a holding deposit, it may be necessary to arrange the return of that deposit depending on your local laws.